Is The Event Trying Too Hard to Be Like Lost?

My wife and I watched the series premiere of NBC's much-hyped new show, The Event.  Even though it had its flaws, we will be tuning in again to see where the story goes.  People are comparing it to Lost and 24.  There is a President facing some sort of crisis, but that is about where the comparison to 24 ends.  The similarities to Lost are much more evident, and I think it hurts more than helps the show.

The Event has plenty of positive points -- the cinematography was good (we particularly loved the scenes set in St. Lucia, mainly because that was the site of our own honeymoon), the cast was impressive (I did not have a problem, as some apparently do, with Jason Ritter in the lead -- he reminds me very much of his dad, the late great John Ritter, and has inherited some his best qualities), and much of the action and suspense was nicely done and full of surprises.

But the obvious attempt to "be the next Lost" might be the show's undoing.  The nonlinear storytelling, repeatedly hopping back and forth in time, was overdone.  Not only was it laughable, it was also confusing and, in my opinion, unnecessary.  The flashbacks and flashforwards worked in Lost, but in The Event they were too heavyhanded with it.  The plot could have been told in a traditional A to B to C storyline and it would have been stronger for it. 

Having an airplane as the setting for a key plotpoint in the pilot also was a reminder of the first episode of Lost.  As I was watching, I was half-joking about the similar elements between the two shows, wondering if we would see some polar bears or smoke monsters -- at one point, when we learned about mysterious captives being held by the government, I kidded that they were probably aliens, but then dismissed the thought because the show seemed more grounded in reality.  But then the airplane vanished into thin air, thrusting the show firmly into the realm of fantasy and sci-fi.

Even though I love speculative fiction, I hate when writers just throw supernatural crap at us without explanation.  The science fiction elements of Lost were somewhat explained, but even that hit show drew plenty of backlash for its failure to fully reveal the explanation for the magical curse of the numbers, the powers of Walt, and so on.  The Event will annoy viewers more than entertain them if it tosses speculative fiction ideas willy-nilly without rhyme or reason in a misguided attempt to add twists, when in fact they are just using weak sci-fi staples to hide their lack of story structure, characterization, and real plot development.

Other shows tried to capitalization on Lost's popular success but failed -- FlashForward, Day Break, Life on Mars (the American version), The Nine, Invasion, Surface, Threshold, etc, etc, etc.  Will The Event earn the loyalty of a strong fanbase of its own or will it fizzle as others did before it?  One thing is certain, it should build on original premises and its own strengths rather than following in the hard-to-replicate footsteps of Lost.

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