Twilight Vs. Roswell: Are aliens more romantic than vampires? - VIDEO
by Mike Moody, posted Dec 2nd 2008 10:02AM
Even before I caught Twilight on the big screen, I was comparing it to Roswell, the great teen sci-fi/romance series that aired on The WB (and later
It's not exactly the most original story in the world. This sort of thing goes back to Bram Stoker's Dracula, (and probably further back than that). Still, after watching Twilight, I was a bit shocked by its similarities to Roswell, especially since Roswell wasn't half as popular as Twilight. I haven't read the Twilight or Roswell book series, so I can't tell you if the similarities persist in print (but my friend Stephanie can). I can only compare the big screen and TV versions.
From major plot points to character motivations, these two franchises have a lot in common, but one clearly stands above the other. Let's compare, and you'll see what I mean:
Roswell - In the pilot, we're introduced to Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby), a bright Roswell teen who writes everything down in her diary. In the first scene, she's saved from certain death by Max Evans (Jason Behr), her quiet biology lab partner who just happens to be an alien. Max's secret and life are threatened when he publicly uses his powers to heal Liz from a gunshot wound.
Twilight - In the opening scene, we're introduced to Bella (Kristen Stewart) a lonely teen who just moved to the dreary town of Forks, Washington. Bella is soon saved by her quiet (wouldn't you know it) biology lab partner Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a vampire masquerading as a normal teen. Using his supernatural strength to save Bella from being hit by a car puts Edward's secret and his life in jeopardy.
Roswell - Max and Liz form an alien-powered bond when he heals her. They exchange emotions and memories instantly and fall deeply in love. Unfortunately, Max's alien roots and a revolving door of big bads get in the way of their happily ever after.
Twilight - Um, Edward likes the way Bella smells. That's about it. Her aroma is so intoxicating that he feels the need to gawk at her from a distance day and night. (Is this love or just animal magnetism?) Bella seems to dig that Edward isn't a nice, polite, normal teen who can go out in the daylight like all the other boys. Her sweet stank attracts a sociopathic vamp who tries to kill her and Edward, which briefly gets in the way of their romance.
Roswell - Liz Parker's voice is the first thing you hear in the Roswell pilot and in most of the following eps. Her diary entries narrate the bulk of the series and give each ep a warm, intimate feeling, partly thanks to Appleby's sincere voice.
Twilight - The movie opens with a voiceover from Bella, and the voiceovers continue throughout the film. They don't offer much in the way of warmth or intimacy. Instead, they feel mopey and stock, but that might have something to do with Stewart's unimpassioned line readings.
The Lead Characters/Actors:
Roswell - Appleby is endlessly appealing as the sharp, warm and capable Liz. She might be a sensitive teen, but she's rarely mopey, even when circumstances keep her apart from her first love. Jason Behr's subtle turn is perfect for Max, a character who's pulled from the sidelines to become a benevolent leader and protector.
Twilight - Bella is written as a bright girl who's experiencing the thrill of first love. Stewart plays her as an angsty, pretentious, and unlikeable emo kid. Pattinson fares better as the valiant Edward, but it's clear that he comes from the John Lovitz school of ACTING!
Twilight and Roswell both feature supporting characters with supernatural gifts who feel threatened by the main characters' relationships. In Twilight, these characters come off as one-note, but Roswell's supporting characters were, of course, allowed to develop over three seasons. Also, both franchises portray Native Americans as somewhat mystical people. In Roswell, they have a spiritual link to the aliens. In Twilight, they're territorial onlookers who might be werewolves.
So -- at the risk of having my likeness burned in effigy by a mob of angry teens -- I must admit that Roswell is the better franchise. Maybe it's an age thing (I haven't been a teen for ten years), but after re-watching the Roswell pilot, I found it to be warmer and smarter, better plotted and acted, and more compelling than the movie version of Twilight. It's also way more romantic. I think Twilighters should give it a shot (especially since you can stream it for free online). It's got all of Twilight's basic elements, but it's a lot less pretentious. Plus, there's more of it (three seasons worth)! Sure, Twilight might seem edgier and more glamorous, but all the hair product and Paramore tracks can't hide the fact that it's one of the most unromantic "romantic" movies out there.
Stream the Roswell pilot below and judge for yourself.