It’s not a bad idea to pay homage to one of the greatest TV dramas of all time by re-envisioning it as a half-hour comedy. That’s the thinking behind “Wrecked,” a new half-hour that tries to be the sitcom version of “Lost.” But that ABC drama had what the new TBS program lacks — engaging characters and more than a few laughs.
While “Lost” was more concerned with depicting the adventures, as well as the moral and personal setbacks, of the survivors of a plane crash on (and off) the remote island near which their plane went down, there were usually very funny one-liners and witty observations mixed into every script. And almost every one of those jokes was delivered by a character that fans came to care about.
That kind of audience engagement is unlikely to accompany “Wrecked,” which also follows a group of survivors whose plane goes down in the Pacific. No rescue appears to be in the offing for the band of travelers who set up camp near a beach and very quickly begin to squabble over food, resources and who gets to make the decisions. There are specific call-outs to “Lost,” in the form of a square-jawed hero who serves as a leader (a la Jack), men and women who pretend to be something they’re not (a la Sawyer), and a couple who begin to squabble the minute they get over the shock of the crash (not unlike Sun and Jin).
The problem isn’t that “Wrecked” is so obvious about the ways in which it attempts to pay tribute. Its downfall lies in the fact that very little of what transpires is funny. Goofing on “Lost’s” sillier aspects could have been part of “Wrecked’s” charm, but it needs its own reasons to exist, and none were discernible after watching four episodes.
A number of the characters are actively annoying, and the show’s tendency to have people shout at each other in lieu of supplying briskly paced storytelling or well-crafted jokes becomes wearying. A running gag in one episode about one man’s inability to move his bowels on the island drags on forever, without any comedic payoff.
There’s an earnest side to “Wrecked,” in that the characters often lie about themselves and their pasts in ways that say a lot about their aspirations and fears. Of course, the truth has a way of catching up with them as their quest to survive evolves into a long-term project. Yet the show ultimately squanders the appreciable talents of performers like Rhys Darby and Ginger Gonzaga in a sea of jokes about airplane pretzels and sex toys found in suitcases.
All things considered, if a group of TV lovers were stranded on a desert island and could choose only one show to bring with them, pack “Lost” and ditch this pretender.