The upcoming ten-hour series Dispatches From Elsewhere is difficult to explain, but AMC gives it a shot: It’s “centered around four ordinary people who feel there’s something missing in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on what it is.” Then these people “stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life. As they begin to accept the mysterious ‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’ challenges, they come to find that the mystery winds deeper than they imagined, and their eyes are opened to a world of possibility and magic.” We know, we’re still confused also.
You might hope that the series’ recently released first few minutes, introducing Richard E. Grant as your narrator Octavio, might help clear some things up. But then Octavio doesn’t speak for the first twentysome seconds, barely indicating movement with the occasional blink. He eventually explains that he’s here to condense the usual laborious beginning to a new TV series, briefly introducing the character of show creator and star Jason Segel: “This is Peter. Think of him as you” (with Segel in a sad-sack role similar to his character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, also named Peter). Shaky hand-held camera traces Peter’s repetitive journey to and from a job that sounds a lot like Spotify, eating bodega sushi, only occasionally spicing things up with a burrito.
Grant describes Peter’s life as “tragedy in its most quietly devastating costume… this is existing, not living.” But he promises that we will now “jump right in to the day that something changes.” As will the series when it premieres on AMC on Sunday, March 1, after The Walking Dead, with a second episode airing the following night on March 2. We may be just as confused by then, but with Segel, Grant, Sally Field, André Benjamin, and Eve Lindley also in the mix, we are also intrigued.