The Future of 'The Event': Four Keys to Longevity
by Jo Garfein, posted Sep 27th 2010 3:30PM
Following in the impressive footsteps of 'Lost' and 'Fringe', starting a series on an airplane isn't necessarily the most original way to begin a new television journey.
However, 'The Event' (Mon. 9PM ET, NBC) proves to be an entirely different show and establishes itself as a unique viewing experience within the first three episodes. Ratings are obviously a major factor, but there are four other essential ingredients that will determine the fate and future of 'The Event.'
Linear timelines are no longer a prevailing method of storytelling, especially in primetime dramas. After the pilot of 'The Event' aired last week, some were quick to complain about the many jumps in time that took place during that first hour. But the flashes were necessary tools to establish key characters and introduce crucial plot points. While contemporary television viewers are an intelligent, discerning group, they have also proven to be collectively less patient.
The third episode of 'The Event' is the most satisfying, particularly because of the pace and intensity. The pieces of the puzzle in disarray from the pilot start to fall into logical places, and by the end of the episode you will be leaning forward precariously on the edge of your couch in anxious anticipation of what is unfolding.
A series based on non-stop action alone will not succeed in today's television landscape, and arguably in the current economy, because more than ever, the viewing audience desires a relationship with the main characters on a show. The desire to relate, on a variety of levels, to a group of fictional people has become a requirement for appointment television and DVR season pass status.
The true success of 'The Event' will be evident when fans start to discuss the characters as if they were actual people in their lives. If someone is talking about a specific character on Facebook or Twitter, an emotional connection has been established. Whether said character is referred to with absolute admiration or passionate vitriol, there is no doubt that the show has provoked and/or evoked a response from the general public.
Cast and Chemistry
Jason Ritter is an entirely engaging actor, star and action hero; he was perfectly cast to lead the impressive ensemble of 'The Event.' In the second episode, Ritter is at his best in scenes with Sarah Roemer (Leila), and by the third episode you will understand exactly what is motivating his character, Sean Walker.
Blair Underwood has an undeniably presidential air about him, and his supporting White House staff is just as convincing. Additionally, Underwood and Laura Innes share an interesting and palpable power dynamic, and 'The Event' has even greater potential for success if they continue to showcase the stronger lead characters together.
In future episodes, reliable and familiar faces like Clifton Collins Jr., Clea DuVall, Heather McComb and D.B. Sweeney appear on 'The Event.' In October, Emmy winner Hal Holbrook joins the series for a multiple episode arc. These are welcome additions and new characters that do not actually overwhelm the already sizable cast.
Vocal Fan Community
Fan fervor is imperative for the success of a show like 'The Event', but it can also be a double-edged sword following the recent conclusion of 'Lost'; the vocal masses clamor for the next 'Lost' but are eager to rip apart any series that vaguely features elements from their beloved show. After watching the first three episodes of 'The Event', the similarities to Lost are more homage than imitation.
'The Event' has already established itself as one of the only new fall series' that is appealing to online television conspiracy theorists, many of which were veraciously dedicated to 'Lost' and are already populating numerous forums dedicated to 'The Event'.
Today's viewing audience has a responsibility not just to watch, but also to discuss their favorite shows. Without fan feedback and a widespread online presence that reaches all the way up to the networks and creative teams responsible for our favorite shows, we would not be enjoying new seasons of 'Chuck', 'Fringe' and 'V'. To ensure future seasons of 'The Event', or even a complete first season, that same level of passion and communication may be required.
Sound off: How can 'The Event' keep viewers interested in the long-term?
[Follow Jo on Twitter @jopinionated]