A few weeks ago I mentioned the new US show The Event. This Friday it starts on Channel 4 with two episodes back to back from 9. But is it still worth checking out? Having now seen the first 5 episodes I will say Yes!
Of course The Event is a network show and therefore a different beast to the HBO shows I've recommended, like The Wire, True Blood and Treme. HBO shows are filmed in complete, short (usually 10 or 12 episodes) series and aired in their entirety while the networks are filming while it airs; usually about 6 weeks ahead. This tends to mean network shows are easier to pick apart and can change as the series progresses, depending on the response. And as network shows are always fighting not to get cancelled (especially in their infancy) they need to do more to keep the viewer watching and therefore tend to have something big happen every week. When done right, in the likes of Lost and early series of 24, this makes great entertainment as long as you don't think too much about it. When done wrong it makes for some shoddy TV. For example, later series of 24 seemed like they were written in 4 episode blocks with a massive twist every time it got passed to the next group of writers leading to a series that bore no resemblance to the start within 8 hours; or every series of Heroes after the first where superpowers were turned on and off or characters turned from good to bad and vice verse on a weekly basis just to suit whatever was happening that week, nevermind what happened before.
After just 5 episodes I can't be sure that The Event won't turn into something balls in the future, but for now it's building quite nicely. It's fast paced, mysterious, mostly unpredictable and fun. The characters have been sketched quite nicely and have room to be fleshed out, something Lost did so well, but they are still just sketches; not the fully drawn characters of HBO. Despite everyone looking so beautiful, a constant irritant in network TV, I don't particularly want to slap anyone I'm supposed to like. There is a minor worry in episode 5 where a character did something very out of character, but I'll hold judgement until I see where they take it.
So, if you're at home alone on Friday with nothing planned then check it out. It's nothing on The Wire or Treme, it's much better than Heroes or Flashforward ever were and it's not too far behind where Lost started out. It won't change your life, but it will hopefully keep you entertained.