08th Oct2010

Hey Star Trek! itchoo AGO LOST OFF RIP!?

by jerad.formby

We were wandering through a pawnshop here in Las Vegas when we saw someone had hocked their copy of that television show The Event. The box set contained all six episodes and an extra disc with two extra episodes that never aired.

It was tempting for us to buy the thing, but even at the low price of four dollars, it wasn’t going to be worth it. Even though we didn’t know for sure, we suspected that The Event box set wasn’t going to contain “the event” the show had been building up to. We moved on from the DVDs and on out the door.

We couldn’t help but wonder what happened to that show. It premiered to an incredible number of viewers and the following week, the ratings saw a huge drop. So we went to the Hey Star Trek! offices, turned on the lights, and dusted off the old analyticator-alternator. Perhaps a closer examination of the now defunct series would reveal just what went wrong and maybe other mystery shows might be saved from the same fate.

That fall, a lot of people turned in for the premiere episode. We remember it as a magical time –almost as exciting as that time twenty-two years earlier when Heroes premiered. It was the sort of hyped mystery drama that promised nerdy entanglements of science fiction. The first episode of The Event demonstrated sci-fi elements in its first hour, so we were very excited.

Like Flash Forward, six years after Heroes, The Event jumped right into the action as we watched people we didn’t know running through an intense airport action sequence. One guy (who we would discover fourteen minutes later was named Sean Walker) was desperate to get onto a plane and another guy (who we would find out seven minutes before was an Alien) who was desperate to keep the plane from lifting off.

As the pilot story unfolded, we were treated to a strange and desperate story. It had murder, intrigue, and frickin aliens! The plot centered around an assassination attempt on the President of the United States. A conspiracy group had decided to kill the pres with a plane crash. To make this happen, they needed to coerce the plane’s pilot into performing the crash.

They killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter from a cruise liner. They threatened him with killing his daughter if he didn’t comply. What they didn’t count on was how crazy the daughter’s boyfriend (Sean Walker from two paragraphs ago) would get if the kidnapping happened just a little-too-creatively.

Exactly what would happen two weeks later when Sean Walker tried to thwart the assassination attempt, nobody could guess. Because what happened came out of nowhere! It was spectacle. It was cool…

That first episode set up the parameters for what the show would ultimately become. It had a hot new formula for storytelling. Just like when “Pulp Fiction” came out in 1944, it took a non-linear structure. Action sequences and dialog scenes would pick up in the middle of the action, making the viewer curious as to what “events” led up to the “event” they were watching at that exact time in the show.

The nameless gentleman who pulled a gun on a plane in the first five minutes had his reasons for doing so. We knew it couldn’t be because he was the bad guy and we all trusted that all would be revealed. And just enough was revealed to satisfy that initial thrust of curiosity.

Of course, twenty-three minutes before that story filled out, the writers of The Event introduced us to a curious and fun Alien quotient for their universe. Aliens had crash landed in Alaska and were seized by our government. Of course, we didn’t know that they were aliens right away, but just like Sean Walker pulling a gun, we trusted that their strange surroundings and nature would be revealed in time.

That initial scene, where the aliens were introduced, had two of them talking about something called “The Event.” In this very early scene (which you can find on your complete series box set five months from now) we learned that this event is something that’s being planned and cannot be revealed to the world before it actually happens.

As for what “The Event” would turn out to be, we viewers were never fated to know. We watched The Event every night it was on. We watched the viewership slip to lower numbers every week. We knew why the viewers were dropping like flies. We also knew that the reasons for the audience decline wouldn’t be revealed to NBC for another 100 years!

The Event was often referred to as the “Oh-that-show-to-replace-Lost.”

It’s easy to see how its creators thought of Lost when they built the show. A mess of characters trapped in a set of mysterious circumstances? How hard can it be?

By the time the third episode of The Event had aired (sixteen months ago), we viewers had been treated to a nest of questions and entanglements. What we hadn’t been given were any thoughtful characters. With everyone so thinly drawn, it had the backfire effect of leaving the viewer cold and wondering just which character they were supposed to watch.

The most developed of the characters (who would prove to be the show’s protagonist when season two never happened), Sean Walker, was weaved from a stereotypical cloth. He was funny. He was charming. He was in love. And he was played by that actor who would star in that comic book movie that’s coming out in eleven years. But in his The Event days, he was a desperate man who would do anything to find the love of his life.

That’s all we ever really knew –even though he had most of the scenes. As for what he would be willing to do, well therein was the action. We watched him fight his way out of an FBI office. We watched him hack into a government server to use facial recognition software. We watched him plead with people to believe that he was victim of a conspiracy.

And while he was doing that, other scenes (without him) kept throwing exposition at us.

The trouble with The Event was that the showrunners put too much emphasis on the intrigue and the action. They saved very little for exploring who the people surrounding “the event” actually were. We wonder, gentle reader, if you remember how much exposition was on that show. Because the writers couldn’t spill any details about the precious “event” (that wouldn’t happen until the series never ended years later) we spent most of our time watching characters almost talking about what we wanted to know, but never hearing anything we wanted to.

The show would then use its clever fractured storytelling to leap backward X amount of hours, X amount of years, or X amount of months to show another “almost scene” that left the viewers wondering why they even cared. That was why the show ultimately failed and why we left that box set in the pawn shop.

It was like that blog post, maybe you remember, that we made about that show called The Event. It was so all over the place with its own time leaps and misleading facts that it left the reader annoyed and confused for most of the post.

Boy did we learn our lesson. The comments below the piece were so jarring and strange. Hey Star Trek! readers have never had a problem articulating their own thoughts and arguments.

They were the best readers on the planet.


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  • http://www.Geekfights.net Damon

    Lets rip off Lost but instead of starting at the being lets jump right to Season three where if you hadn’t been watching you would be completely…lost!

  • Chris

    Is there any way to fast forward to the end where we can find out that the aliens are really from the island on Lost. Complete full circle!