The Event is an emotional, high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, “The Class”), an everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his would-be fiancée Leila (Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history.
Sean’s quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including newly elected U.S. President Elias Martinez (Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”); Sophia Maguire (Emmy Award nominee Laura Innes, “ER”), who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Leila’s shadowy father (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”). Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind. – NBC
The Preview (Posted on 9/15/2010):
Shawn: This is by far the most anticipated show of the new year and for good reason. It’s a spy/action/political thriller à la 24 shown from multiple perspectives with a Lost-type/FlashForward-type mystery to it. The cast is amazing and the effects look killer. This is one of those moral imperative shows. You must watch this. I’d comment more on it but the trailer confused the crap out of me and I still haven’t processed all of it.
9 out of 10
Shawn: First things first: my assumptions about The Event couldn’t have been more prophetic and it doesn’t mean that I’m that great of a judge of a show’s character, it just means that NBC marketed it perfectly. As noted above, I said it looked like Lost and 24 had a baby and considering an hour before it premiered, NBC was quoting Us Magazine (who had seen it) as saying the EXACT SAME THING, I’d say that’s precisely what NBC is going for and it wasn’t a plan that they just dreamt up over the summer. This has been in the works for almost year, now.
Fans of 24 may not know this, but the last season of 24 (last year’s season 8 ) was not necessarily going to be the end of 24 as of mid-season ’09 – ’10, and in fact, 24‘s ratings weren’t even particularly bad (9.31 million viewers but they were dropping and had been for some time). Despite the obvious repetitiveness of each season and the notion that the tank was clearly empty (the writers themselves admitted this), 24‘s main problem production-wise was that it was a very expensive show to produce every week and the ratings weren’t high enough for FOX to be able to ask for the advertising dollars they needed to produce it AND keep it profitable. Around the same time, NBC realized that they had made perhaps one of the biggest mistakes of all time in television programming history by completely eliminating their 10:00 p.m. drama slot, Monday through Friday (to save money), in favor of demoting Jay Leno (and, yes, it was a demotion) and putting him in there all week. If you don’t understand how colossal of a mistake this was, consider this: there was serious talk about NBC shutting down completely as a network.
So, in order to save itself from itself, NBC got some new people in and re-evaluated their situation and realized they needed a strong shot in the arm and actually inquired seriously about bringing 24 over to the Peacock Network. Well, then they got a look at the books and found out how much 24 was actually costing and of course 20th Century slapped a ridiculous price tag on it to boot, and NBC said, “Thanks, but no, thanks.”
So, although the idea of 24 never came to fruition on NBC, the concept of reviving the network with a bang was still alive and well and it’s pretty clear NBC REALLY wanted their own 24. They wanted their own 24 so bad that they hired the Executive Producer of 24, Evan Katz to a seven-figure, two-year deal to run The Event. Truly, though, it’s not just about having their own 24, it’s about having their own Genre show with the built-in audience from the day the pilot airs. Genre fans are the most dedicated of all television fans and NBC knew this most recently because they had a genre hit with Heroes until it started to suck (and don’t ask me when it started to suck because it’s all a blur to me. I stuck with it until the December break last year before I was bored to tears with it. Apparently it started to suck a long time before that.). So, this is why you see the comparisons to 24, Lost, FlashForward and Heroes and even though Katz claims that The Event is none of these shows, it really is certainly in the same vein because if it wasn’t, NBC would never have picked it up, nor would they have signed Katz immediately at the end of 24 for a ridiculous amount of money for 2 years.
Which brings up yet another good point about this series: the confidence NBC has in it. NBC had the opportunity to get 24 and with it one of the most popular characters in prime-time television history and an automatic large built-in audience carried over from eight previous seasons. Now yes, there were the cost issues involved with acquiring and producing the series and of course it’s far cheaper to not pay Kiefer Sutherland the $13.2 million per season that he was making on 24, but having the kind of gravitas that 24 brings to your network right out of the gate might even be worth risking the scratch on… that is of course, unless you’ve got a show in the chute that you really believe will take Genre audiences to a whole new level and that is precisely what The Event does.
The Event redefines Genre television for a new generation of fans. You undoubtedly see elements of 24, Lost, Fringe and FlashForward but the story is very unique, the mysteries are compelling and the style of the series with the repeated time-shifting (i.e., the show goes back and forth in time repeatedly and it’s not consistent), albeit a little difficult to keep up with at times, makes the drama that unfolds that much more intense.
The casting for The Event is very impressive. Jason Ritter (son of the late John Ritter) is a bit of a newcomer but he seems perfectly cast as the average guy trying to find answers. The rest of the cast is excellent as well with a lot of well-known television faces and character actors (Blair Underwood, Tony Todd, Laura Innes, Zeljko Ivanek, Clifton Collins Jr., Scott Patterson, Bill Smitrovich, to name a few. ) and no real superstars was very smart for a few reasons. First, you have seasoned pros on this show who ALL can act (and if I’ve never mentioned this before please understand that all of my favorite actors are character actors). Second, they come at a much cheaper price than, say, a Kiefer Sutherland would so think of it like a professional sports salary cap: you have the option of having one superstar and a team of mediocre players or a team full of really good players. The latter is the preferred and it’s a necessity with a new series. It’s also a necessity because unlike 24, The Event is… well… event-driven and not single-character driven like 24 was. A show like this requires a diverse ensemble cast as to not distract the audience from the complex and engaging drama that is unfolding.
All in all, The Event is excellent and has truly lived up to its hype so far and I don’t really have any doubt that with Evan Katz at the helm it’s going do anything but get better and better. This is the best new network show of the season and the only thing even on cable that’s better is Boardwalk Empire.
Watch full episodes of The Event, here and here.