The Event Week 2: Why Should I Care?

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My favorite comment on The Event so far:

“Nope, that really sucked.” 60 MINUTES EARLIER: “Hey, maybe The Event won’t suck.”

It’s funny because it’s true in two different ways. Last night’s second helping of NBC’s “Oh We Wish This Were The New Lost” series did some things right (Namely, answering some questions quickly), and then lots of other things… maybe not wrong, but definitely in a way that made whatever hope I’d had from the start of the episode disappear by the end of the episode. It also crystallized just why I’m not really getting into this new series.

Here’s the thing, you see: I don’t think the show’s producers have any idea where the show is going. The reveals that we saw last night – The doctor from er is actually an alien! And so’s that secret agent guy that we already knew was the same as the doctor from er after last week! And the plane is in Arizona because of the aliens! And, uh, okay, that might be it – seemed so random, in terms of when they were revealed (Was there any dramatic weight to revealing any of them at that point? It felt more as if they were answers given to us to show that the show wants to give answers, if that makes sense, than actually adding anything to the storytelling) that it made me feel as if I was watching something where the writers were more in love with the concept of surprising me than they were with actually telling a story that might, at times, surprise me.

I have no problem with shows (or comics, or series of books or movies or any longform storytelling) that start out not really knowing where they’re going; both Lost and Battlestar Galactica are examples of such that nonetheless managed to turn out thought-provoking and engaging stories almost as much because of their digressions and discoveries along the way as in spite of them, to name just two. But all too often, starting with a vague idea – even if it’s a good one! – and hoping for the best while throwing shock after shock after shock to keep the audience on its toes ends up with… well, FlashForward. Or Heroes. And that’s what last night’s show ended up feeling like, to me: an episode of Heroes. There were grand stakes and mysterious forces, but for all the short term excitement of the surprise, the episode felt meaningless and empty. I don’t care about anyone involved in this story yet, because the writers seem more interested in keeping me guessing than letting me know any of them.

More On Techland:

The Event: Haven’t We Seen This Before?

Q&A: The Event’s Jason Ritter