Times TV critic Mary McNamara reviews one of the more highly anticipated and mysterious new shows of the season. “The Event” happens Monday night, and according to McNamara, you should be there.
Welcome back to the big leagues, NBC.
With Monday night’s premiere of “The Event,” the network that as recently as last year seemed hopelessly mired in creative and financial chaos has finally located a tent pole, a new show as big, brash and promising as “Heroes” was a few years back.
Though flashing the post- 9/11 mythology of “24” along with the fractured time frames of “Damages,” “The Event” unfurls a much larger canvas on which a disparate cast of characters, from Jason Ritter’s engaging young Everyman, Sean Walker, to Blair Underwood’s recently elected President Martinez, are caught up in a net of mysterious and lethal situations all leading to, or possibly from, the event in question.
Opening as news footage of a presidential press conference is interrupted by rumbling mayhem, the first episode works its tension-building way backward and forward, often showing the nexus of one scene repeatedly before following a different character’s subsequent actions. So we meet Sean (Ritter), pale and panicked, on board a flight that a man in a black SUV seriously wants to keep from taking off. Flash back further and we see Sean preparing to go on a Caribbean cruise with his girlfriend, Leila ( Sarah Roemer), who is leaving her young daughter with her parents. Sean plans to ask Leila to marry him on the trip, and though he receives the blessing of Leila’s father ( Scott Patterson, late of “Gilmore Girls”), suffice to say that things do not go as planned.
Meanwhile, at a secret, snowy military installation, the guy from the black SUV (Simon Lee, played by Ian Anthony Dale) is deep in conversation with Sophia (“ER’s” Laura Innes), trying to convince her that the election of a new president means that “they” should at least be warned of “the event,” but Sophia’s not buying it — no matter how cooperative the new president might seem, his advisors won’t even let him find out about “this place.”
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— Mary McNamara
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