Monday, September 20, 2010

The Event - "Pilot"

Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) has misplaced his girlfriend.
Photo Credit: NBC
Review by Paul Steven Brown

'The Event'
Season 1 - Episode 1

'The Event' is NBC's attempt to establish the next big serialized mythology television show. The network is hoping that 'The Event' will fill the void left behind by 'Lost', similarly in the fashion that ABC had hope to do with 'FlashForward' last year, but ultimately failed. At the moment, Bad Robot cousin of 'Lost', 'Fringe' has been able to make it past two seasons and is about to start of third. Luckily, the creators of 'Fringe' realized that you have to try an entirely different sort of myth show, and went with a far smaller cast than 'Lost' and a more focused concept. The people behind 'FlashForward' cast too wide of a net, and by the looks of the first episode of 'The Event' NBC may be poised to do the same thing.

Inevitably, if you decide to begin your high concept series aboard a commercial airplane, you are going to automatically be compared to 'Lost'. The thing is, 'Lost' really started out with a bang. Jack wakes up on a desert island, stumbles into the chaos on the beach, pan over to Maggie screaming, bodies of dead and injured all around, cue the guy that gets sucked into the still whirling jet engine. Later in that episode we'd get noisy monsters unseen, but lurking in the jungles and a polar bear. Throw in a few characters like a former Iraqi soldier, a guy with a bad attitude and a gun, a fellow with a suitcase of knives, and a funny fat guy, and we've the makings of a show that I want to see more of.

'The Event' kind of flops around for the first thirty minutes. It doesn't help things that we go from flashback into flashback into flashback. A few characters are loosely sketched out, mainly Sean Walker and his girlfriend Leila Buchanan, an attractive young couple on a cruise that goes wrong. They love each other and he plans to propose... but that's about it. We're introduced to President Martinez, played by Blair Underwood (an actor that I do like, especially after the first season of 'In Treatment'), but all we know of him is that his family is orginally from Cuba and that he's a good man trying to do good honest things for his country. He wants to come clean to the American people about... something, but the writers are wanting to keep the mystery sustained a little longer.

There's also Sophia a woman that is the leader of 97 people detained in Alaska by the U.S. government. "Why?" Well, that would be letting us in on the secret. Apparently, they've been there for quite sometime and the newly elected President Martinez wants to do the right thing by setting them free. His advisors don't think this is a good idea because... well... we don't know yet. Sophia seems like a nice enough person. Besides, she's played by one of the doctors from 'ER', she can't be all bad.

Things finally start to get slightly interesting when Sean returns to the cabin on the cruise ship after going snorkling. Leila was feeling hung over, so she stayed behind. When he gets back his card key doesn't work and his room is assigned to another couple. Also, his stuff is missing and his name isn't on the manifest. Oh, and Leila is missing, too. Somehow, this is tied into her dad, Michael, (played by Luke from 'Gilmore Girls') having to fly that aforementioned commercial airplane way off course.

Let's just say something crazy happens with the plane.

Speculation time. The easy answer is that Sophia and her people are some kind of Area 51 alien race hidden away from the public so as not to start a panic. Unfortunately, that's too easy and ABC already has its aliens-disguised-as-humans show, 'V', so another one on the air would be awfully redundant. Also, it's too obvious of an answer for a show that can hardly manage to drop any clues during the first hour.

Other than the government and Sophia's people, there seems to be a third party involved. This would be the folks that threatened Papa Buchanan into taking the plane off course. My wild guess? It's all about angels and demons stuck on earth until the rapture.

Or vampires.

Or robots.

Or aliens.

If NBC wants 'The Event' to really catch on or to be taken seriously (well as seriously as a high concept, mythology show can be taken), then answers better start showing up next week. After the mixed emotions generated by the finales of 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Lost', the american viewing public isn't going to easily invest in another show that strings them around only to potentially leave them hanging with unresolved questions in the end.

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