Well, Drive, the show about the illegal underground cross-country road race starring Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly has premiered. And it's full of hidden gems, such as the fact that Mal's (he's called Alex on the show but he'll always be Mal to me) missing wife for whom he races and with whom he has periodic imaginary conversations is none other than Fred (Amy Acker) from Angel! I LOVE her, in all her quirky, far-too-skinny, big-eyed glory.
The show is also full of not so hidden "gems," the worth of which remain to be seen. There's the funky, adrenaline-pumping camera work, catapulting from one speeding car to the next. There's the mysterious functionary of the mysterious people behind the scenes, the ones running the show. There's the riddles in the clues the contestants get each episode. There's a movie within the show that is purported to "tell all" but really won't. There's the cast of many, many characters, some of whom we have yet to meet. (So far we've seen the housewife with the heart of gold and the shady past, the ex-con who claims he's innocent, the woman who was burned by the race in the past, the Iraq war vet and his wife who is making him AWOL without his knowledge, the divorced man dying of cancer and his clueless daughter, the old couple in full riding gear on a motorcycle, the Katrina heroines--two of whom were black and were disqualified already, leaving only the Latino con-man and his privileged half brother as flavor in this otherwise all-white bread cast, and Alex, our main man, who is racing to--perhaps, cause it's not clear if this is really the case--to save his missing wife. ) Oh, and the winner gets 32 million dollars.
Serial structure? Check. Mythology? Check. Deceptive reality? Check. Powers beyond the cast's control? Check. Large and largely white cast? Check. Does this sound familiar yet? Clearly, is Drive is patterned after the Lost model, though how closely and how successfully remains to be seen. So far, the viewing has been fast-paced, with enough information revealed to be intriguing without being frustrating, though, admittedly, most of that info has been about the characters rather than the plot. But I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, if right now for no other reason than I like their casting, even of bit characters, which so far includes veterans of Firefly (one of the bad guys there is a bad guy here), Angel (ah, Fred), and Wonderfalls (the older sister). And they gave us three episodes in two days, a 24 move I appreciate. With news that Lost plans to end this season and then not present new episodes until January 2008, over 6 months later, I'm glad Drive is not taking a page from this particular part of their playbook. All we need now is for Drive to step things up a bit: more mystery and more revelations all at once. That's the way to keep us coming back for more. Oh, and more Fred, please!