Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Be My Guest: Fall TV Premiere Week-Planes, Explosions and Terrorists, Oh My!!

A special guest post by Joseph Flemming.

From global conspiracies, undercover power couples and precocious 10 year old girls, the fall 2010 TV season premiere week kicked off with an dizzying array of shows.
Part 1 of 3

Panic. Screams pierce through the air like twisted Steel being ripped asunder. News channels broadcast frantic pleas for help even as the video signal blinks in and out; as you continue watching the chaos the familiar sound of a plane's strained turbine engine begins to rumble...The video feed cuts out as you hear a voice yell "O my God! Run drop the camera!"

This is the first  27 seconds of the new NBC show "The Event" and it does a good job of setting the pace for the remaining forty two or so minutes that follows. There is a lot of information thrown at the viewer from beginning to end. In fact by the time the credits roll, you'll be surprised by the people, locations, and plot lines you'll readily recall; maybe even ask yourself -how do I remember all of this?

The answer to that question is, while the amount of content is dense, the editing cinematography and pacing is terse. This is a show that is on a mission and will not waste a single solitary frame, or moment of dialogue.. not even in the quietest of scenes. Be warned for every scene involving expository dialogue and characterization, there is a payoff around the corner. So if you have to go to the bathroom or get the door for the pizza guy,do yourself a favor &  hit the pause button on the DVR.

What is "The Event"?

For viewers who have watched shows like Lost and dare I say- Flashforward, recognizing "The Event" fits into the genre of "hard to define action/drama/suspense/thriller" would be an easy deduction.

For those who are uninitiated to this style of programing. (hey some people grew up solely on reality TV)  The new serialized shows takes a weekly digestible story and mixes in mystery, action, suspense and an overarching storyline that spans the entire season and series.

From ordinary to extraordinary
The Event-follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), a man who, while investigating the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend, Leila, begins to discover a huge conspiracy that even The President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) was not privy to. Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling (Željko Ivanek) knows far more about this mysterious plot and has been overseeing a secret research facility in the Alaskan mountains. This complex houses 97 individuals being detained & experimented on (shades of Gitmo)

When President Martinez discovers the  existence of the Mount Inostranka complex, he meets with the detainees leader Sophia Maguire, (Laura Innes) ; He then decides to call a press conference, where presumably he would tell the American people all that had transpired  in that frigid complex and who these people are. Unfortunately moments before his press conference, an assassination attempt is made using a hijacked aircraft.

So, if your still reading this you've probably noticed that I still haven't covered anything about the actual "Event" at all..well I can't because the show hasn't provided that answer yet...
...and that's OK as long as the writers keep the script tight, reward the viewers with logical answers during major revelatory plot points, and keep the action moving.

Is It good?
Of course a show like this lives and dies by the quality of the performance the actors bring to the table... In the face of a narrative that shifts perspective, location and even jumps back & forth through time telling it's tale (flashbacks); it's a  good thing they hold their own.

Blair Underwood is appropriately presidential, at times asking the right questions; adequately balancing taking the advice of his cabinet and making quick decisive bold decisions (Mr. Obama please take notes)

Željko Ivanek portrayal of Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling, puts the "spook" back into the CIA. His play at secretive, smarmy, evil power broker is more insidious than overt. With every shift of his eye you know that he has all the makings of a megalomaniac just waiting for an executive order to allow him all sorts of control.

Yeah, he's creepy.
Željko Ivanek

Jason Ritter's Sean Walker gives a solid performance as the confused boyfriend who's love is earnest, and is thrust into a chain of events that is larger than he can imagine, he grounds the mystery with an human element standing in as a proxy for the viewer who is equally confused and guessing the myriad sets of plot twist.

Final thoughts
Premiere episodes for dramas can be tough, there is the dearth of characterization, plot points and Key figures you have to introduce but executive producers Evan Katz, Steve Stark and  Jeffrey Reiner keeps all of the chaos controlled. Even better  Executive producer Evan Katz has promised some of the questions raised in the pilot episode will be resolved as early as the second episode.(trust me some are, no joke!) If they can keep up this pace the show has a shot at becoming the next lost, or at least the first couple seasons of Heroes.

Just one last thing, remember earlier when I said that an airplane was hijacked and was being used to assassinate the President? well in the final seconds of the show that plane is on a collision course with the presidents summer compound. Secret service frantically running to get the president into his motorcade, the plane towers just several hundred feet above the rooftops bearing down full speed. The ground rumbles and a wind of extreme magnitude stirs around the would be impact site.. and then... the plane...

Find out next episode.

Rating: B+
The Event-NBC Monday 9:00pm EST.

check out the medial gallery for photos from "The Event" Click here

  • Željko Ivanek - Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling
  • Blair Underwood-President Elias Martinez
  • Laura Innes- Sophia Maguire
  • Jason Ritter as Sean Walker


Don said...

Good post, Joseph. It actually reads like a suspense novel. Besides news and sports, I haven't watched much television in years it seems, so I hate to admit that I felt lost hearing of the new programming. Good to see that the networks have move away from reality TV shows.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Yes, Joe needs to get back to his own blogging.

I have to admit, his post actually made me want to watch the show, lol!

Don said...

Second blog that I have read today which spoke on this show and Blair Underwood. Actually, it's the third if I am not mistaken. I just wish someone programming station would bring back The Wire.


Alisha De Freitas said...

I need to actually watch "The Wire" since my husband has every season on DVD just sitting there.

Have you watched the creator's new show on HBO about New Orleans?

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