Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pilot Review: The Event

The Event (Mondays at 9:00 on NBC)

My gut reaction to the pilot of The Event was that it was the best introductory episode I'd seen in many years. The only other pilot I could recall having such an intensely euphoric reaction to was Lost, which debuted six years ago. After watching it again, my excitement was slightly more contained. And after a second episode, I feel like I can talk about it rationally.

So this show is clearly trying to fill the void left by Lost. Unlike other shows that have attempted the same (FlashForward comes to mind), it's starting off successfully. Basically we have a group of concurrent storylines that are beginning to intersect by the end of the second episode. Sean, an everyman, is on a cruise with his girlfriend where they meet another couple. They are convinced to go snorkeling the next day, but Sean's girlfriend is sick and stays behind. When he returns, she's missing and the ship has no record of their ever being on board. Cut to present day where Sean pulls a gun on a flight. Then there's the president of the US, a former Cuban, who is about to release 97 prisoners from a top-security holding place in Alaska. He is celebrating his child's birthday in Miami, when Sean's plane starts heading right for them.

Needless to say, there are several other secondary characters who serve these two main plotlines of the pilot, including the girlfriend's family, the president's head of security, a Secret Service agent, and one of the prisoners. It's a pretty standard "overlapping stories" show, until the last 2 minutes of the pilot. I won't spoil it, but I was completely thrown. It was such an in-your-face way to announce the show's arrival, and it was a fantastic moment. But it left many questions, a few of which were already answered in the second episode. Coming off of Lost, where it took six seasons to answer most of the show's questions, having so many answers so quickly is wonderful and terrible. I can't help but feel like, if this is truly the direction in which the show is moving, that many viewers (including myself) will be upset with the series as a whole. But if the writers are just toying with the audience and getting the obvious theories out of the way now, only to flip everything on its head later, then I'm all for it.

I'll admit that the show isn't terribly original or even all that well done. The constant time shifts were more distracting in the first episode than they were helpful. Since I suspect this timeline will be a major point of focus down the road, I know it must be important. But it was confusing to jump around so much in the opening episode. A lot of the dialogue is also awkward, especially for the girlfriend, Leila. Her character is just a pawn, so the writers just glossed over her part in the script; it doesn't help that the actress playing her has one expression and no depth. Jason Ritter is also forgettable as Sean, even though he is the most interesting and relatable character. He's the Jack Shepherd of The Event, but Ritter is nowhere near the same caliber of actor as Matthew Fox. Blair Underwood, Zelko Ivanek, and Laura Innes are all giving fine performances that are currently a bit shallow, but I can see them developing further; I don't see that same potential in Ritter, unfortunately. However, the performances are not what are going to carry this show. It's the story. And right now they're telling a potentially great story. Only time will tell if they veer off into the wrong direction.

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