Review: 'The Event'
Maybe I’m being unfair, but it really felt like “The Event” was just blatantly trying to be “Lost 2.0.” I know some shows take a few episodes to get going, but that wasn’t it. The very device of the show is contrived to build mystery artificially, meaning if they just told the story in order, it would be a silly sci-fi show, but they expect it to be more mysterious in flashbacks.
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Each sort of ac break focuses on one of the ensemble characters, and jumps back in time to explain what led them to the point where we meet them. Now, that’s not exactly the same as each episode focusing on a character and flashing back to a backstory that’s relevant to their present story, but come on. It’s flashbacks and it’s asking you to believe that the further back you go, the more significant the character will be, when they didn’t really sell it in the present.
The elements of “The Event” are: everyman Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) seeming to hijack a plane after a vacation with Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer); President Martinez (Blair Underwood) with his policy of releasing foreign detainees against his advisers’ wishes; criminal mastermind conspirator type Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes) and her government contact Blake Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek); Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) is the panicked agent with ties to Sophia, trying to stop Sean while screaming into a cell phone like Jack Bauer; and Leila’s father Michael (Scott Patterson), who if I tell you more about might be too much of a spoiler. Those may not be official character profiles, but that’s all that I got out of watching the pilot.
So by starting with Sean frantically holding a plane hostage then going back to see him on vacation with Leila and then back further to see him asking Michael for his blessing, then seeing the family conflict from Leila’s perspective… that’s supposed to make us understand how Sean got involved in a desperate situation. It’s no better out of order. Either way it’s a cliché and just a boring way to start a new series. You find out who’s connected to whom but that doesn’t make what they do any cooler. The scenes between Sean and Leila do well establishing the young relationship, but everyone else is so cliché.
Skipping around the story so fast is not suspense. It’s fake. Create suspense where you can tell us exactly what’s going on and it still works. I suppose it’s creepy when Sean’s on his cruise ship and everyone suddenly acts like they don’t know who he is and he hasn’t been going to the buffet all week. That’s standard techno-conspiracy though. Remember in The Net when they erased Sandra Bullock’s identity? Now it’s happening to Sean Walker.
Something does happen at the end that’s supposed to compel you to keep watching week after week, but it doesn’t seem to carry any stakes. What happens in the end is weird, but it doesn’t impact the rest of the world like flashforward or alien invasion. I’m not saying I want a bigger special effect, but the consequences have to be bigger than just “something crazy happened. Isn’t that craaaazzzzyyyyy???” By the way, I don’t think that’s “the event” either, it’s just some buildup to the even bigger event.
Actually, what this is is "Vantage Point: The Series." Remember that Dennis Quaid movie where they showed the same event from all the different perspectives? Only all they did was obscure different parts of the plot from certain characters’ vision. So it wasn’t really a mystery, it was a withholding of information. These stories and subplots could be told in order, only then you’d realize it’s not much of a story.
When Sophia and Simon or Sophia and Blake talk about the conspiracy, they refer to “the event.” I’ll buy that professional suits speak in vague terms, but if the only reason the event is a mystery is because you call it “the event” instead of specifically what it is, that’s going to be a letdown. When you reveal what “the event” is, we’ll just go, “Ohhhhhh. So it was that, but you called it the event to make it sound like a big deal.”
You know, we’ll all end up watching “The Event” for a few weeks just hoping it turns into something. I’m just calling it now. If “The Event” ends up not gripping the nation and becoming a phenomenon, I saw it coming.
"The Event" premieres Monday at 9/8c on NBC.