Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Event, and Why It Might Not Suck

The "must-watch" advertisements for TV pilots every September can get tiring. I watch a grand total of two shows with any regularity: Mad Men (because it's outstanding) and Project Runway (because I like my Thursday nights with an injection of fabulousness).

I don't like investing in a show too early anyway, because it'll inevitably suck after a decent pilot (Kings), start strong and drift into a shadow of its former self (I couldn't even watch the last season of 24), or be something I love that gets taken off the air too soon (I still haven't forgiven David Milch for abandoning my beloved Deadwood for the abomination that was John From Cincinnati. Fucker). I stick with the American Idols of the world because I know exactly what I'm getting, and I generally won't start watching a drama until its second or third season and an established track record. Or if it includes Jon Hamm.

But illness and boredom won out last week, and I caught The Event on On Demand. It wasn't bad, but the writers made the mistake of trying to establish its characters before getting to anything resembling a plot, and as a result I almost turned it off after Jason Ritter's eleventh bumbling attempt to propose to his girlfriend. We get it, show: he loves her and will do stupid, stupid things (like hijacking a plane) to find her.

The Event needed to take a cue from LOST's outstanding pilot and immediately start by blowing things up and killing people. LOST really didn't fuck around on that front; within the first five minutes you had everything you needed to know to get you hooked. Plane crash? Check. Island? Check. Diverse cast of clashing characters? Check. Also: explosions. The show would have failed if it'd spent the first hour establishing Jack's daddy issues or Kate's general annoyingness, and the audience wouldn't have cared anyway. We care about how they react to a disaster, and that type of storytelling is better at establishing characters than any amount of exposition ever could.

Theoretically, The Event has everything in place to be interesting: a government conspiracy, sci-fi elements, Zeljko Ivanek being his creepy self, and Blair Underwood in a suit. Now it just needs to, y'know, actually be interesting, because instead of showing us all these interesting things it spent most of its pilot with a dopey young couple that wasn't particularly likable.

Cloverfield made the same mistake in its opening fifteen minutes, forcing the audience to listen to the half-drunken ramblings of pretty people with relationship problems at a party in an expensive NYC loft apartment before the monster decided to show up and decapitate the Statue of Liberty. I don't want to hear about these people's issues, particularly when they aren't even germane to the rest of the plot. I want to watch them running and screaming and fighting off mutant subway spiders with tire irons.

Of course, Cloverfield turned into a lot of fun once all the clunky exposition was out of the way. I'm giving The Event two more weeks to impress me.

EDIT: See what happens when they don't listen to me? Not even the promise of Blair Underwood on my TV could keep me watching.

EDIT, PART 2: "Mutant Subway Spiders" would be a great band name.

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