‘La Brea’ Looks at What Happens After Giant Sinkhole Opens in Los Angeles

Zyra Gorecki (l.) and Natalie Zea in NBC's 'La Brea.'
Zyra Gorecki (l.) and Natalie Zea in NBC's 'La Brea.' (Image credit: Sarah Enticknap/NBC)

La Brea, a drama about a massive sinkhole opening in Los Angeles, sending a number of residents into an unexplainable new world, premieres on NBC Sept. 28. The sinkhole splits the Harris family in two. Eve and her son plummet to this strange primeval world, while Gavin and his daughter remain in Los Angeles, with Gavin‘s visions shedding a bit of light on what may have happened to the other half of his family. 

The cast includes Natalie Zea, Eoin Macken, Jack Martin, Zyra Gorecki, Jon Seda, Chiké Okonkwo and Karina Logue. 

Okonkwo spoke about the show’s premise during a TCA Summer Press Tour session, noting how the melting pot nature of Los Angeles, where the sinkhole emerged, gave the primeval world below the sinkhole a quirky vibe. “There‘s all sorts of people who are driving from Wilshire Boulevard that morning. So, for the people who end up in the hole, it's just a real cross-section. There's obviously Americans. There's a Brit. There's Australians. There's a whole cross-section of society,” he said. “And throwing those people together in this primeval world and seeing how they survive, how they relate to one another. Do they devolve or do they rise to the challenge and really support and help each other? That was the real core of the human journey on this show that I was really excited about.”

David Appelbaum created the show, and executive produces with Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt and Ken Woodruff. 

Appelbaum said he could not shake the idea of a sinkhole opening in the heart of Los Angeles, and the creative opportunities that premise offered. “I had never seen a show open that way with something so dramatic, and I knew I wanted that to start the story but didn't know anything else,” he said. “I started asking so many questions about, why does the sinkhole open? Where does it go? Who are the people that fall in? And then, once you’re starting with those questions, you start to create a world of characters in situations. And then from there, a thousand other things happen. But it really just started with an image.”

Shooting in Melbourne, Australia, La Brea has something of a Lost vibe. “While La Brea isn’t all bad, it’s just the latest reminder that the Lost formula is harder to master than it looks,” goes a Hollywood Reporter review. 

Most people haven’t encountered a giant sinkhole during their morning commute, but Appelbaum said there’s enough going on in La Brea that people can relate to. “One of the really important parts of the show is that, even though it's in the sci-fi genre and there's an escapist element, we are relating the themes of the show to what's happening in the real world,” he said. “A lot of the show is about this group of survivors who are down in this strange land, about how they come together, or don't, in order to survive.

“I think the problems that they have in the real world come with them,” he added. “Even though we are operating in a made-up world, we do want it to feel real and relatable to what people are going through on a daily basis.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.