Saturday, 18 December 2010

'THE EVENT' 1.10 – "Everything Will Change"

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I think this is where my reviews of The Event come to an end. "Everything Will Change" was another episode where things happened, but it's hard to care. Leila (Sarah Roemer) and Sean (Jason Ritter) found the whereabouts of her sister Samantha, hidden beneath a hospital (accessible with everyday keycards the staff hand out to visitors?); Thomas (Clifton Collins Jr) once again split from his mother Sophia's (Laura Innes) plans, having created a satellite to communicate with their homeworld and launching it aboard a missile the US mistook as a nuclear warhead; and the episode's stab at a climactic shock was tepidly revealing that Leila's father Michael is an alien -- as he hasn't aged in photos dating back to the '40s. I suppose there's added intrigue now about Leila, who's assumedly an alien-human hybrid, particularly as Sophia seemed to be against her kind procreating with humans. It's evidently achievable, but is Leila unable to reproduce herself, or something? What exactly is the danger? Longterm overpopulation, if Leila and her offspring have similar lifespans to the aliens?

The problem I have with The Event is that it's one of those shows that has a decent enough premise, but doesn't know how to make the audience care about any of it. You can accept the idea that Sean cared about rescuing his fiancé, and then helping Leila find her sister, but do we truly care? On paper we should (a missing sister isn't something to be happy about), but the writers haven't constructed compelling actors and relationships for us to invest in the situation. Also, the fact Sean is ostensibly the lead actor, but has spent the majority of this season stuck in the least interesting storyline, is a disastrous issue that needs to be fixed.

It would be much simpler if Sean was a Jack Bauer-meets-Fox Mulder typ, fighting to expose an alien conspiracy involving the US government. Trouble is, we spend half our time with the President (Blair Underwood), so the government will never be perceived as all-out villains because we're sympathetic towards them. Likewise, Sophia still doesn't seem that unreasonable, so the show's alien leader isn't a menace, and her son Thomas isn't really a dangerous warmonger either. In fact, you get the impression the whole show would resolve amicably if the President, Sophia and Thomas simply had a meeting and came to an arrangement: the aliens give mankind great technology (like a drug to make the elderly live longer, which is why Dempsey has been experimenting on children), and in return the humans will help them get back to their homeworld. Or agree to let some of the aliens remain on Earth as citizens, with caveats. Why is that so impossible?

The overuse of flashbacks has also been a terrible crutch, designed to make the plot feel knottier than it really is. But considering the show's similarities to 24 (which was vehemently linear in structure), why not keep the flashbacks as irregular treats to contextualize things, but keep the show rolling like an unstoppable boulder? I don't see how a sci-fi version of 24 is so hard to achieve, really.

Maybe I'll check-in with occasional reviews next year (if there's a notable upswing in quality that honours this episode's title), but considering all the new mid-season shows starting in the new year, I suspect The Event will be replaced in my blogging rotation with something new... and, hopefully, better.

WRITERS: David Schulner & Nick Wauters
DIRECTOR: Norberto Barba
TRANSMISSION: 17 December 2010, Channel 4/HD, 10PM