Monday, 27 September 2010

The Event: Pilot Episode Review

And on the eighth day God created Lost, which was as confused as a Franz Kafka protagonist. But as addictive as Lost may have been it proved to be too contrived for even a celestial being to draw a clear conclusion from and so God chose to end his creation after six long seasons without bothering to answer a damned question, much like visiting your local Citizen’s advice bureau. But now Lost has gone creating a feeling of relief - yet sorrow and longing at the same time, which is how the ugliest of wenches must have felt upon discovering marauding Vikings pillaging their home village in search of buxom maidens to ravish. Despite the show annoyingly being akin to talking to that one friend who on Microsoft Network Messenger always answers questions with fucking questions it was at least something different to the usual boring shows which take up 98% of the airwaves; such as “John Bland buys a carton of milk”.

If you miss your weekly helpings of layer upon layer of mystery drawn out longer than Sean Connery’s death in The Untouchables, then fret no longer as there be a new pretender to the throne – creatively titled The Event. Along with the show title and the title of the pilot episode “I haven’t told you everything” the viewer should instantly realize that the creator Nick Wauters is an alumnus of The Snoop Dogg School of Subtlety. Also why does the logo have the third E backwards reminiscent of a 3? Is it going to be part of a Da Vinci code style plot which stays true to Wauters’ terminal lack of subtlety? Regardless these three signs set my brain’s warning siren off like the inebriated but fame hungry woman’s rape alarm on a football team night out.

One thing that I gauged from the pilot episode is that this show is going to command more concentration than an ADHD suffering sniper targeting a scene kid house party. The plot is told mostly through a series of flashbacks which irrefutably means this show must be better than Lost because that only had a measly four/five per episode, and they were nowhere near as confusing as this. The flashbacks feature two perspectives, the first focuses on Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) whom is arguably the man most hated by that bitch fate. In episode one the viewer discovers that Sean went on a cruise with his girlfriend Leila and planed to propose to her, but she disappeared along with any trace of her existence – but hey we’ve all been there right? Also Leila’s mother is brutally murdered by intruders in her place of residence and Leila’s sister is kidnapped – phew, keeping up yet?

Walker later attempts to hijack a plane that is to be used in an attempt on America’s President (Blair Underwood) by, unsurprisingly, Leila’s father. The President had recently discovered the existence of a secret Alaskan detention facility named Mount Inostranka – which is pretty hard to swallow as I naively didn't realize that the leader of a formerly powerful nation was on a need to know basis. President Martinez vows to close Inostranka (a black President closing down a detention facility sound familiar?) against the objections of his advisors who still refuse to explain why the place even exists. Naturally he decides to host a press conference with one of the prisoners to disclose the existence of the facility, which would make sense on opposite day, because Martinez doesn't even know why the prisoners were detained and doesn’t seem to realize how America openly acknowledging it has secret prisons that hold white English speakers captive would be a bad thing. Creating a possible motive behind the over-the-top assassination attempt. This is not convoluted enough for Wauters however so despite Walker’s failed attempts for control of the plane (or Steel Bird of Death as the would-be assassin should call it) the motherfucking aircraft is stopped when it flies into a hole in the space-time continuum, disappearing into the unknown.

After the attempt on Martinez’s life went the same way as Frederick Valentich he is told by the former prisoner Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes) that it was “they” who had saved him. And instead of simply telling the President who “they” actually are she decides to do the dramatic pause waiting for the ominous music to start up and respond “I haven’t told you everything” – of course you haven’t, it’s not like he is important, he is only the leader of America. Just episode one into the series and I'm already as confused as though I've dressed John and Edward Grimes in clown outfits and tried to decide upon which one is the bigger twat.

As is typical in conspiracy/mystery thriller serials the viewer will be expected to suspend their disbelief somewhat, although judging by the premise of this show it’ll probably have to be suspended in the style of modern primitive flesh hook suspension. Despite what conspiracists believe if there was a secret detention facility in America it would almost have defiantly been constructed under the directive of the President, or failing that he would defiantly know about it. The disillusion people have is understandable though, it is natural to feel our leaders are evil, especially when they try to create a free health care system (curse your benevolence Barack Obama). Also the idea a rogue commercial jet could get close enough to the Whitehouse to pose the mildest of threats is so utterly laughable that even Michael Moore would be hard pressed to create a believable conspiracy out of it.

If you’ve seen Lost or even been in the same town as someone watching it then you should know what to expect from the script, characters have only two modes of conversation – either overly cryptic like a crossword clue that has gained the power of human speech or dramatic to the point where you would be forgiven for thinking each word could be their last. According to Wauters he isn't going to adopt the Lost approach of dragging out mysteries and arcs for several seasons, he instead is planning on building a mythology over the course of the show but having individual mysteries such as the fate of the plane revealed in a matter of episodes. Whilst this is a good idea, no one wants to be left hanging like their disbelief, it probably means the show’s writers are going to be using an elaborate throwaway plot device every episode which is going to put the cluster into clusterfuck cornflakes. Somewhat annoyingly the characters refer to ‘the event’ as ‘the event’ in the same manner as your friends adopting a code to criticize you with when you’re in listening distance. And since these throwaway plot devices aren’t ‘the event’ it probably means the characters are going to refer to everything that happens in the show each week as “being somewhat eventful but still not the event.”

So only one episode in and already it’s as formulaic as the process of washing hair. Maybe it’ll improve as it goes along, but the juxtaposition of having a complex, hard to follow storyline and cheesy, clich├ęd setting makes the show hard to take seriously. In just one episode there has been a secret facility that overrides even the President’s authority, an attempt on his life and a portal to an alternate dimension where the show Lost actually answered some damned questions. Ok so maybe that last one can’t be counted as the archetypal formula but if it doesn't lead to some evil parallel universe or the discovery that aliens have secretly conquered and dominated humanity plot then I shall eat my top hat…which should be ‘quite eventful.’

(See the updates page for my comments on episode two)