How many times will NBC produce a TV show featuring an airplane which suddenly vanishes in an attempt to copy Lost ‘s success? If there is something to go by with the trailer for the forthcoming Peacock original series Departure, the response is “at least three times in less than a decade.”
Departure, a six-episode miniseries scheduled to be released on September 17th, tells the story of passenger plane Flight 716, which “shockingly” vanishes mid-flight, causing a team of investigators to attempt to unravel the conspiracy before another plane goes missing. If you’ve been watching network television for the last decade and a half, it may also sound a little familiar.
Lost premiered on ABC in 2004, telling the story of Oceanic Airline Flight 815, which during a routine flight vanishes into thin air and crashes on a mysterious tropical island, setting off a massively popular flashback-reliant, the conspiracy-laden TV show that would dominate the pop culture for years.
Lost concluded in May 2010, and the next season, with The Event, a similarly flashback-reliant, conspiracy-laden TV show that — apparently by complete chance — ends its first episode with Avias Airways Flight 514 vanishing into thin air, NBC was still trying to catch up the audience. Despite its similarities with Lost ‘s approach to “neither show nor tell” when it came to explaining its mysteries, The Event only lasted a single season before being canceled.
Yet NBC wasn’t finished delving into the surprisingly common sub-genre of “plane unexpectedly vanishes, setting off a massive conspiracy.” In 2018 the network premiered Manifest, which tells the story of Montego Air Flight 828, which (you guessed) vanishes mid-flight, only to reappear years later, touching off more questions and mysterious mysteries. Recently the manifesto was renewed back in June for a third season, meaning that NBC will be the proud owner of two completely unrelated aircraft disappearance conspiracy shows, simultaneously airing.
The break seems to be taking a break from the past vanishing plane shows of the network in support of NBC and taking a more grounded approach to the idea. The show appears to pin the missing flight on a more traditional terrorist attempt, and not a supernatural occurrence triggered by powerful aliens or unknown powers.
That said, if it turns out that the disappearance of Flight 828 was caused by an energy portal that took the passengers to a tropical island which also doubles as a convoluted purgatory metaphor, don’t say I didn’t warn you.