'The Event' Won't Be as Confusing as 'Lost,' Producers Say - TCA Report
by Joel Keller, posted Jul 30th 2010 5:05PM
After the triumphant ending of 'Lost' and the ignominious flame-out of 'Heroes,' you'd think that audiences would no longer be in the mood to buy into a complicated, serialized drama that -- most of the time -- ends up asking more questions than providing answers.
That seemed to be the mood in the room at 'The Event' panel at TCA as the producers of the new NBC series were peppered with questions from critics about the complicated nature of the pilot. It's an intricate story, with flashbacks that explain a particular scene in the present, lots of characters to keep track of, and finally the "Holy crap" moment at the end that's the actual event of the title.
The presentation of the story will be more linear going forward, however, exploring the relationships between the characters starting from Episode 2. "We're very cognizant of rewarding audience's patience," said executive producer Evan Katz. "We want to keep them hooked but asking other questions (at the same time). We're keeping mysteries open, but we're solving them. In the second episode, we'll clearly answer the two biggest questions in the pilot."
"We're trying to reveal as many answers as we can as we go and set up new mysteries," creator Nick Wauters said. "We'll have more immediate answers to your questions. You have to kind of go in on faith that we know what we're doing."
But how will people trust them purely based on the action-packed pilot?
Katz, who was a producer on yet another heavily serialized drama, '24,' thinks that people will want to stay with these characters as they go along for the ride. "There's definitely a style of storytelling, a pace of storytelling, that's going to be present in the show. This show will not be as dark (as '24'). I like starting with Jason (Ritter)'s character. a normal man, an innocent. They'll be on that roller coaster and (the audience will have) that visceral response."
Ritter plays Sean Walker, a normal guy who goes on vacation with his girlfriend and she goes missing. While he searches for her, Walker stumbles on a huge conspiracy that affects the highest levels of government. Ritter loved the roller-coaster ride his character went on: "The interesting days are when the mood shifts from one to another. The way Jeff (Reiner) directs is so immediate and there's not a lot of time to think in between. There were a couple of times I got a little lightheaded from hyperventilating."
-- Executive producer Steve Stark mentioned that, as an example of the more linear nature of subsequent episodes, Episode 4 will explore the relationship between Sean and his soon-to-be-missing girlfriend Leila, played by Sarah Roemer.
-- To help make sure their reactions are as authentic as possible, the producers and writers keep the actors in the dark about their characters' story lines. "We each got these character dossiers that explain to us who we are," Ritter said. "So we all know as much as our characters know; now as the episodes come out we learn more about who they are."
-- On scheduling the show, Katz said that NBC is scheduling it "as straight through as possible." He doesn't think the show will take a long, 'FlashForward'-style hiatus.
-- The beautiful Laura Innes, who plays Sophia, the mysterious leader of a mysterious group imprisoned by the government in Alaska, disagreed with questions that implied that we don't know much about the characters from the pilot. "When I saw the pilot, I felt in a very economical way (that) the characters were compelling to me. All that made the characters very moving to me, then they were put in jeopardy. it worked." She called Sophia "completely fierce and moral ... she's just a great gal."
-- Wauters' main goal in creating the series was to "write a show that kept people hungry but didn't frustrate people." Based on the pilot, I'm not sure that'll happen. But at least the "holy crap" moment at the end will keep me watching.