Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Event

(This post doesn't contain any spoilers, so if you're planning on watching the series premiere of "The Event" but haven't yet, you're safe. That is, unless you're like me and like to watch these shows with NO prior knowledge whatsoever.)

I've been talking about life after "Lost" and "24", and our quest to find suitable replacements for those shows in our television lineup, for months now. Turns out at least one show is trying very hard - perhaps a little too hard, in fact - to fill that void: NBC's "The Event", which debuted on Monday.

Going in, I didn't know a whole lot about what "The Event" would be. All I knew is that based on advertisements, they were clearly going after the "Lost" and/or "24" crowd. (Well, it worked!) Amber's prediction for the plot was that a smoke monster would have 24 hours to...

While Amber's silly prediction didn't pan out, indeed they are blatantly trying to be "Lost" and "24" rolled into one. The show started by showing the time...sort of like "24". There's a black president, and an apparent terrorist plot to assassinate him...just like the first season of "24". (I mean, exactly like the first season of "24".) Shoot, the credits for "The Event" even use the same exact font that "24" used for its credits. But unlike "24", this show will include some minor sci-fi elements...like "Lost". Apparently, this show will be more character-driven, with some characters' backstories revealed through flashbacks...like "Lost". And each episode (or at least the premiere) ends abruptly with a quick screen shot displaying the name of the show...just like every episode of "Lost". (Well, it's not exactly the same: "The Event" closing title shot is black text on a white background; with one exception, "Lost" always ended with white text on a black background. So...it's different, but it's the same.)

Given the popularity of "Lost" and "24", looking to them for inspriation isn't a bad idea, especially because both shows are now off the air. But do they really have to be so blatant about it?

And you see...here's the thing. "Lost" and "24" were cultural phenomenons with strong cult followings. Some people had nothing better to do than dissect every second of "Lost" footage or count how many people Jack Bauer has killed. I don't know if the creators of "Lost" or "24" intended for their shows to be such cult hits from the beginning, but if they did, they got lucky. Most of the time, it doesn't work out. You can't plan for your show to be a cult hit. It just happens. If you try too hard, you'll almost always fail. That's the vibe I'm getting from "The Event". I think they're trying too hard to be "big". Hopefully they don't sap all the life out of the series in the first six episodes.

Really, it comes down to this: as long as the writing is sound, the characters and actions are believeable (within the framework of the show), and the show is entertaining and exciting, everything will work out just fine. When things start moving too slowly, or we find ourselves saying "well, that's stupid" every five minutes, then we're in trouble. Personally, I think the "expected value" or "over/under" for "The Event" is a lifespan similar to "Heroes" (which I never watched): a good first season, followed by a failed second season, followed by two more seasons that hardly anybody watched or cared about. But it could go anywhere from a first season failure to an eight season success. We'll have to see.

The pilot episode had its flaws, and there were a couple of "well, that's stupid" moments. But Amber and I both found the plot interesting and entertaining enough, and I admit I'm very intrigued, so we're going to stick with it for a while. "The Event" has a lot of potential, and I really hope its potential is realized. But I'm trying to keep my expectations low in the meantime.

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