Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Event-"And Then There Was More" and "Inostranka"

My review of the return of the Event that aired last night is after the jump.

This is a show that I had a lot of trouble getting into. When it aired in the fall I watched it, thinking that it would be a fantastic show, possibly filling the "Lost" sized hole in my heart. Instead what I saw was a show that relied on stupid plot twists and a show with nonexistent characterization. I liked some of the actors but I had no connection to any of the characters and had no investment in the plotlines. I didn't purposely drop out but other things got in the way (as well as a couple of other shows on Monday) that prevented me from watching beyond episode 4. I decided not to catchup on the fall episodes hoping that by the time the show hit episode 11 and 12 (the episodes that aired tonight), it would have learned its lesson and would have become a better show.

What I found when I watched the two episodes that served as the return of the show was a show that knew what story it wanted to tell but couldn't tell it very well. It had a clear sense in the story it wanted to tell but the story is very, very silly and is boring to watch at points. The first hour I was thinking, Am I Watching a Syfy Saturday Night Movie? The show was not intending to be funny, but the hour was surprisingly comedic. I know I wasn't supposed to be laughing, but what I was thinking was, this show would be pretty damn funny if that's what its intention was. Because it took itself seriously, I found the first hour to be frustratingly slow, with not much happening at all besides reintroduction for me. (This may be because I dropped out of the show after four episodes but it still seemed like 40 minutes with nothing new happening).

I found the second hour to be much stronger then the first. I'm glad that NBC decided to air the two of these episodes together because if I had just seen the first of the two I would have thought much less of the show and would have completely written it off as a failed serialized drama that had no sense in story and had no characterization at all. The second hour still didn't do that much in terms of characterization but it did give better material to these actors and it had a very cool attempted jailbreak scene. The hour was much better at storytelling and quite frankly it was much better then the first hour. It almost held my interest enough to watch another episode, not quite, but almost.

I'll get the worst part of the show over with first. The Sean/Leila storyline is clearly the show's Achilles heel because I really don't care. It's very difficult to make me not care about talented people but the characters aren't interesting and the show has no use for them anymore. It's one thing to use the character as a hook, and a pretty terrible hook at that, but to use a character who doesn't fit into the show's mythology anymore. The show has moved on from their presence and if it just focused on the potential alien invasion it would be a much better show. I like Jason Ritter quite a bit and he's a very talented actor. His appearance on Parenthood last week reminded me of just how good he is, he seemed relieved to be playing a multi-dimensional character. On this show, he's not very good. It's not his fault, his character is just very poorly written. It doesn't help that Sarah Roemer is giving a very wooden performance and it's difficult for me to care about her character, not just because she's poorly written, but because she's not giving a performance that comes even close to drawing me into her character. It became certain to me that I don't give a crap about these characters when I didn't care when Sean left Leila after finding out she's not human (seriously, that's what happened). I want to care but I really can't. 

As much as I like Blair Underwood, I don't know if I like President Martinez and the political plotline. The opening scene with Martinez and his cabinet was just silly. It was another scene where I just wanted to laugh. It was so stupid and it really didn't set the tone of the show that the writers were intending very well. They handled his character better as the two hours moved along. It culminated in a scene where Underwood did a good job with OK material. Him shutting up the Senator was one of the more interesting scene almost because of how silly it was. The character is not handled well but I almost began to care by the time the hour had ended.

I enjoyed Virginia Madsen's guest appearance on the show. She wasn't a great character but I like Madsen. Her character created a plotline that wasn't great, but I didn't find myself invested. The show just isn't good enough that it can throw in a guest character and have them be good. I liked Madsen, but her character doesn't do much in terms of the overall arc of the show and she didn't do much for me at all.

The strongest part by far was everything involving Thomas. These were the parts of the episodes that worked for me because they were interesting and I actually gave a crap about what was happening. These were the parts of the episode that actually mattered to the overall arc of the show. The prison break sequence was actually interesting because it mattered to the show. Thomas's Coup D'Etat was actually interesting because Clifton Collins Jr. was giving a convincing performance that made the scene really work. Also, it gave great material to Zeljko Ivanek as Sterling. He's one of the few characters that I liked and I was disappointed when he was shot at the end of the episode. That twist felt like it was completely unnecessary. I hope that they continue to bring the focus onto the battle of power between Sophia (*) and Thomas as this is the most interesting part of the show.

(*) Who as always was played very well by Laura Innes who did great with the material she was given (even if there wasn't a lot).

Overall, I liked aspects of the premiere but it's not enough to keep me watching every week. I'll check back in with (what will certainly be the series) finale to see if the show has learned its storytelling lessons and created characters that were more then one dimensional.

What did everyone else think of the return? Will you be sticking around for more?

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