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The Event 1.01 – I Haven’t Told You Everything (Pilot)

NBC's The Event


Genre: Thriller/Drama

Grade: B-

Verdict: DVR

Too Long, Didn’t Read: A pilot that provides some interesting potential but is held back by alarming pacing faults.

Lost is over. Heroes was canceled. FlashForward tanked in creativity and popularity. V found its way into a 2nd season that won’t last past its initial 13-episode order.

Networks have attempted to create the next mythology-heavy appointment television show for a while now yet very few of these attempts have proven compelling, either creatively or commercially. Many feel that Lost was a fluke that may never be emulated while others assert that Lost makes it possible for heavy serials to exist. NBC is back again to capture this elusive serial audience with its newest drama, The Event.

Summarizing The Event is rather difficult because the show is rather challenging to describe based upon the pilot. Basically, Sean Walker’s (played by Joan of Arcadia‘s Jason Ritter) girlfriend Leila (Fired Up‘s Sarah Roemer) mysteriously disappears during a romantic getaway where Walker planned to propose. This will somehow lead him to discover “the biggest cover-up in U.S. history” (presumably, the titular event). There are many ingredients – thriller, drama, romance, all of which come together to create a hodgepodge hour that is the less of its parts.

Of course, that’s typical pilot fare. Pilots are hard – how do you balance showing a network the tone of the show with making something watchable for the audience? That’s especially hard when your show is marketed as a high-octane mythology-heavy thriller in vain of 24 or Lost.

What doesn’t work for The Event is the pacing. The pilot relies heavily on flashbacks, yet with little mastery of their usage the episode has a nasty effect of throwing the viewer through flashback after flashback with little connection to the present events. It all makes sense in the end, if you’re paying attention, but the first ten minutes are unnecessarily painful to digest. There are many easier ways to tell the same story with the same amount of tension and less viewer headache. While there are less flashbacks as the story progresses, they still are unnecessary blocks in the plot and only justify the thriller-like aspects during the first five minutes of the episode.

Another problem with these flashbacks, beyond the fractured narrative, is that parts of scenes that repeat over again from different view points with little fresh content that is repetitive and, frankly, annoying. I saw the conversation that Leila has on the phone with her father about the cruise. I don’t need to hear it again. The use of these flashbacks seems like a cheap attempt to extend the show by another 10 minutes instead of writing additional content that will undoubtedly be used in future episodes (even with the flashbacks, there are major gaps in time that need to be filled. Joy.)

The rest of the show is quite fun. If you can get past the narrative structure, you’re left with a compelling tale that asks many questions, provides palpable tension and definite mystery. While there isn’t much to Sean yet, the viewer is definitely left questioning what exactly drives him to get on the plane as well as the whereabouts of his fiance-t0-be. The Guantanamo-like prison in Alaska also provides the basis for much of the potential mythology, as does the mysterious Sophia (E.R.‘s Laura Innes). There’s an incredible sense of tension, especially when the timeline switches slow down and time runs at its normal course.

It’s the type of show that might frustrate, but for better or worse, will leave you asking questions. The pilot isn’t as good as FlashForward‘s, but that’s not necessarily a sign of what’s to come. There’s a good chance that The Event will not be structured too similarly too FlashFoward and will actually have a story to tell beyond a beginning and an end.

And if anything, you probably should stick around for The Event‘s end. It sends the show on an entirely different course than what is expected and, if anything else, creates the necessity to tune in next week.


2 Responses

  1. I have to agree that the pilot wasn’t quite what I thought it could be. It’s harder for me to put into words, since I’m less versed on anything film/television, but it seemed to me like it was juggling so many different aspects that it didn’t quite hit on any particular one.

    I’ll be looking forward to the following couple of episodes to find out more about the show, but throughout the first episode, I kept thinking, “This isn’t Lost, but it’s trying so hard!” Hopefully there is a great story here, with writers who will perhaps attempt to actually answer the questions that arise.

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