NBC's last big fantasy series "Heroes" crashed and burned in two seasons, while languishing on for two more. ABC's last big fantasy series "Lost" ran for a strong, well-planned six seasons, culminating in a derisive, but mostly satisfying finale. Lusting after the same kind of success, NBC's latest entry in the genre is "The Event," a show they promoted ad nauseum all summer long.
"What is 'The Event?'" the promos asked, over and over again. And I must admit, my curiosity was piqued. And now that I've seen the first two episodes, I can honestly say... "Meh."
"The Event" has a likable and (mostly) attractive enough cast: Jason Ritter (son of the late John, most recently seen on "Parenthood"); Blair Underwood ("Dirty Sexy Money;" "The New Adventures of Old Christine"); Laura Innes ("E.R."); Scott Patterson ("The Gilmore Girls") and "Heroes" and "Damages" alum Zeljko Ivanek are joined by a bunch of folks you've seen a million times, including hotties Wes Ramsey and Ian Anthony Dale.
So far, the plot concerns a vast conspiracy dating back to the 1940's when a group of aliens apparently crash-landed in the Alaskan mountains, where the majority of them have since been held in a top-secret facility. Led by the mysterious Sophia (Innes), the aliens are keeping a secret which will apparently have a major impact on the world. Meanwhile, lovers Sean (Ritter) and Leila (Sarah Roemer) have been separated while on a cruise. Leila's father Michael (Patterson) is a pilot who is forced (it's a long story) to fly a plane into the Presidential Compound in Miami, where President Elias Martinez (Underwood) is about to hold a press conference revealing the presence of the ETs. The ETs magically transport the plane to the Arizona desert at the last minute. Sean, aboard the plane in an attempt to stop his future father-in-law from killing the Prez is the only survivor to escape, only to be arrested for the murder of Greg (Dale), a guy he and Leila met while on the cruise. Greg's girlfriend Vicky (Taylor Cole) is not who she presents herself to be and everyone is completely confused by what's going on.
Two episodes in and we already have more answers than "Lost" gave us in it's first season, but the time-jumping plot already seems threadworn and annoying. I really want to like "The Event" (especially thanks to its charismatic cast) and I hope it gets better as it goes along, though I don't hold much hope for it reaching whatever conclusion the writers have in mind. An especially icky moment where an alien in CIA disguise removes a fake vein from his arm was most effective in episode 2, but I somehow want more conspiracy and less boring character background -- the scene in which Sean and Leila meet, 5 years before the events of "The Event," seemed particularly contrived and silly, especially since it had absolutely nothing to do with what is happening in the story's present timeline. Kudos, though, to the inclusion of Tony "Candyman" Todd as General Whitman in Episode 1 Let's hope the writers of "The Event" are smart enough to keep us interested throughout whatever it is they have planned for us. I really like this cast and hope they have a long-enough run to make my attention worthwhile. **1/2 (Two and a Half Stars Out of Four).
And on a side note: RIP Arthur Penn, director of Bonnie and Clyde, among other iconic works. That's 2 out of 3...