AVIAS Flight 514 is headed for the White House, but it disappears and lands in a mysterious desert land (Arizona). The passengers are found there, evenly spaced in the dirt, dead. Then, in the next few episodes, the victims wake up in a temporary morgue, and are recovering in a hospital before suddenly blood gushes from their orifices, causing them to run around like meth heads and scream, “WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” No one seems to know. Not the president, nor the CDC; certainly not viewers.
And get this: The plane-crash-victim storyline is just a subplot of NBC’s The Event. The “main” story line focuses on three characters: U.S. President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood, In Treatment), hacker Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) and alien-in-chief Sophia (Laura Innes, ER).
President Martinez wants to know how and why the plane disappeared. The government points at Sophia and her extraterrestrial “people,” who they‘ve been holding captive for 66 years since they were discovered with their crashed spaceship in Alaska. Martinez spends a lot of time interrogating Sophia, but it turns out she’s not calling the shots.
Walker, who survived the Flight 514 crash, is trying to find his girlfriend, who was snatched from a cruise ship. He’s also been framed for murder.
When I first heard The Event creators describe the series as “a conspiracy thriller, love story and mystery with an element of science fiction,” I wondered how integrating so many genres could work. Short answer: It doesn’t.
Here’s what I can’t get past: If this almost-human but technologically advanced alien race can develop an Ebola-like virus (and antidote) and make a plane vanish and relocate across the country within one second … why haven’t they been able to contact their home planet? E.T. did it with a Speak and Spell, an umbrella and a telephone.
Viewers aren’t buying it either. The pilot garnered 11.2 million viewers. New episodes are down to around 6 million.
Science fiction is supposed to be suspenseful and mind-bending, not annoying. There are aspects of The Event that work, like strong acting and interesting flashbacks, but it’s too much work to keep up with not nearly enough payoff.
The Event, NBC, Mondays, 9 pm
It’s tempting to compare all of Martin Scorcese’s mob stories to one another. Yet, somehow, Scorcese always creates fresh stories and characters while staying true to his voice. Boardwalk Empire takes place in the 1920s in Atlantic City, just after Prohibition begins. Guess what happens when you need to import illegal booze? Yep, lots of killing. And, with Steve Buscemi as the lead, plenty of charisma and wit. (HBO, Sundays, 9 pm)
Better With You
The best part of Better With You is its time slot, saddled between The Middle and Modern Family, but this romantic comedy is growing on me. It showcases three couples (all related) at various stages of their romantic relationships. It has the feel of Friends, with more focus on the parents. (ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30 pm)
Although there seems to be at least one new show per year about the NYPD, this one has Magnum, P.I. I never get tired of Tom Selleck’s eyebrow-raised-with-self-deprecating-half-smile combo. In Blue Bloods, he does it contemplating the challenges of being a badass police commissioner while staying fiercely loyal to his officers. Slow-moving, but strong. Not Selleck, the show. (CBS, Fridays, 10 pm)