To Channel 4, The Event is clearly as big a deal as its haughty name suggests. After weeks of careful marketing to cultivate intrigue, last night’s double dose of the hyped American import hit the channel’s schedule on the same day as they launched their all-new, souped-up idents and ad buffers.
Five years ago, Channel 4 also made considerable fuss over another American show. That show was the now-iconic Lost. From the opening few minutes of The Event, it is clear Channel 4’s meticulous marketing is not the only similarity between the two programmes.
The comparisons with Lost are frequent and blatant: There is the handsome hero type in the same mould as Jack Shepard. There is a passenger-filled aeroplane in danger of crashing. The plot convulses through much flashing back and forth (though no sideways thus far). And, as the mysteries of The Event’s take on the world unfold, you constantly beg the ultimate question: “What the flip is going on!?”
Of course the key dramatic technique in each of these shows is to drip-feed just the right about information to keep the viewer hooked. It is however necessary to ensure these drips are not so slow that the audience loses interest in the frustration of it all.
Lost – though it consistently fell in the ratings as its six series progressed – was able to get this balance fairly spot on. How? Because as well as it’s twist-filled story, it had characters you grew to care a lot about, and genuinely funny moments scattered throughout each episode.
While The Event is clearly ‘event-full’, the characters lack warmth, a humour vacuum is firmly in place, and it looks unlikely that the writers have any intention to change any of this.
Its high-octane, sci-fi story will probably appeal to a certain core following (and if you’re not too sure who that may be, last night’s ads for “Fallout: New Vegas” and “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” surely epitomise the demographic), but The Event will need to do much more justify its existence.