All summer, the buzz around "The Event" was that it would be the new show that "Lost" fans would gravitate to, with a touch of "24" to it. That sounds great in theory, but in practice a lot of shows in the past couple years have tried to capture that formula and failed (anyone see "The Nine" lately? How's "FlashForward" doing?).
After one episode, I'm not ready to give "The Event" an F, but it gets at best an "incomplete" with another week or two to win me over.
Last night's episode was confusing, and not just in the traditional "Lost" way (and for the record, I was rarely confused by the storytelling techniques on "Lost"). The action jumped from present day to various flashback points -- some of which overlapped between characters -- as we got background into what seemed like an endless cast. I know ensemble pieces can be successful, and I happen to enjoy quite a few of them, but it's hard to connect to characters when you're seeing them in some dramatic moment, then suddenly thrown into backstory, then thrust back into the drama. Watching the episode felt like being on a poorly-constructed roller-coaster for 60 minutes.
Aside from the strange structure, the episode wasn't entirely bad. The cruise ship scene -- in which Sean (Jason Ritter) returns to find his girlfriend vanished, his room occupied by total strangers and all record of him being on the ship erased -- felt like something out of a classic horror movie, and had me legitimately engrossed in the episode for a few minutes. There was also a storyline involving Blair Underwood's President Martinez and Laura Innes's Sophie, the leader of a group of 97 detainees (who it was strongly hinted at are not all they seem to be) that could either be amazing (think the early seasons of "The 4400") or horrendous (I can't think of an example right now, but that's mostly because I've tried to block them from my mind).
As for the ending, with the hijacked plane flying into some kind of vortex (see the picture above) above the birthday party for the president's son, well, the special effect looked awful, but otherwise it added a level of intrigue to this show's developing story.
There was a lot going on in this first episode of "The Event", possibly too much for one hour. Hopefully next week will bring a more traditional storytelling format to the show and start to get into some of the things that were hinted at this week. If not, we can probably just "FlashForward" to the series finale in May.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.