‘The Event’: Wait, how’d that go again?

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , , ,

The flashback structure of Lost had its problems, chief among them that sometimes there wouldn’t seem to be much point (coughKATEcough). But at its core, it was a clever way of illustrating some personality defect or long-simmering anxiety within the character.

The flashback structure on The Event has a different problem – it seems to mirror the storytelling capability of That Guy Who Can’t Quite Remember How A Joke Goes.

While watching the second episode, I was constantly reminded of the Dr. McNinja story (that comes after one that laid down a lot of groundwork that didn’t make much impression on its own), and is appropriately titled, “I Told You That Story So I Could Tell You This One.”

Show: OK, so yeah, so the guy piloting the suicide plane, Jason Ritter’s trying to stop him –
Audience: Wait, why’s that?
Show: OH! Oh right, uhhh [FLASHBACK: A WEEK AGO] It’s his girlfriend’s dad. 
Audience: OK. Go on.
Show: …And so Jason’s running and running through the desert, just hauling ass to get away from the helicopters –
Audience: Hold up, I thought he was an everyman. A guy like me. Now, I’m a guy like me, and I can’t outrun a goddamn helicopter.
Show: Right, yeah, uh…[FLASHBACK: SEVEN YEARS AGO!] He swims a lot, so he’s in shape. ANYWAY! So there’s these mysterious prisoners…
Audience: And they’re…they’re aliens, right?
Show: Look, I’m trying to tell a story here!
Audience: Right, but really our only options here are they’re aliens that look like humans, in which case this feels  a bit V-ish, or they’re like future-humans, which is a pretty serious bite off of The 4400. So…
Show: Ugh, FINE! Here. [FLASHBACK: A YEAR AGO!] “They’re aliens, Mr. President.”  OKAY? CAN I CONTINUE?
Audience: It’s your story ,dude.

This is why, as Braak pointed out on The Twitters, it feels like the show takes for-fucking-ever to get a move on.

And then it has to go and point out how labyrinthine its plot is, by having Jason Ritter explain the complicated conspiracy that kidnapped his girlfriend, framed him for murder (even though, to complicate their own plans further for no good reason, also made it look like he was never on that cruise in the first place) and put him on a teleporting plane with his blackmailed almost-father-in-law to a cop.

The cop’s response is the rational one to any massive governmental conspiracy: That’s a lot of secrecy and manpower just to frame you for a murder.

Um, show? I don’t think you want to point out the obvious ridiculousness quite so blatantly to the audience when you’re only two episodes in.

So yes, final verdict on the show: It’s slow, it’s badly told, and the only mystery I am interested in is how exactly does Jason Ritter keep that stubble goatee? Is there a continuity editor just pulling out her hair every time it looks like it’s grown out a little?

Hopefully they give me a pace-halting flashback to explain that time in freshman year of college he tried it out and someone told him he looked distinguished with it. That’s an important part of the story!

  1. I have to say, I am not a fan of the flashback as a way to tell me about a character. It’s just far to simple and on the nose and annoyingly divergent from the main reason I’m watching the show: the current predicament/storyline. It can be used well: Firefly’s ‘Out of Gas,’ but it can also be horrible far more easily. One flashback method that always seems to work even when it sucks is when you have the character see it from an objective view point, able to comment and interact within the flashback. That at least can tell you something new. Otherwise, please tell the story at hand and explore someone’s backstory in subtle movements or massive sinkholes of rage and despair.

  2. braak says:

    Yeah; I mean, ostensibly, if the flashback is important, then why wasn’t it part of the story to begin with? Why didn’t you just expand the scope of the story to include it?

  3. Basically, yes. Though, thinking about it, filling every episode with flashbacks is a pretty good way to make a three year thirteen episode season storyline expand into a six year epic. And that is the biggest obstacle to good writing in american television: the 22 episode season.

  4. braak says:

    Is it a good way to make a thirteen episode season into a six year epic? Or is it an easy way?

  5. braak says:

    Also, wait a minute. The same government that captured all of these aliens and has been holding them in a secret facility for 66 years (which is…since 1944, right?), why don’t the just send a sniper or something to shoot that guy?

  6. Because Ritter is the alien hybrid experiment which the government is toying with in a God like manner in order to see just what he/she/it is capable of. How’s that for a TWIST!

  7. braak says:


  8. Oh! I remembered the TV show wherein I loved the flashbacks, though technically they weren’t necessarily flashbacks, just one story at two (or three) different times. Defying Gravity. I really enjoyed it.

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