Anatomy of How a New Show Loses My Interest

Alright TV networks, this post is doing you a favor. I know how hard you work trying to craft the next hit series, and I’m here to let you know what NOT to do when trying to emulate good shows of old.

The Event was supposed to be a hybrid of 24 and Lost, and though the pilot was actually very well done, after that, things went downhill quickly, and I’m trying to do a post-mortem of my interest level so networks can learn from their mistakes. Like they ever do.

If a show is going to base itself around a big central mystery, it has to be extremely well written and acted in order to hold my interest for that long. For what I’m talking about, go rewatch the first four episodes of Lost again, which got me hooked on the show, desperate to want to know more.

I think it also helps to get into a show like this midstream. As in, I watched all of season one of Lost in a row, on DVD, so if I wanted an answer, I would just pop in the next episode which would take me a step further in. By the time I caught up to season two on live TV, I was ready to stick around week to week to learn more. I guess this isn’t advice per se, but it is my own personal experience.

I don’t like you and I don’t know why.

But that’s not the case with The Event, as each episode fades from my mind, and by the time a new one rolls around, I’m no longer as compelled as I was immediately following the episode the previous week. Perhaps if I had the entire season at my disposal, I might tune in for season two. This is why I usually just wait to hear if a show’s good, and then catch up in big chunks, and eventually watch it live. It’s too risky to get into a new show that in this day and age of TV, is probably not going to pan out, as interesting as it was initially.

Other than plot, cast is an equally if not more important piece of the puzzle. We need good, relatable characters we can root for, and evil characters we can root against. I understand we’re still unraveling the mysteries of the show, but The Event really only has two characters we can care about, Sean Walker and his girlfriend Leila. But the show tries too hard to makes us like them, with flashbacks to their early days of dating to humanize them, but these scenes serve no greater purpose like similar scenes did in Lost, and just feel like filler in already short forty minute episodes.

Adorable, but completely pointless

The rest of the cast? It’s just a blur of faces we don’t know much about. Whereas 24’s David Palmer was a strong leader we could look up to, President Elias Martinez here is as lost about everything as we are, and it’s almost painful to watch the leader of the free world go from “Yay, aliens! Let’s be friends!” to “Boo, aliens, we can’t trust you!” In the span of five minutes. Did he really not think that through?

And then we have the aliens, or whatever they are. The show specifically dances around calling them aliens, even though they came here on a crashed ship. I suspect there’s some greater truth about them, where they’ve time traveled here or something equally “shocking,” but when you don’t reveal really anything about them, they’re more an obstacle to the story than the genesis of it.

You don’t need a giant ensemble of characters like Lost or Heroes to make your show work, but you should have a few well developed folk in the cast or if not that, than one incredibly strong lead like say, Jack Bauer. If you’re just populating your show with cardboard cutouts, you can’t help that it’s not going to be entertaining.

“But we’re pretty!”

I will credit The Event for not dipping into FlashForward territory, where it’s hard to believe no one realized the entire premise of the show was one big plot hole waiting to happen. No such chasm exists here, but the show thinks just because it ends on a cliffhanger every week, that makes it interesting. And it’s easy to look at other show’s formats which jump around timelines and think that’s a good idea, but when every other scene ranges from “40 minutes ago” to “40 years ago” it gets a bit jarring.

The fact is, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why The Event fails, but with some rewrites and casting additions and subtractions, I believe it could turn things around. Will it? I doubt it, but you have my advice.