After NBC cancelled Heroes, Fox’s 24 sendoff and ABC’s castaways from Lost finally off the air, NBC felt they were poised to become the next leader in serial dramas with their newest prime time offering, The Event.
NBC tried to get The Event in front of as many eyes as possible, by launching a massive campaign to promote the show which included a large discussion panel as well as an advanced screening of the pilot episode at this year’s Comic Con. Every show on NBC this summer from The Tonight Show to America’s Got Talent felt like it was overrun with ads promoting The Event.
But despite the amount of advertising leading up to The Event’s series premiere, the show only managed to draw a modest 11 million viewers. According to TVByTheNumbers.com, that was enough to place it third for the night behind ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (21.8 million) and CBS’ Two and a Half Men (14.5 million).
Short answer: The Event isn’t that exciting or interesting.
Here are the four reasons why we think The Event can’t hold onto viewers each week.
*CAUTION * – WHAT FOLLOWS BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS! –
1. The Jumping Time Line – A Confusing Narrative
Writer Nick Wauters was trying to do something different when he incorporated multiple timeline jumps into his storyline, but he ended up confusing people instead. Using a narrative that jumps from present day to minutes, days or even months in the past is OK if the story stays at each jump point for sufficient amounts of time. However, The Event‘s timeline jumps only last a few minutes each and since each character has multiple overlapping timeline jumps, it only helps to increase viewers’ befuddlement.
If you get up to for a drink, answer the phone or use the restroom, there’s a good chance you will be completely lost when you return to the television and will have to rely on the explanations of your friend or spouse to catch up. By the way – those friends and/or spouses are probably just as lost as you are and they were watching the whole time.
2. The Story – Where is the focus?
The story for The Event can be described in three words – uninspired, convoluted and boring.
*LAST WARNING* – THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW -
Here is a quick recap: Sean Walker’s girlfriend Leila Buchanan has been kidnapped by Vicky Wallace (a hot girl with a dark past) who is working for an unknown group of “terrorists.” Leila is being used as an incentive to make her father, Michael, pilot a passenger jet into President Elias Martinez’s compound. Supposedly they want to assassinate him before he can tell the American people about “the event.” Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Blake Sterling has been keeping a compound at Inostranka, Alaska, secret from the President. After discovering the compound the President decides to release the prisoners America has been holding there for almost 60 years because *dum-dum-dum* they are aliens.
- END OF MAJOR SPOILERS –
Usually a major plot twist or shocking reveal like this wouldn’t be revealed until late in the season, or possibly even the final episode, but NBC decided to reveal this major story twist in the SECOND EPISODE! Some NBC executive is probably heaping kudos on themselves right now thinking they did something new and innovative but all they’ve done is give viewers a reason to turn the channel.
By revealing such a huge part of the story so quickly, The Event has essentially taken the intrigue and mystery away from the audience. Leaving a twist like this for the end of the season or even the end of the fall run could have generated a lot more interest in the show as people try to guess who these prisoners are, how they got here and what they are doing here (granted, many of today’s savvy viewers were calling “aliens” from the start, but still…). Instead, viewers can now only speculate on what these people are up to and whether Walker will ever find his girlfriend. These plots points are only mildly interesting and nowhere near as exciting as the info we’ve already been given.
3. Good Actors – Mediocre Acting – Underdeveloped Characters
Except for Jason Ritter (Sean Walker), every actor on The Event feels like they are getting little to no direction on how to play their characters. Most of the blame falls squarely on Nick Wauters’ shoulders because as the writer, he has given none of the characters any depth or background. Every person on the show feels like a cookie cutout of a character from another show – just not as good.
There’s ethically unwavering minority President, the mysterious female leader to a group of alien visitors, the innocent guy thrown helplessly into a bad situation, a second-in-command with questionable methods/motives, and a mole (or moles) buried deep within the U.S. government. Sound familiar? It should because every one of those characters can be found in 24, Lost, Heores or V.
Because no less than six different characters share the focus of each episode, viewers aren’t given time to get properly acquainted with each of them. If an audience isn’t allowed to quickly develop an attachment to any characters in a show, the show will always fail.
4. Victim of the Hype
When a network entices viewers with countless ads or builds up expectations with mysterious and puzzling phrases like “What is The Event?” or “This is not The Event,” that network had better deliver a better than excellent product. In this case, NBC billed The Event to be the second coming of serial mystery/dramas, only to leave viewers of the pilot scratching their heads thinking, “Um, was that ‘the event’ we kept hearing about? I’m confused.”
NBC would have been better off with a modest advertising scheme that let viewers build their own wonder and excitement regarding The Event because ultimately The Event suffered from not living up to its own hype.
NBC only has 8 episodes of The Event finished and none ordered yet for the spring line up. If ratings continue to decline at the rate of roughly 18% per week there could be less than 3 million people watching the show by episode 8. If that happens, the only thing fans of The Event will see on NBC Monday nights at 9 pm is a different show.
NOTE: We contacted NBC to find out their thoughts on the trending decline of The Event’s ratings and if an entire first season would be ordered but they did not respond.
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Source: TV By The Numbers