The Leftovers

(HBO, Sunday, June 29, 10 p.m. ET/PT)
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Given the subject matter — the stories of what happens to the people left behind after 2% of the world’s population, including babies, parents, siblings and spouses, vanishes — The Leftovers is a show that probably either grabs you with the pilot or you’ll think it’s too depressing to continue. The pilot is definitely a grabber.

The mystery of what happened when all those millions disappear in an instant is followed by mystery after mystery, piling up like a car wreck. After the event, the story picks up three years (minus one day) later. No one has really figured out what happened. And is something, as hinted, about to happen on the third anniversary?

The dialogue — as you’d expect from executive producer Tom Perrotta (Election), whose novel is adapted here — is sharp and probes away at the language and rituals of grief and remembrance. “Sorry for your loss,” police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) says to one constituent in standard cop-speak. “Is that what it is?” she replies. There are also thoughtful parallels with our responses after Sept. 11. It’s all thoughtful, actually. But watch out for the occasional, jarring, loud flashback.

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