THE EVENT Series Premiere Review

     September 20, 2010

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When a network touts a series calling itself The Event and launches a marketing campaign intent on capitalizing on the fact that nobody knows what the series and the event lying therein is about, it better deliver in 45 minutes or less. While there’s enough mystery and intrigue amongst a non-linear and somewhat confusing storyline, people looking for an immediately satisfying and equally compelling replacement for the recently retired Lost may not be so pleased. Hit the jump to find out why The Event has potential, but may not be the event for which viewers have been waiting.

While Lost had a two part pilot to draw in viewers, The Event is stuck with only 45 minutes to convince viewers that this mystery is worth following (for who knows how long). However, the reason for the lack of a long pilot becomes clear with a lack of substantial characters and content manifests itself in the form of a repetitive and constantly shifting timeline as we witness the same time period more than a few times from the POV of several of the main characters. In addition, flashbacks give us a sense of the characters without revealing any real information about the story.

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As the lead-up to the catalyst for the series unfolds, our main characters President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood), Michael Buchanan (Scott Patterson), Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale), and Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) along with his girlfriend Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer) as have their role in the impending craziness revealed along with flashbacks to different time periods before the forthcoming craziness. The flashbacks either illustrate the previous innocence and naive nature of our characters now caught up in the mystery or the established involvement or questioning of the mystery itself. If this is at all confusing, I know how you feel. I’ve seen the pilot, and I’m not even sure what the hell is going on yet. Sadly this may turn out to be more of a problem for the series rather than a driving force to gain a big audience.

Here’s the rundown of some of the key points within the pilot (don’t worry about spoilers, because there’s nothing to spoil yet). An airplane gets hijacked and while Sean Walker seems to be the crazy one as he draws a gun during the plane’s take-off, it’s actually who’s flying the plane that we should be worried about. Meanwhile, Simon Lee (who’s already somehow involved with the secrets of the story) is trying to chase down the plane to stop it from taking off. And while the question certainly arises as to why Walker (who was about to propose to his girlfriend) is suddenly waving a gun around on a hijacked plane that seems to be heading towards President Martinez, the problem is that we don’t have any reason to care because the stakes haven’t been defined and neither have the characters (at least enough to care about their fate). Meanwhile a mysterious group of detainees seem to be involved with the absolute end of the pilot which brings about the big head-scratching mystery that will likely drive the entire series.

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While I’m certainly interested in seeing where the writers are taking The Event, it seems as if they have made the shroud surrounding its mystery so dark that the vague and secretive nature of the unknown is almost silly. While this would be a good enough reason to give up completely on the series, the ending of the pilot itself is something so outlandish that you can’t help but want to see where it goes from here. However, this isn’t the best way to start a series that will likely require dedication every week for seasons to come (as long as people keep tuning in anyway) since there just isn’t the same depth and substance that came from a series like Lost which provided well-rounded and well-written characters, drama and action in addition to lurking mystery. There doesn’t seem to be any intrinsic value to the story within The Event and a lack of information doesn’t necessarily guarantee a quality mystery.

THE FINAL WORD: Viewers looking for a replacement to dampen the loss of Lost won’t find the same quality writing or story in The Event (at least not yet), but the promise of lingering, though undefined, mystery might be enough to bring viewers back every week. If people are just as curious as I am to see what follows the inexplicable happenings of the conclusion of the pilot for The Event then NBC has already won.

The Event premieres Monday, September 20th (tonight) at 9/8c on NBC.

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