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The Time:
Mondays, 9:00 PM, NBC

The Show:

When Sean Walker’s girlfriend, Leila, goes missing during a Caribbean cruise, his dogged efforts to find her take him across the biggest government conspiracy in American history.  It’s a cover up of such immense proportions that not even President Elias Martinez initially knows of its existence.  And its revelation could jeopardize the very fabric of America.

The Stars:

•  Jason Ritter – Sean Walker
•  Blair Underwood – President Elias Martinez
•  Laura Innes – Sophia Maguire
•  Zeljko Ivanek – Blake Sterling
•  Sarah Roemer – Leila Buchanan
•  Scott Patterson – Michael Buchanan
•  Clifton Collins Jr. – Thomas
•  Ian Anthony Dale – Simon Lee
•  Bill Smitrovich – Vice-President Raymond Jarvis
•  Taylor Cole – Vicky Wallace
•  Lisa Vidal – Christina Martinez
•  Wes Ramsey – Greg Kervin
•  Sayeed Shahidi – David Martinez
•  Gonzalo Menendez – Dan Taylor

The Episode: “Pilot”

Told from a variety of flashbacks and points of view, the pilot establishes the story of a massive government conspiracy to cover up an unknown truth concerning a group of people secured in a Guantanamo-like facility in Alaska.  A young man, Sean Walker, finds himself nervously boarding an Arias Airlines flight that is about to take off, as he anxiously notices authorities that seem to be trying to stop it.  We see via back story that he was on a cruise with his girlfriend, Leila, who disappears without a trace and no one seems to remember that she was ever on board the ship.  Meanwhile, President Elias Martinez is planning to reveal the story of the people in the Alaska facility, against the strong objections of his administration staff. 

An operative of unknown origin, Simon Lee, is attempting to stop the Arias plane from taking off.  He also is seen speaking with Sophia Maguire, who appears to be the leader of the detainees.  Once airborne, Walker grabs a gun he had stashed and attempts to enter the cockpit, before being apprehended by an air marshal.  Things aren’t what they appear to be, though, as the pilot takes the plane off course toward what looks to be a terrorist attack on the president.  However, the plane has a rendezvous of a very unusual kind.

The Lowdown:

The first thing that is going to grab any viewer of The Event is the flashbacks, which, unlike the much ballyhooed Lost, whose shoes this show could be looking to fill, are presented far less smoothly.  At times, the narrative flies at you like the reverse episode of Seinfeld in a pinball machine.  One minute you’re a few days ago, then the next you’re several months ago.  You’re in Alaska, you’re in Miami, you’re in a living room, you’re snorkeling, you’re on a plane.  The fact that the show is also told from multiple POVs, doesn’t help.  If that’s to be the style of the show, hopefully they’ll rein it in a bit.

Be that as it may, that’s not to say that the story doesn’t incur some interest.  The “Event”, whatever it is, is developing on several levels from the get-go, on both a grand and personal scale.  However, considering the recent graveyard of these mythology genre shows, including last year’s Flash Forward, which started pretty well but petered out toward the end of its one-season run, The Event is going to have to make with some pretty substantial answers in order to maintain interest.  Because the patience of fans of these type of shows evaporated somewhere around a romance in a polar bear cage or the stirring yarn of a tattoo.

Cast overall is sturdy, with Jason Ritter providing an affecting performance as Walker.  He brings across the outrage over the disappearance of Leila and also the angst at what he’s about to do on the plane without it getting overdone.  Blair Underwood has an easy smoothness to his performance, although some dialogue with staffers concerning the release of the detainees borders on the cliche.  Zeljko Ivanek is his usual cool self.  Hope for a good amount of sleaze from his Sterling.  Laura Innes also brings the goods. 

What the Event is is anyone’s guess, and the only big reveal about it is the fate of the plane.  But that does tell us that this isn’t some straight up thriller, but has some sort of fantastic element to it.  Although it’s doubtful, it’s a safe bet that if it’s aliens, meta-humans, alternate reality or time travel, The Event is seriously going to have to go out of the box to hold its audience.  Pace of the show was good, although the effects were sometimes dodgy.  It wasn’t great, but was good enough to at least merit another few installments.

6.9 out of 10