You can imagine the group of writers behind The Event pitching ideas to each other for a show:
“Hey, you know what really hooked people into Lost? The plane crash. Our pilot needs a plane crash!”
“Yes, it does. It also needs some sort of massive disaster just like FlashForward. That pilot got people talking.”
“Good point! And you know what made season one of 24 so popular? Jack being forced to do things against his will while his family is held hostage! Hey, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s throw all of those things together and make a pilot!”
That is kind of what the pilot to The Event is like, a mishmash of ideas and plots that you’ve seen before, but then with flashbacks and a jumping timeline to make things even more confusing (and samey) for the audience.
The pilot starts off with Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, son of the late John Ritter) getting on a plane, looking nervous and sweating profusely. Looking out the window, he sees agents running to stop his flight and a black 4×4 screeching down the runway to stop his flight. Who is this guy? Is he a terrorist? Is he a drug runner? Is he simply scared of flying?
Jump back eight weeks and Sean is about to go on a cruise with his girlfriend Leila (Sarah Roemer of Disturbia fame, who seems contractually obligated to appear in a bikini) with plans to propose. Things go awry, however, when the couple befriend another couple (after saving one of them from drowning) and go drinking.
The next morning, Leila isn’t feeling well, so Sean goes off snorkelling, but returns hours later to find his girlfriend missing, his suite occupied by another passenger, and the cruise ship having no record of them at all.
Is he crazy? Is he mad? Are the new couple dodgy? Why does his suite light keep flickering? Who knows?
Meanwhile, the President (Blair Underwood) is about to make an announcement about the closing of some secret government ‘prison’ in Alaska, populated with 90 plus inmates, one of whom is Sophia (Laura Innes of ER). The President’s advisors seem adamant that he not close this facility, but Sophia seems harmless enough. So, what’s the big deal?
Oh, and while all this is going on, Leila’s little sister is being kidnapped and her father is being forced to hijack a plane….
Confused? It’s not hard to follow when you’re watching it, but it’s a bitch to explain. If you ever saw the film Vantage Point, it’s very much like that. You are introduced to several characters and then the film jumps back and forth from a given event showing you what happened before.
The problem with The Event is that we’re barely introduced to these characters and while we’re trying to learn about them, the show is jumping around three different time periods (the current timeline as the event is happening, three weeks ago, and thirteen months ago) and going to other people’s perspectives. Not only is this annoying, but in a 40 minute show, we are seeing things we’ve already seen but from another person’s point of view, and to sit through repeated sections of dialogue is just annoying
I may sound like I hated it, but I didn’t. I’m a big fan of the ‘epic genre’ series and starting a series off with a big disaster is a sure-fire way to hook me in, but the problem with The Event is that it has too many balls in the air and doesn’t seem to know what to do with them.
If it slows down on the multiple story arcs and eases up on the constant time-shifting, it has the potential to be a keeper, but judging from my girlfriend rolling her eyes and fiddling with her phone throughout the show, if they don’t solve these problems quick, they are going to lose their audience.
And as for the last minute twist, they better have a good explanation for that. If they drag this out like Lost and leave me all at sea with no resolution, I am going to be most disappointed.
The Event will be premiering in the UK on Channel 4 at the end of October.