No suspense in "The Lottery," futuristic look at planet-wide infertility
Oh, how we used to laugh at the European model of TV. A season made up of six to 10 episodes? Ha! That's an hors d'oeuvre. American shows were averaging more than 24 installments a year.
Well, we're not laughing anymore. If you look at recent events, from Game of Thrones to 24: Live Another Day, we're lucky if we get a dozen installments in a season. The European approach is winning!
It's understandable. The idea is that a less hectic production schedule will result in programming of superior quality. The portions may be smaller, but the taste is improved.
That doesn't work out so well with Lifetime's 10-episode batch of The Lottery, which premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday.
The limited series has an intriguing concept: a few years down the road, birthrates suddenly plummet without explanation. In 2019, only six children are born. On the whole planet. Then there are no more pregnancies.
Timothy J. Sexton, who wrote and executive-produced The Lottery, used the same idea of futuristic infertility in his screenplay for 2006's Children of Men, an excellent sci-fi film starring Clive Owen.
The premise is actually more promising than the one in HBO's The Leftovers, in which a portion of Earth's population just vanishes. But The Lottery is not as well-cast or -produced as that other 10-episode series.
With the exception of the underrated Martin Donovan as the sinister director of the Fertility Commission, none of the other actors are really convincing in their roles. That includes Marley Shelton as a scientist who makes a game-changing lab breakthrough, Yul Vasquez as the President, and Athena Karkanis as his chief of staff.
The suspense doesn't grab, either. Shelton and Michael Graziadei as the father of one of the last six children must go on the run from ruthless government operatives.
You can still enjoy The Lottery for the ingeniousness of its new world order. Just don't expect to be transported.
Premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday on Lifetime.