So last night's pilot of The Event didn't quite go as well as one might hope. The ratings were meh, and reviews have been mixed. What would this show have to do to win its audience over?
First, let's talk about what last night's episode did right.
As I said yesterday, Laura Innes is simply terrific as Sophia, the mysterious leader (?) of Mount Inostranka, the arctic prison/alien project. Pretty much all her scenes were good, and I liked the establishing moments where we saw the expression on her face when her colleague mentioned that somebody might go public with information about "the event." You could tell she would stop at nothing, including murder, to keep her project secret.
As President Elias Martinez, Blair Underwood was great too. I liked watching the action unfold around him, as he learns more and more about Inostranka - and eventually, at the end of the episode, discovers that there are forces possibly beyond Earth involved.
I really loved the scene of the plane being swallowed up in midair. It wasn't what I was expecting, and it was weirdly understated. No lasers, no megaweapons - just POOF the plane is gone. And of course it's gone to some other dimension or an alien world or something, which I don't need to tell you is TOTALLY AWESOME.
Basically, the entire government coverup and secret facility possibly connected with aliens - all good. The solid foundations for a thriller with a dash of science fiction.
But then there were the bad parts.
I like to jump around in time as much as the next Doctor Who fan, but please - this episode had way too many arbitrary leaps backward and multiple overlapping timelines. One or two flashbacks is intriguing, but in many scenes we'd jumped back and sideways (and then forward again) so many times that it was hard to figure out what had already happened and what was about to happen and who the guys with the guns were.
But I could have lived with the time-jumpery if we'd just had a little less of the schmaltzy love story between Sean (Jason Ritter doing mustache acting) and Leila. First the guy asks Leila's dad for her hand in marriage, which started me groaning. Then he does this elaborate rescue of somebody in the middle of proposing. And then, when Leila is kidnapped, he suddenly becomes a super-ninja (who knows - maybe he IS a super-ninja, since we don't know what his job is yet). He figures out that bad guys are pressuring Leila's dad to drive his plane into the President's party, manages to get on the plane with a gun, and then tries to stop the plane crash in sweaty, nervous, "I know this looks bad but I'm trying to save you" style.
Plus I really hated Jason and Leila's relationship. It felt false and hokey. Based on previews, I'm guessing Leila isn't what she seems, which is potentially good news. If she turns out to be another super-ninja then I'm willing to forgive the lameness.
So here's the deal.
If the show focuses in on the government plot, and quickly turns Jason and Leila into super-ninjas who are deeply part of that government plot, then I'm down for the duration.
If the show gives us aliens that are cool, or an alternate dimension that is truly strange, I am a loyal fan.
And if the show figures out how to noodle around with time in a way that is coherent rather than random, that's just icing on the loyalty cake.
I'm tuning in next week to find out how it all pans out.