Waiting until January is not The Event

Yes, Asa, you were correct and I admit it.

It can fairly be said that, now I have seen the first ten episodes, I do regret not having started watching The Event sooner. In a television world now without 24, Heroes, and Lost, The Event has successfully filled the gaping hole left in the hearts of sci-fi fans…and without trying so hard that it comes up an obvious second.

What sets The Event apart from its predecessors is the presentation. It requires undivided attention from the viewer, but it does not demand that attention. The show almost tricks the audience into believing it is boring, until it pulls some ridiculously creepy stunt out of nowhere. Except not actually out of nowhere, because everything that happens fits into the narrative…somewhere.

The first few episodes, I felt like I needed to make myself a timeline to figure out exactly what was happening when and what the actual chronological order of events was. Now that the story has become more or less linear, the confusion is considerably less. And so is the excitement. The first three episodes were characterized by melodrama in the same class of, say, Lost or 24. Lots of fights, lots of booms, a little narrative progress, but mostly content to grab the audience’s attention. It took a few more episodes before something happened to keep that attention.

Visually, The Event matches the tone of the narrative. The cinematography is a bit reminiscent of the semi-voyeuristic, close-up ridden camera work of 24. But there are a lot more sweeping, cinematic sequences, and the overall colorscheme is actually rather light and airy. There’s little harshness to be found.

The thing about The Event is that it is so…calm. Even though all of these epic things are happening, the story twists and turns are allowed to stand alone without being punctuated by ridiculous, overbearing, dramatic sound effects a la JJ Abrams shows or constantly, melodramatically shouted swears a la Jack Bauer. People get shot, people die, bombs are set off, yes. But the greatest off-putting comes from quiet, creepy moments like little girls with old lady faces.

And maybe that is this show’s greatest trick. It doesn’t feel the need to force itself on you every single moment, but it does provide just enough reminders to keep you watching because you never know when the next crazy thing is going to happen.

The storytelling method – technique and pacing – are impressive. But The Event also has its disappointments. I’ve yet to get really attached to any of the characters. They’re all so-so at best. The president (Blair Underwood) wavers between being irritatingly moral and disturbingly short tempered. The two central action stars, Sean (Jason Ritter) and Simon (Ian Anthony Dale), are interesting to watch but not particularly connectable, despite efforts to make them so. Oddly, I find myself most drawn to Leila (Sarah Roemer), but I couldn’t tell you why. The two characters who disappoint me the most are Sterling and Sophia; the first because I expect so much from Zeljko Ivanek and am not getting it; the second because the character is half Laura Roslin, half Kathryn Janeway, but Laura Innes is not even a quarter so fascinating or chasimatic as those two.

I can’t say that The Event has moved me or captured me in any monumental way. It’s not…exciting enough. (That isn’t quite the word I want, but I can’t think of the one I’m looking for.) But all the elements needed to make a great sci-fi show are more or less in play. I definitely have hopes that this series will grow and develop given time. Hopefully that time will be given.

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