‘The Event’ fails to replace void left by ‘Lost’

Sarah Choudhary

The much hyped NBC drama, “The Event,” premiered this week to mixed reactions. Non-stop advertising this summer was aimed at inciting the level of fan frenzy that “Lost” addicts had displayed for six years.

NBC hoped viewers would tune in asking, “What is the ‘Event?'” Though viewers did not get an answer to this question, they did get an interesting look at the latest high-concept sci-fi conspiracy drama on TV.

If the worst episodes of “Lost” and “24” had a child, it could have been this pilot episode of “The Event.” This show has the same sense of looming danger that “24” perfected and some of the bizarre, quasi-supernatural weirdness of “Lost.”

However, if “The Event” is meant to fill the void left by “Lost,” so far it has failed. 

The pilot episode centered on Sean Walker (played by Jason Ritter), the likable everyman who gets caught up in a grand scale conspiracy-cover-up situation. The audience is supposed to root for Sean, who simply wants to propose to his girlfriend, Leila (Sarah Roehmer), on a luxury cruise trip, but discovers Leila has been kidnapped, and there is no record of him or his girlfriend ever checking on board the ship. We see the room Sean and Leila occupied just hours ago now redecorated and occupied by a middle-aged couple, as the cruise officials ardently maintain they have no record of Sean ever boarding the ship.

While this Hitchcockian turn of events could have provided some suspenseful moments, the makers of “The Event” chose not to reveal them to the audience just yet, because the next time we see Sean, he has somehow made his way onto a plane and is waving a gun, begging his girlfriend’s father not to fly the plane into the president of the United States’ son’s birthday party.There is also a secret government facility in the snowy wastelands deep in Alaska, filled with enigmatic prisoners, who may not even being human.

Yes, so far “The Event” is defying logical reasoning. But while reaching for “Lost” level weirdness, “The Event” forgets to develop the main characters. 

The show is filled with clichéd archetypes: the incorruptible president (Blair Underwood); the innocent damsel in distress, Leila; the seemingly sinister presidential aide ( Zeljko Ivanek); and the mysterious leader of the prisoners, Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes).

“Lost” and “24” succeeded for so long because both shows managed to captivate audiences with suspenseful, exhilarating action while simultaneously making you root for your favorite character’s survival.

So far, “The Event” has failed to create believable characters and has not mastered the pacing necessary to engage a mass audience with a remarkably low attention span.

“The Event”pilot utilized flashbacks to an almost irritating degree and failed to use them with enough subtlety not to jar viewers.

It also lacked genuinely surprising plot twists. The only real shock of this series premiere came in the last few minutes.

If “The Event” does turn out to be about aliens, it may face some competition when ABC’s rather poorly performing “V” returns later this season.

Audiences did not seem to like the alien conspiracy plot of “V” last year, so it will be interesting to see how “The Event” tries to reignite curiosity in extraterrestrials, if indeed the mysterious prisoners are not from this planet.

Networks have been trying to capture the type of dedicated and passionate fans who followed “Lost” faithfully for six long, confusing seasons. Last year saw the premiere of ABC’s “FlashForward,” another action-packed sci-fi drama based on a tough-to-swallow premise.

Though it started out strong, it petered out mid-season and was ultimately canceled after just 22 episodes.Whether or not “The Event” follows the same path as “FlashForward,” it still seems that no replacement for “Lost” has arrived.