The Event: First Impressions

22 Sep


On the one hand, it’s a really interesting premise and it’s my kind of show.  It’s got a Sci-Fi angle to it, it’s going to be kind of out there, and it uses a nonlinear method of storytelling that can either be really effective or really lazy, and right now it seems like it could go either way.

I’ll start with the positive.  It’s awfully slick.  The production and cinematography is high end – you don’t get that clunky feeling where your imagination runs into a low budget once in a while. 

And the premise involves some vague Event which I’ll talk more about in detail in the next post, so as not to spoil anything, but whatever it is, the CIA has been “handling” it for a long time.

I love the scope of it – the mysterious Alaskan base, the hidden CIA history, the hit squads and the dramatic fate of the plane.  I love the intrigue and mystery but I’m worried there might be so much it’s overpowering.  Like garlic or the wrong kind of pepper – you can spoil a broth that way. 

If there’s a veil over everything, then nothing’s mysterious.  Watch yourselves, I’m thinking. 

And okay, I definitely love how all of these plotlines are converging, but only if they converge.  If they just sit there and go nowhere, well then that wasn’t scope at all.  It was random, dramatic wandering.  I like everything to hook up correctly, when I go back through and watch it again. 

I like when the director winks at you that second time, throws in a few details that couldn’t possibly mean anything unless it was your second time through it.

Some kind of Alaskan version of Gitmo, too, where people are being detained for mysterious reasons that characters keep talking about right in front of us without disclosing much information at all.  Reallly not crazy about the first conversation we see between the female prisoner and the man interrogating her – we learn almost nothing

Seems to me, if you’re going to be so mysterious you aren’t going to give us a thing, then what are we all doing here?  Why are we even watching this scene?  Why not watch them go to the bathroom?

Let’s say there’s a door in the story, and none of the characters know what’s behind the door.  So in the course of the story, they keep talking about the door and investigating what might be behind it, but no one has opened it yet in the narrative, so we as viewers/readers/whatever don’t know what’s in there. 

That tends to come off as compelling – we’re sharing the mystery with the characters, and trying to solve it as they are, based on what they learn right there in front of us.

In The Event, many of the characters know exactly what The Event is.  And they talk about it right in front of us, but they just happen to be using carefully constructed dialogue so as to reveal nothing about it. 

In other words, the only reason it’s a mystery is that the show selectively won’t tell us.  We’re not sharing the experience with most of these folks so much as following along behind them, asking questions and getting ignored.

I’m not sure I have the patience for too much of that. 

Also, when you’re on a cruise with your girlfriend and you meet a couple and the hot girl side of that couple wants to go snorkeling with you and then the next day your girlfriend is too hungover to go snorkeling, here’s what happens:  You don’t go snorkeling.

Your girlfriend does not send you snorkeling with the hot girl whose boyfriend has a broken arm and can’t go snorkeling either.  I would find teleportation to be more believable than that.

Another bit of dialogue that stood out like a cliche brick:  “That information is Need to Know.”

“Well, I’m the President of the United States, and I need to know.”

First impression –  that’s lazy.  It doesn’t mean the whole show is lazy, but look – that exchange has happened at least a hundred times in political thrillers.  It’s like a late night conversation in a shadowy parking garage, or a shoeshine guy who keeps his ear to the ground – what’s the word on the streets, Johnny? 

Also, that’s not how it works.  Either the President has clearance to view the information or he doesn’t.

It’s not a play on words at that level, it’s strict protocol.  Sure, it’s top secret stuff that the President was given on the sly, and it would be hard to keep telling him no, but it wouldn’t be because he said, “Say, I need to know – that fits the Need To Know criteria!  Yay!”

But you know, Dumb is not a dealbreaker.  Most television shows are sort of dumb, and frequently it’s for brevity. 

People don’t really act like that in courtrooms, and cops don’t really handle cases like that, and high school kids don’t really break out into choreographed dance numbers.  

Dumb is usually excusable – I mean what do I want, an actual trip through the convoluted protocol that would no doubt be necessary for the President to gain proper clearance? 

Still, it’s the kind of thing I notice, and that I can’t un-notice.

And later I don’t want to hear about how dumb I am for not liking your ending, if it’s this dumb.

Because I’m sort of cutting you a break here, with all the regular television dumbness. 

It’s the deliberate, omnipresemt mystery that both intrigues and bothers me – the parallels between this show and LOST are very striking.  Much of the pilot episode takes place on an airplane, and involves an imminent crash – it really feels like you’re watching LOST.  It’s eerie.

Also, it feels like a bit of a cheat, jumping around in time like that.  Of course it’s going to be mind-boggling, if all the characters are going to use ambiguous language about everything, and also they’re not going to even tell you the story in order.  I could make a trip to the grocery store seem mysterious in such a context – and that’s exactly what I’m worried about.

So I can see that I’m going to have to relax a bit if I’m going to enjoy this show.  No problem – I can do that.  But it’s hard to stay relaxed if they keep startling me with dumb stuff.  Not trying to be a jerk, just reporting my experience here.

I’ll watch it again with a better attitude, and put up theories next.


Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Television/Movies, The Event


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

8 responses to “The Event: First Impressions

  1. Trisha

    September 23, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Was wondering if you’d be watching this. I DVR’d it but haven’t watched it yet. Guess I’ll give it a shot so I can continue to read your posts.

    • thomaschalfant

      October 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Trisha – I was going through and getting the links for a later post and just now saw this – are you still watching it?

      • Trisha Hilton

        October 31, 2010 at 3:34 am

        Just watched about four or five episodes tonight. Pretty good. Two more episodes and I’ll be all caught up. Have to admit though, I’d pry watch just to see Jason Ritter.

      • Trisha Hilton

        October 31, 2010 at 3:36 am

        Just watched about a marathon of episodes tonight. Pretty good. Two more episodes and I’ll be all caught up. Have to admit though, I’d pry watch just to see Jason Ritter.

      • Trisha Hilton

        October 31, 2010 at 3:44 am

        Sorry for the double post. My future self must’ve gotten ahold of the laptop before my current self realized it.

        Keep in mind, I’m two episodes away from being current, but are you still liking it? One of your posts said you liked that the bad guys killed off everyone on the plane. Thoughts now after the passengers have been awakened?

      • thomaschalfant

        October 31, 2010 at 12:45 pm

        I do still like the show, but yeah, I think that’s a weird path for the plot to take – all the passengers are saved by teleporting, then bad guys show up and apparently kill them all, then they all wake up and they aren’t really dead, and then it turns out they are all in terrible danger of dying again. Feels kind of like they’re wandering a little bit, but I do still like the show. I think I might be an episode behind right now myself. I haven’t been able to come up with a full post worth of stuff to say with every episode so I’ve held off. Is this a new IP address or something? Your comments didn’t post automatically for some reason.


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