Rumors abound that NBC’s The Event will not be back for another season. However, I don’t hear a thousand voices crying out at its loss.
Often when it’s time to report on the potential loss of a genre television show, especially if it’s sci-fi, it’s also time to report on the small but radically dedicated group of fans holding rallies, or signing petitions, or blowing up message boards, or shipping legumes to people, but this time, I just don’t see it.
Where are the fanatical fans of The Event? Is there no love for this series? Perhaps there are none, and perhaps it is not without good reason.
I’m a sci-fi geek myself, you won’t find many who argue harder for an increased presence of genre narratives on television. At an instinctual, lizard-brain level, I want to fight for The Event, but at a more practical level, I have to admit that it’s not one of the better shows on television right now. If we lived in a world which had plenty of genre television to choose from, I probably wouldn’t watch it.
The biggest issue is that its main premise is flawed. Sure, sure, it’s fiction, so it doesn’t have to be real, I get that, but it’s not even believable, which is important to any narrative. An underground plot like this needs to things to make the setting believable: a method for keeping the fantastic element underground, and a reason for doing so. The Event has the method: all the aliens are either in prison or hiding among us, as us.
But where is the reason? Why is the government hiding the aliens’ existence from the general population? Why were they ever put under wraps in the first place? Because it would cause a panic if the public knew about them?
Yes, that might work for a goofy buddy movie like Men in Black, but not for a story that’s trying to be a serious sci-fi drama. The real reason the aliens have been hidden is that the story wouldn’t work had they not been. That’s it. The writers couldn’t come up with anything better than that.
Beyond that, the aliens themselves are nonsense. They look like us, they can breed with us; the only difference between them and us is that they age more slowly. An alien race like that is preposterous. Of course, the writers have been very careful to ensure that none of them refer to themselves as being aliens, and that we’ve never actually seen a space ship, nor made any reference to space travel.
So what trickery are the writers planning to spring on us, expecting us to be surprised? Maybe they come from the future or perhaps they are from an alternate timeline. Those possibilities might make more sense than human-aliens, but they are still preposterous in their own ways.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly to the small segment of non genre-lovers they planned to take up with this show, is that very few of the characters are compelling at all.
Many of them had the chance to become more, but the show has failed to see them realized. The geek hero I mentioned in a previous article has only gotten worse. In the latest episode, I found myself wishing he would just stop whining about how terrible things are for him, and now that there is apparently some strange kind of mysticism or magic in his story with rocks and lay-lines or something, I don’t know. I don’t see how his story ties into the larger picture yet, and after ten episodes that shouldn’t still be a mystery.
Our other protagonist, President MoralDilemma, is even worse. He starts out as a nice-guy, almost a pushover, and then over-night he becomes this anger and hate filled anti-hero. That’s not dynamic character development, that’s just bad writing. I’m reminded of the changes in Jonathan Archer that killed Enterprise. No one is compelled by an overly angry authority figure as a protagonist. It’s just a devise to explain away his dumb behavior.
ll this, and other issues, come together to make The Event more of a soft, dramatic fantasy than a true speculative fiction narrative. I don’t think I’ll miss it when it’s gone.