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From the Couch: “The Event”

Originally published in the October 8, 2010 issue

Going into autumn, it is always interesting to witness the primal shroud of judgment descend over the fresh television line-ups. It is this judgment that will separate the cinematic gold from the flops that Leno and Letterman will use as late-night banter.

In regards to NBC’s freshly minted “The Event,” a future as comedic fodder may not be as easily achieved as it would seem.

With only three episodes under its belt, the show may have managed to untangle the noose that was hanging around its neck after episode 1 left viewers a bit confused and mildly nauseous. The initial scenario is a good one, using a vague title to keep the picky viewers in need of constant stimulation interested.

Something is coming, something is happening, but the viewer is left in the dark as to what.

After the first episode, which involves that obnoxious TV technique where there are flash forwards and backwards and sideways (hence the nausea), viewers are left with pieces of a puzzle they can’t quite assemble. This is an especially annoying tactic when the audience has a long list of new characters being forced upon them.

Sean (Jason Ritter) and Leila (Sarah Roemer), an annoyingly happy young couple with forced on-screen chemistry, seem to be living a perfect pre-marital scenario until their dreams are dashed when Sean finds himself in the middle of an inconvenient conspiracy. Once the action picks up, Sean is not an awful character, although his big blue eyes and my love for his deceased dad, John Ritter, may make me a bit biased.

The president of the United States (Blair Underwood) also makes an appearance as he tries to figure out the circumstances of the situation along with the audience. The creeper of the show, also known as the director of national intelligence (Zeljko Ivanek), has unclear motives, but judging by his demeanor and sidelong glances at the president, it can’t be in favor of anything ethical.

This show’s appeal is definitely due to the mystery and, given our current situation, probably a little bit of existing distrust for our federal government. That said, I think the mystery can only last for so long and once the audience figures out what the “event” is, we will have pretty much had our fill of edge-of-your-seat paranoid schizophrenic scenarios.

In my opinion, this might have fared better as a movie or possibly a mini-series. In that case, I might be a little less inclined to throw this one to the late-night wolves. But as is, it is a fairly pulse-throbbing entertainment sequence, some assembly required.

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