Of all the big Monday premieres, I ended up saving only The Event for Tuesday, and well, I think you know why. I’m not sure there’s any series that I have went into with more baggage in recent memory, and though I’m sure those frustrations colors my opinion of “I Haven’t Told You Everything,” it’s time I take the blinders off for this kind of series and hopefully I can look at the series a little more critically.
In short, The Event takes some of the worst elements of the series it’s trying to grab fans from (Lost, 24, FlashForward), combines them with all the worst parts of the early post-Lost serials (The Nine, Surface, Invasion, Day Break, etc.) to create one giant, vague, stupid c***-tease that not only doesn’t tell us everything, it tells us absolutely nothing. I don’t want to absolutely say this is the worst post-Lost series yet (if only because I can’t remember exact details of things like Threshold or something), but my lord is it laughably bad.
And it’s not to the fault of the performers (Jason Ritter and Blair Underwood are fine), or the director (FNL vet Jeffrey Reiner makes things look pretty), but solely rests with the series’ desire to stuff the dialogue with pronouns and indirect questions and play ominous music over scenes that seem fairly normal out of context, but are supposed to make us feel on edge. Secondly, the episode uses all the classic elements in an attempt to draw in the mythology-loving fanboy: There’s the unknowing president, the scheming Zeljko Ivanek-ian character, thankfully played by Zeljko Ivanek! There’s an obvious organization or group that’s able to wipe people from cruise ship dockets! And of course, a sci-fi-leaning ending! Moreover, the pilot’s ridiculously obnoxious reliance on the in media res storytelling that jumps around in time repeatedly in attempt to build suspense is wholly ineffective. Anyone with a brain can interpret why what’s happening at the near-end of this episode’s story with relative ease and the fact that there’s really only two threads here makes the added complication seem completely obvious. This combination of rapid time shifting (which covers up for any logical questions because you’re simply trying to find out/laughing at why we’re going back in time again), clichéd, baiting elements and awful dialogue creates one of the falsest senses of drama I can remember from a series like this. It’s all totally manipulative in ways that even FlashForward wasn’t.
Sticking with the FlashForward comparisons, The Event makes the characterization on ABC’s failed 2009 drama look Mad Men-esque. Though FlashForward screwed the pooch by never really developing the somewhat interesting people found in the pilot, we at least knew who they were and what there motivations were by the end of that first episode. Moreover, although it never really followed through with it either, FlashForward introduced themes like free will and destiny in its pilot. The Event has neither any real characters, let alone people, nor any real thematic concerns but making the audience feel like anything CRAZY COULD HAPPEN AT ANY TIME. If you’re a new series like this and your pilot pales in comparison to the only okay FlashForward pilot, you’re in a lot of trouble.
However, the pilot was a ratings success (no doubt aided by NBC’s obnoxious ad campaign) and I’m wondering if the series seeming desire to avoid making its characters feel remotely real or create a logical story is actually a benefit. Despite my praises for its pilot, an argument can be made that the reason FlashForward failed so miserably is because it spent too much time on its horribly executed characters, and thus made many of the episodes feel boring, self-indulgent and totally lacking levity. I hate to generalize, but the fans NBC is trying to get with this series might not really care about the characters. NBC wants the people who really wanted to know about the DHARMA food drops on Lost, not the people who cared about the relationship between Jack and Sawyer. And if those people aren’t too burned by the supposedly adulthood-raping Lost finale, The Event could be exactly what they’re looking for. If that’s the case, this series, and those people, more or less deserve each other.