Wednesday, 13 October 2010

'THE EVENT' 1.4 – "A Matter Of Life And Death"

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

We're four episodes in, so now that I have to decide if The Event is worth the effort to review every week. It boils down to how much I find myself itching to write about each episode, and how much there is to write about (beyond just recapping proceedings), combined with how much response these reviews are generating from readers. For me, The Event hasn't been the disaster or disappointment many other reviewers claim, but it's definitely less immersive and impressive than I was hoping for.

"A Matter Of Life And Death" continued to back flip to arbitrary moments of the past, intended to give us emotional context to the contemporary storyline, but it's not working for me. I understand how much Leila (Sarah Roemer) and Sean (Jason Ritter) love each other; I don't need to be shown him getting the blessing of her parents five years ago. These flashbacks have to be giving us valuable information, and they're mostly failing to. In one we learned that Sean's estranged from his parents, but that's nothing he couldn't have mentioned in the present.

The show is beginning to remind me of Prison Break's later seasons, regarding Sean's storyline. Substitute Sean for Michael Scofield, Leila for Sarah Tancredi, and Vicky for Gretchen Morgan, and you have a storyline I could imagine that show doing. The way Leila's subplot was developed and the twist revealed (her captors were letting her escape all along!) were very reminiscent of something Prison Break would have done. And I used to enjoy Prison Break's post-season 2 "wilderness years", because there was always the feeling the actors and writers know how crazy their show had become, so were often playing events for laughs and leaning on the charisma of the cast to keep things afloat. The Event could go down that route, but at the minute it's a little po-faced because the storyline with the President (Blair Underwood) is being tackled much straighter.

Maybe if The Event hadn't been marketed as a compelling mystery series, reaction would be different? I can't help imagining that a conspiracy action show that astonished people by involving a teleporting passenger jet and "aliens" would have sparked greater interest. It could be 24-meets-The Invaders. But with everyone watching the premiere and already expecting mysterious weirdness, with the high watermark of Lost fresh in their minds, The Event just comes across as a yawning chasm inviting you to spend years extrapolating answers from a mystery the writers clearly won't reveal anytime soon. And having just finished Lost's six-year opus, I think the majority of its natural audience just want a rest.

The Event's delivering a few eyebrow-raising moments every episode, which is great -- although that's easier than you'd imagine in these early days, with no real pressure to explain whatever crazy twist you think up. The dead passengers being restored to life, only to start getting nosebleeds, is the kind of thing that invites theorizing and interest on a basic level. The suggestion the show's ultimately about the US government versus a faction of earthbound aliens who feel aggrieved half their kind were detained in Alaska for decades, is also a good premise to work with.

Overall, The Event hasn't sunk to a depressing level of boredom just yet, but I'm becoming restless because few of the characters are that interesting in themselves. It's making the FlashForward mistake of putting the emphasis on the plot instead of letting the characters dictate the developments and inspire the big emotional moments, although Jason Ritter's managing to make Sean's quest to find Leila more gripping than it should be. I'll keep watching, but reviews may fall away as they did with FlashFoward last year, because I get the feeling I may end up repeating my thoughts in a slightly different recapping context week after week.

Comments for The Event haven't been that healthy, considering this is all new ground for people to talk about. I'm taking that to mean everyone else feels the same as me: it's fun to watch, kills an hour quite nicely, has some good moments mixed with the dumb moments, but you don't feel compelled to think about it between episodes. It hasn't hit that after-show sweet spot, where viewers are keen to hear everyone else's thoughts on the latest episode's goings on. It's just ticking along, and I'm waiting for the boom.

  • Interesting crew information: the director, John Badham, is best known for helming the movies WarGames and Saturday Night Ever, while co-writer Lisa Zwerling worked on FlashForward last season (a show The Event is considered to have replaced in the "next Lost" TV stakes).
WRITERS: David Schulner & Lisa Zwerling
DIRECTOR: John Badham
GUEST CAST: Clifton Collins Jr., Lisa Vidal, Adam Roa, Julia Campbell, Tessa Germaine, Heather McComb, Gonzalo Menendez, Wes Ramsey & Sayeed Shahidi
TRANSMISSION: 11 October 2010 – NBC, 9/8c