Monday, 22 November 2010

'THE EVENT' 1.8 - "For The Good Of Our Country"

Monday, 22 November 2010

I think that's me done reviewing this series at US pace. It's frankly not good enough to require a fortnight's jump on the UK broadcast "For The Good Of The Country" used the flashbacks in a more competent way (as the show has done post-episode 6), shedding light on a particular character's past, but I still don't see why The Event needs to be using flashbacks so extensively. It should stick to the forward momentum of the current story, which is where it's occasionally built in-the-moment thrills. As it stands, it's kind of like watching an episode of 24 and getting a sudden flashback to explain Jack Bauer's decision to torture someone. It's just not necessary and drags the pace.

The Event seems to be using flashbacks so heavily because, well, it worked for Lost. What they're ignoring (or trying to work around because the A-story isn't strong enough to handle full attention), is that Lost's characters were enigmas the audience wanted to know more about, whereas The Event's mystery is primarily plot-based. Nobody really cares about seeing exactly how Vice President Jarvis (Bill Smitrovich) was recruited by villain Dempsey (Hal Holbrook) to organize the kamikaze attack on the President's retreat, especially if the episode's reveals don't amount to anything by the end. Jarvis winds up taking important information to his grave, and what we learned has no lasting significance.

It also didn't help that this week's story for Sean (Jason Ritter) and Leila (Sarah Roemer) was ripped straight from a Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode, with Sean suffering a gunshot wound and Leila kidnapping a doctor from a hospital to help with his injury. Cue the predictable trip to a pharmacy for supplies where (surprise, surprise) two cops strolled in. It was all very humdrum, although the level of research into how to treat a gunshot wound using items from a chemist was fascinating. Not that I'm an expert, but it felt realistic and persuasive. It's just a pity Roemer was required to shoulder the weight of this story, as it singularly proved her abilities aren't up to the challenge. Suddenly out of her comfort zone (smiling girlfriend, frightened victim), Roemer floundered and sank her scenes.

There were no direct ties to the aliens (sorry, EBEs) this week, which hurt the show. In concentrating on the White House staff and Sean/Leila it lost its uniqueness, becoming a lax 24 knockoff. And it's frustrating that we still don't have a clear handle on why Dempsey needed to prevent the President (Blair Underwood) releasing the detained aliens and took such drastic measures. It's like being 8 episodes into a season of 24, where you're not sure what the terrorists even want yet, and that makes the whole thing tough to get behind.

Overall, I'll keep watching because I'm a sucker for sci-fi shows that squander their potential in fascinatingly inept ways (FlashForward, Heroes), and I guess it's encouraging that NBC are "re-launching" the show in February after winter hiatus. The problem is, if the writers demystify the things that make it hard to engage with the story/characters, it thus loses the mystery it's predicated in.

WRITERS: David H. Goodman & James Wong
DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Reiner
TRANSMISSION: 15 November 2010, NBC, 9/8c