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The Dumbest F**king Show of the Fall

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 21, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 21, 2010 |

Network executives have to be the daftest goddamn people on the planet. Listen to me, NBC fuckwits. You can’t recreate “Lost” or “24.” And there’s no reason in the world to recreate “Flash Forward.” There’s even less reason to combine the three into one idiotic premise and then publicize the donkey boners out of it. You couldn’t turn on a TV, dial up the Internet, or piss in a public restroom over the last few weeks without seeing promos for “The Event.” Half the show’s potential demographic already hated the “The Event” before it even aired. And, if you insist on selling that much fucking hype, you’d better live up to it.

A goddamn wormhole is not going to to do.

If you want to create a successful serial drama for network television, here’s some advice: Start small. Establish and then build your characters. Give us something simple, but intelligent, and build on that. Don’t work it the other way around. “Lost” began with a plane crash. The pilot episode focused on a small number of characters given a very simple task: Deal with the aftermath of a plane crash. Before the pilot episode had finished, we were sold on several of those characters. We came back, not because of the mysterious monster in the jungle, but because the characters were compelling. Because we wanted to see what would happen to them. And to build successful characters, you need great character actors: People with expressive faces. Actors with flaws. Characters with flaws. Something with which we can connect. You don’t have to fully flesh out every character in the pilot episode, but you have to give us something to hang our interests upon. It’s not the events; it’s the characters involved in the events that we care about. And for the fucking love of Christ, create a little foundation, a little logic, something with which we can justify buying into your idiocy before you throw us into a fucking wormhole.

Indeed, if the pilot episode of “Lost” had begun with, say, the explosion of the hatch, no one would’ve tuned in to the second episode. That’s essentially what “The Event” has done: It asks us to make an illogical leap of faith without giving us any reason to do so, without grounding its conceit in the real world. Worse still, it didn’t give us a single goddamn character with whom we could sympathize, relate, or care for. You want to force a goddamn wormhole on us? Save it for the season finale, after you’ve established your characters.

“The Event” doesn’t start small. It creates so many disparate subplots that, in order to make it work, it has to dumb everything down and then give us the illusion of intelligence by using a lot of asinine time shifting (which also gives it an excuse to flash numbers on the screen, hoping to recall “24” in our minds). Jason Ritter’s Sean Walker is the central character in the show; he’s a guy about to be engaged to Leila (Sarah Roemer), but he never gets to pop the question because he has to save a woman who nearly drowns in the ocean. The next morning, his girlfriend is hungover, so Sean goes scuba diving with the woman he rescued. When he returns, his girlfriend has disappeared, and there’s no record of Sean having ever stayed in the hotel. Meanwhile, Sean’s father-in-law to be, Michael (“Gilmore Girls’” Scott Patterson, sans backwards baseball cap), is hanging out at home watching television when some people break into his house, kidnap his youngest daughter, and begin shooting up the place. The next thing we know, Michael is suiciding piloting a plane toward the President (Blair Underwood) out in his vacation house, while Sean is on board attempting to talk Michael out of kamikaze-ing the airplane. Meanwhile, the President (Blair Underwood) — before the plane starts hurtling toward him — is meeting with important members of his staff to discuss releasing prisoners from a Guantanamo Bay style prison out in Alaska. Sophia Maguire (“E.R.’s Laura Innes) plays a creepy advisor who knows more than she is letting on, by which I mean: She’s there to mete out cryptic bullshit throughout the course of the series, while the phenomenal Zeljko Ivanek gets to play the sinister Chief of Staff with an apparent agenda. That’s what Zeljko Ivanek does, after all.

Oh, and “The Event” in question? Before the plane that Michael is piloting into the President crashes, it is swallowed up in a wormhole and disappears. Yep. That’s “The Event.”

That’s the entirety of the pilot episode, chronologically straightened out and minus the scores of dull, head-pounding cliches and the frequent yelling, as well as the bland Asian character trying to chase down the plane before it takes off. There’s nothing to see here, folks. It’s clear that they’ve given us their best in the pilot episode, and they’ve failed to establish any compelling characters or a small-scale story we can invest ourselves in. You can throw any number of cataclysmic events at us, but until you create a Don Draper, a Walter White, a Jack Shepard, or even a Jack Bauer with whom we can experience those events, you’ve got no show. “The Event” is no show — it’s filler loud, explosive filler material that tries to convince you its interesting by stealing something from a sci-fi novel and insisting that it is. It’s not.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.