Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your mild ED is not The Event

Posted By on Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 12:08 AM

Well, whaddaya know? Even with The Big Bang Theory moving to Thursdays, it looks like I’m going to be staying home on Monday nights after all. And for better reasons than, you know, not having any genuine social options to speak of anyway.

The Event -- Currently, this show’s main function in society is to answer the question, “Are all those jilted Losties ready to love again? And on paper, The Event could easily follow the path of this past summer’s Flight 815 afterthought Persons Unknown: big introductory splash on Mondays, lousy ratings, humbled move to Saturday, pissed-of affiliates refusing to carry the climactic chapters in favor of inconsequential sporting events.

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But The Event is faster-moving, potentially smarter and less densely populated by summer-stock refugees who obviously don’t believe a word they’re forced to spew. In fact, the thing is pretty engaging so far, having something to do with a thwarted terrorist strike on the President of the United States (Blair Underwood) that’s in some way related to the closing of a Gitmo-style detention facility.

I’m hoping the show isn’t planning to take the daredevil plunge into District 9 territory the pilot’s closing moments hinted at; for the non, the series it reminds me of the most is neither Lost nor Persons, but NBC’s Boomtown of about a decade ago. While The Event’s underpinnings are clearly more speculative, it’s got Boomtown’s structure down to a T, being built on Rashomon-cum-Tarantino vignettes that reexamine the same narrative developments from a variety of characters’ perspectives.  (It’s even less linear, however, jumping around temporally with increasingly ludicrous frequency as title cards  announce the action as taking place “Eight days later,” “Eighteen months earlier” and “While you were going for that cookie from the kitchen.”)

I really loved Boomtown for its entire first season, which nobody watched. But when Vanessa Williams was added to the cast for the second go-’round, the entire thing suddenly started to stink on ice. It was as if Donnie Wahlberg and the rest of the ensemble had been directed to act down to Williams’ level so her patently lousy work wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb. If Rosie Perez joins The Event by Episode 9, we’ll all know to start setting our DVRs for Saturday (unless the affils can find some arena football to showcase instead).

Hawaii Five-O -- Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are practically running a rehab facility for played-out ’60s franchises these days. Just as they did with 2009’s big-screen Star Trek, they’ve shot up Five-O with all manner of exaggerated action, smartass banter and lost-daddy issues. So far, it’s nicely over-the-top work from folks who fondly remember when “because it’s TV” was a legitimate excuse to pull every storytelling stunt that audiences love and Oscar voters hate.

Even more so than The Event, the show really moves, and the money that’s being spent on it is obvious in almost every frame. (The first five minutes boasted as much pyro and stunt choreography as were seen at Jerry Bruckheimer’s bris.) Meanwhile, the love-hate interplay between stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan is so overflowing with testosterone that I suspect the program will end up with more women than men in its viewership. Guys listen to this stuff, chuckle in mild embarrassment and wonder aloud, “Do we really sound like that?” Meanwhile, their wives and GFs sit on the couch, smile indulgently and think, “Worse.” And look forward to an entire season’s worth of further vindication.

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