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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Event will be one to watch

    NBC has a new show this year that wants to become event television: The Event, which premiered last night. I don't really know what's going on, of course. This isn't the type of show where viewers are meant to, at least not at first. But peppered with a slew of likable and talented actors, and with some intriguing plot already laid out, The Event is certainly better than last year's similar offering, Flash Forward.

     As near as I can tell, there will be five main players in this series. President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Dirty Sexy Money, L.A. Law) found out about some event and secret group at an Alaskan hideaway about a year and a half before the series began. Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes, ER) has been locked away there, but has now arrived in Washington to announce something with the president. Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, Parenthood, Joan of Arcadia) is the everyman hero, whose girlfriend, Leila (played by Sarah Roemer), has been kidnapped by unknown people for unknown reasons. Michael Buchanan (Scott Patterson, Gilmore Girls) is Sean's girlfriend's father, and is clearly being blackmailed into doing bad things. And I'm not sure exactly who Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale, Day Break, Surface) is, but he's important enough to get close to the president, and smart enough to know that Michael is up to, and to try to stop him. Or maybe he was tracking Sean. That's unclear.

     If you haven't watched last night's premiere yet, stop reading here until you do.

     All five of these people have very interconnected stories, with Simon being the bridge between the two duos listed above. I don't particularly care about Simon, but the I already do about Martinez, Sean, and Michael. Martinez is shown to be a very principled president in the scenes before the action starts, in the vein of other great television presidents such as David Palmer and Jed Bartlet. The pilot was smart enough to give us plenty of Sean's background, and what his relationship with Michael is. There's a bond there appropriate for a soon-to-be-related couple of men, and it's touching. The fact that the woman they both love, in different ways of course, is in danger excuses their extreme behavior.

     The question is, why are Sean and Michael acting like they do in the framing story? My only complaint is that this should have been a two hour premiere. So much of the first hour had to take us back a week, or a year and a half, to set up the characters, that the framing story with all of the big stuff was not given time to be fleshed out. I presume we'll find out how Michael and Sean got to be on that airplane next week.

     The series is also clearly going to go into impossible territory. The plane disappearing into some energy-infused hole in the middle of the air seemed more appropriate for Fringe than The Event, which tells me that this isn't a cookie cutter series, and I might be interested in watching it. I assume Sophia will soon get the chance to explain to Martinez (and the viewer) what's happening.

     The other thing going for The Event is the supporting cast, which boasts such small screen heavyweights as Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes, Damages, True Blood, Big Love, 24, Oz) and Bill Smitrovich (The Practice, Life Goes On, Without a Trace). While neither did much more than stand around in this week's episode, I'm sure they will get to more than flex their acting muscles as the season unfolds.

     Only time will tell is this is the next Lost or a fizzling dud. But the signs in the premiere look promising. The Event airs Mondays nights at 9pm on NBC. 

Article first published as TV Review: The Event will be one to watch on Blogcritics.

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