The Event doesn't start in the US until tomorrow.... but TV Tonight already has the skinny on whether it lives up to expectations or not.
It was Hollywood producer Irwin Allen who perfected the disaster genre in the 1970s with movies like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. It was Lost that kicked it up a notch on the small screen, opening out the storytelling, ramping up the location work and giving audiences a mystery they either bought into or abandoned out of sheer frustration.
A number of shows have followed Lost, literally: Heroes, FlashForward and now The Event. Coincidentally, all four are Channel Seven acquisitions.
The Event is promising not to make the “mistake” of some and drag out its big turning points. And by the looks of the first episode they have pretty much struck the right balance of action, fun, character and even a WTF? moment.
The first episode revolves predominantly around Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), a likeable young man who is about to propose to his girlfriend during an ocean cruise.
But in a trick of fastforward and flashback we also see him caught up in a plane heist. Nine years to the month after 9/11, its impact is now inspiration for drama.
How Walker came to be in such a predicament helps drive the intriguing plot of the premiere episode.
We also meet President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) – another African-American President (thankyou 24)- and Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes), an enigmatic figure and leader of a mysterious prison group, and Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling (Željko Ivanek).
Innes looks like she will be this show’s answer to Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica), while having Ivanek is a casting coup. Look out for the 9/11 copycat moment involving the President while he is on tour in Florida.
Unlike others in the genre, this doesn’t feel like too many disparate characters ambitiously placed across a broad landscape. In fact there are chapters designed to focus on specific individuals, central to the action. With the sympathetic character of Walker, a nice guy swept up in a bigger masterplan, it makes the most of a good entry point into what will surely be a vast, conspiratorial, and occasionally scifi, story.
But high concept dramas like this also need to do more than just create sympathetic characters. They need a sequence (usually driven by special effects) that delivers a “wow” moment. Flashforward opened with that but left little else to back it up with. The Event jump-cuts from moments of jeopardy and high stakes to the personal, and even throws in moment that will leave you stumped -and wanting to tune back in.
Just what the “event” of the title is remains to be explained.
While it’s hard to imagine 6 seasons rolling out after the “event” is eventually disclosed, nobody embarks on a project of this scale without having mapped out big story arcs. You get the feeling even the revelations of the first episode are merely a jigsaw piece in a more convoluted labyrinth.
At first glance The Event doesn’t look like it will quite fill the gaping hole left by the complex, cinematic Lost, but it’s a great alternative to an abundance of procedural dramas on the small screen and it kicks off with just the right amount of fun.
Fasten your seatbelts. We’re in for a ride.
The Event airs 8:30pm Monday September 27th on Seven.