Impressions of “The Event”

Serial Dramas are dying out in broadcast television. Both LOST and 24 ended their long runs last year, and sci-fi dramas like Heroes and FlashForward fizzled away into nothingness as well.  Currently, very few networks are keen on running serial dramas, due to production costs and decreasing audience shares.  Yet, when these shows work, they often draw in large, fairly obsessed fans.  That’s why, every now and then, a network tries something new.  After losing Heroes last year, NBC decided to try a new drama this year that would get attention (with hopes at pulling in wayward fans of the now-ended LOST).  It is simply called “The Event.”  The pilot aired last night, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the episode.

After seeing the pilot, I can see why “The Event” has gotten so many comparisons to LOST – the first episode tells its story in flashforward/flashbacks similar to how LOST did storytelling back in its fourth season.  This technique was novel at the time, but it’s now so used (and so similar to LOST) that I feel I need to dock a few creativity points from the show.  True, telling the story out of order adds a lot mystery and adrenaline to the story, but at some point, it feels merely like an attempt to prolong the mysteries and less like an attempt to be original.  It seems like the creators of “The Event” watched some LOST from later seasons and thought “that’s cool – we should try that.”  The thing they seemingly forgot, however, was that LOST had spent three whole seasons prior developing and explaining the characters.  “The Event” rushes into its frenetic storytelling without giving us a clear idea who any of the characters are.  Yes, it’s mysterious, but at times it’s also aggravating.

One thing “The Event” did do successfully was its feeling of adrenaline and pacing.  While the storytelling technique was nothing new, the creators did do a good job of inducing a “what happens next” feeling throughout the episode.  The more intense scenes were at least fun to watch, even if you didn’t know what was going on.

So far, the mystery of why the "E" is backwards has yet to be solved.

As far as character development goes, we didn’t see much in this episode.  The main character, Sean Walker, was set up as a sympathetic and understandable character.  He’s a little bumbling, but at least he’s someone heroic we can root for.  If any character on the show has potential, it’s him.  The rest of the characters were fairly one dimensional.  There’s your mysterious character who knows more than she’s letting on.  There’s the noble leader trying to do the right thing.  There’s the slightly sinister people who could be bad guys, or at least good guys with their own agenda.  Nothing entirely new, at least.  Reviewing a pilot episode is always difficult because the characters have hardly been established.  I’m willing to let the lack of sufficient character development slide at this point in the game because the show still needs to get its feet on the ground.  If it stays like this, however, I may not be too gracious ten episodes from now.

Ultimately, the pilot episode of “The Event” leaves you asking the simple question, “What the heck did I just watch?”.  You get the vague sense that you were entertained, but you’re not sure why because very little of the show made sense (the ending of the episode especially seemed to come from left field).  According to interviews, the writers know where the show is going, which is good, but they also need to let the audience in on it a little more.  Mystery is good, but even the writers of LOST let you know something of what was going on (as in, it’s a drama about plane crash survivors on a weird island).  “The Event” promises that answers are coming and I don’t mind waiting for them, but it’s difficult to get invested when you’re not even sure what the premise is.  The last line of the episode is the understatement of the whole experience: “I haven’t told you everything.”  No dip.  In fact, you haven’t told us anything.

“The Event” is an attempt at getting a serialized mystery going on broadcast television again.  I wish the creators well because, when done right, these types of shows can be very enjoyable.  So far, the show has a glimmer of potential, but I’m not sold on it yet, as the pilot was just too convoluted to merit a positive review.  I am, however, willing to stick with the show for awhile longer and see how it fares.  Here’s hoping it becomes “the next LOST” and not the next FlashForward.

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~ by digitallysmitten on September 21, 2010.

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