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Category Archives: The Event

I’m Pretty Sure You Should Be Watching The Event

I’m going to start off assuming that you haven’t been watching The Event (which airs on NBC Monday nights at 9pmEDT).  Later, I’ll write a little more assuming the opposite, but I will mark it clearly so as not to spoil anything.

You might have watched that first episode and decided, “no thanks.”  I wouldn’t blame you – in fact, I almost wrote the show off myself.  Then I saw the second episode and thought that it addressed and corrected so much of what I had seen the week before that I concluded it was supposed to have been aired as a two-hour pilot. 

I have no idea if that’s true, but I was pretty excited to sit down and watch the third episode, and it didn’t disappoint me.

First, I do have to say, I’m on board now.  There are aliens afoot.  I’m pretty seriously capable of suspending some disbelief at this point, maybe more so than your average guy.  So to be clear – the show isn’t perfect yet.  Some kind of clunky coincidences happen, but on the other hand, the pace is nice and quick.  I’m not sure I’d want them to slow it down just for the sake of appeasing wiseasses like myself.

But the characters are starting to grow on me, in particular Sean Walker, played by Jason Ritter.  I really was not crazy about three of his biggest scenes thus far – the swimming pool scene, the proposal scene, and the scene where he gets her dad’s blessing.  I thought they all seemed too forced and cliche and really felt like bricks.

So I was pretty surprised when he gets into a rhythm later – he’s weirdly suited for the old Harrison Ford Everyman character. 

His storyline involves some really tense and well-done scenes, starting with a car crash that feels pretty real despite the kind of uninspired Pending Fuel Spill Explosion backdrop.  And later a character handcuffed to a bed has to stretch to retrieve a bag with her foot, just barely in reach, which was really tense.  

And then later it’s wall-to-wall action, and I can’t really go into it without spoiling anything except to say comparisons to 24 were apt, and in a good way.

The last two minutes are jaw-dropping.  I can assure you, I did not see that coming and it gave me chills and I am at a (nearly) complete loss as to what on Earth is going on.

So, I’m pretty sure you should be watching this show, is what I’m saying.

Okay, now if you haven’t been watching it, you should go – spoilers ahead.

SPOILERS!

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All right then.

The main thing I was looking for when I watched this episode was for anything to contradict my time-traveler theory.  I didn’t see anything, but on the other hand, I didn’t see much to support it.

However, listen:  Suppose the aliens are humans from the future.  The reason their DNA is different is because they are alien hybrids.  They are coming back in time to flee the end of the world or something. 

The military figures if they can keep the entire existence of their crash and the survivors totally secret, then the time traveling aliens will not be able to figure out where to come back in time and save them.

The time traveling aliens can intercede, they just need to know when and where.  So for instance they were able to determine when and where the plane would be, because once it crashed it became a matter of history.  So they went back and changed it.

If the alien crash had been public and everyone knew where they were being held, then they could have used similar technology to come back and get them. 

Now, someone in the comment section said The 4400 was also about time travelers.  I haven’t seen the show, so I’d be interested in hearing how close I am to it.  Maybe I’m psychically predicting the wrong show, through some kind of wormhole.

And then there’s the end – again get out of here if you haven’t seen it. 

All the dead bodies wake up.  Everybody was pretty clear that they were all extra super definitely dead earlier.  When they woke up, my first thought was that if they test all these people who are waking up, they’ll find their DNA is one percent different. 

Do the aliens change us into aliens?  Or do they inhabit human bodies?  Or do they just go around making time traveling alien zombies for no reason?

That was a pretty chilling thing, all those dead people.  If they’re just alive now and not aliens or zombies or anything, then they’d better have a good reason for taking it back.

This is a strange show when practically any sci-fi device can serve as a theory.  Clones?  Parallel dimensions? Alien hybrids?  Teleportation?  Time travel?  Almost a little too much – it reminds me of another show that used to whack me over the head with a jawdropping cliffhanger every week. 

Yet here I go jumping on board – there’s one born every minute.
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Earlier: The Event: First Impressions

And: The Event: The Second Half Of A Decent Pilot
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And initially: The Event Shows Promise And Cause For Alarm

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And not-very-related: THE WAY OF MCCHEESE

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 5, 2010 in Television/Movies, The Event

 

The Event: The Second Half Of A Decent Pilot

That’s the main thing that seems to have happened here.  This should have been a two-hour pilot episode, and the second half is pretty good.

There was a lot about the first episode I didn’t like, but most of it was kind of picky.  Forgivable if they keep the story moving along.  And it wasn’t at all clear that they were going to do that at first. 

You can read all about the picky stuff I didn’t like right here.  And you should know that there are going to be spoilers ahead, so if knowing that I like the second episode is enough to get you to go watch it, then go do that and come back.

Spoilers ahead.

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Okay.  So one of the first things they show us is what happens to the plane – I like that.  I was really afraid I was supposed to sit around for two or three years waiting on the plane to show up again.

The crash again smacks of LOST – just about anybody ought to be able to admit that LOST owns plane crashes on television for a while, and for a moment or two, it threatens to get too comfortable with it.  There’s a fire in the plane, an evacuation, some heroics, etc. 

And I was thinking, okay they’re in some parallel dimension or something and they’ll have to survive here – again, too much like LOST – and ended up genuinely surprised by who turned out to have been flying the plane and why.

So I got some answers and they were surprising – a good sign.

More good news:  head of the CIA tells the President that the Alaskan prisoners are aliens.

Right when aliens show up, I develop superpowers when it comes to lightening up about other things.  And indeed, there are still some distractingly bad, cliche’ lines coming out of the President still – “I want the truth!”   And the weirdly long swimming pool scene which I just failed to find cute or charming.  And stereotypically long trips to have face-to-face conversations which could have easily happened over the phone.

Not nearly so much of all that, however, and a lot of improvement as well.  For example, those one-sided conversations they were having last week changed into regular conversations.  Instead of saying vague, general things about a mysterious Event, the exchanges were meaningful and informative – the way they ought to be if they warranted a place in the script.

In fact, my favorite question of the night came out of the President’s mouth – “Why are we holding them?”

Almost too good a question.  I kind of have a hard time believing that it would take so long for someone to ask that question.  Anyway, it was a non-frustrating exchange.  The show has an X-Files feel to it, and so they’re going to want to refrain from relying on mysterious conversations with mysterious strangers in mysterious parking garages.  They’re going to want to refrain from cliche’ and aimless teasing.  And right now, they’re refraining from it just fine.

I think the problem really was the pilot was meant to be two hours long, and so they kind of tried to stretch it out.  This second episode really balances it out.

Some further evidence of a compelling season:

 The creepy swinger couple was exactly one half a red herring.  I assumed they were both behind the kidnapping, then got a little annoyed when the male half of the creepy swinger couple got killed, clearly knowing nothing about it.  I thought, that was too weird and unbelievable to be there as a throwaway.   Then on the second viewing I (think) I picked up that the girl was a part of the kidnapping, her dude just didn’t know it.  That’s clever and I like clever.

The fate of the other passengers including the pilot – that’s hard ball.  I am weirdly impressed that they went that dark, especially since it makes sense.  That’s how the super bad guys would handle that situation, that’s how they are.  Some kinds of shows would find a way to let everyone go, maybe the old memory erase pill or something.  I’m impressed by villains who do horrible things when it makes horrible sense, not just for the sake of horrible.  It’s somehow more realistic and therefore scarier.

Also the brief scene where the agent gets blood drawn using the Waterbeds and Stuff-type supply of human blood under the skin of his arm in a fake vein – that was kind of inspired.  They didn’t have to think it through that much and a lot of shows wouldn’t have.

The nurse in the hospital who is told Sean is a murder suspect, insteading of falling in love with him and helping him, turns him in the very first moment she gets – he’s about twenty steps away from her.

Similarly, he does not elude the federal marshalls, and is instead apprehended.  A bit of a happy coincidence that they then have to drive through the desert exactly where Sean recognizes himself as having crashed, but I’ll take it.

There are human-form aliens walking among us, a government conspiracy to cover it up, and some kind of teleportation technology at work.  An X-Files kind of show that feels more like  24 when you’re watching it.  As long as they understand that I don’t expect to finish the story on my extra special own with my imagination and a stack of books, then this show and I might get along just fine.

Official prediction:  The survivors are not aliens.  They are time travelers.  The alien story is the watered-down version designed to give out to the President if they ever had to.  The truth is they are time travelers – superevolved humans from our own future.  You heard it here first.
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Earlier: The Event Shows Promise And Cause For Alarm
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And: The Event: First Impressions
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And: Time Travelers Among Us

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Television/Movies, The Event

 

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The Event: First Impressions

 

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.

 
8 Comments

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

 

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The Event Shows Promise And Cause For Alarm

This is a crucial stage right here – deciding whether or not to get on board The Event – and I am perched squarely on the fence about it.

There’s no doubt it’s trying to follow in the footsteps of LOST, and to me that’s a bad thing.  If I knew six or even three years ago what I know now about LOST, I never would have watched it, plain and simple. 

LOST is like an abusive, long term relationship in my past – it may well have ruined any posssibility of a healthy relationship in the future.  I was absolutely in love with LOST and absolutely appalled by the ending.

I’ve found a lot of people who feel the same way, and a lot of people who feel differently, and I do know this much – there are smart examples of people on both sides of the debate.  So I really don’t want to hear it if you think that being appalled by the end of LOST or reluctant to sign on to a new version of it equals me being stupid.

In return, I promise not to label anyone else as stupid for watching or liking The Event.  That’s not what it means when I point out a part of a show that I think is stupid.  I like lots of shows in which stupid stuff happens right and left.

You can tell me how important the journey is all you want, and you’re right.  The journey is important.  But the destination is also important.  In fact, I would say it is equally important.  So a fantastic journey followed by a dud of a destination is 50%.

That’s an F in any classroom, but it’s a stellar batting average.  So the question is, do you look at a show you’re watching as if you’re a teacher giving it a grade, or as if you’re a fan watching a baseball player?

Well, since I’m a writer, I’m slapping a grade on it.  And if the show is doing a bunch of stuff that I would never let myself do, and then passing itself off as artistic and smart for doing all that – well, they’re going to lose me. 

And it’s okay – they can keep you, and it doesn’t make you stupid, and it doesn’t make me stupid, because it’s just a television show. 

So I guess I just want to be very clear with The Event, regarding my expectations of it .  At the end of LOST, a lot of people were telling me that I should not have expected much of a rational resolution.  What happened where, and why people were time-traveling and why people were building hilarious structures and where rules were coming from and where the four-toed people went, that apparently wasn’t the point.

Sometimes folks would even demand that I show them a link to where Cuse and Lindelof actually said they’d answer the questions.  As if the existence of the questions themselves wasn’t enough.

Right here at the beginning, I’d like to say that it’s really easy to throw around a bunch of mystery, and then later not resolve it and claim you’re being artistic.  It’s really easy to tell me, “Oh, you would have understood if only you’d watched these eight podcasts and read these ten books.”

That’s not how I see things. 

I’m going to watch this television show, not take a graduate level course on it. 

I expect the story to be contained within the show, much like East of Eden was contained between the front and back covers of the book.  Much like practically any great work of literature or film stands on its own, I expect this television show to do the same.

See, allowing your story to flow all over history is a lack of discipline, not the presence of depth.  That’s more like hiding your lack of a story within the Giant Story of the World. 

Agatha Christie never put out a press release stating, “I hereby promise to tell you all whodunit by the end of this book.”  She didn’t have to, because that’s a reasonable expectation of a mystery novel. 

If she ever started putting out mystery novels in which, at the end she told you that it was your own shallow expectations that had failed you, and that you should go and read Dante’s Inferno to try to piece together who did it, she would have started losing readers in droves.

The standard response to this is – “Oh, Tom needs spoon fed.”  And sure, you can call it whatever you want.  The way I see it, a storyteller is taking us on a trip.  He or she is driving, we are in the passenger seat.  They’re either going to take us somewhere cool, or drive around for a while and then drop us off in the middle of nowhere.

I hope it’s the first one, makers of The Event.  Because after LOST, if I get the feeling it’s the second one, I’m jumping out of this car at the next red light and running like hell – and I don’t think I’m alone.

For now, I like it, and I’m watching, and I have my theories about it, and I find it fairly engaging.  I am, however, suspicious of it, and I’m not going to be a brainless cheerleader for the show – they’ll have to earn my respect and they’re on their way to doing that. 

I’ll post some of those theories this week.

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The Event: First Impressions

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Things I Like To See

 
17 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Television/Movies, The Event

 

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