The Event; will it get the axe?

18 Oct

Arguably NBC’s biggest punt this year was in the conspiracy thriller ‘The Event’, the Monday night drama that got off to a solid start and was also one of the biggest reasons that slot rival Lone Star (on Fox) was kicked off the air after two episodes (it just couldn’t compete in the deeply competitive slot and sadly Fox refused to give it a decent chance and / or another slot).

But the numbers have been tumbling by significant amounts every week though and it looks like this killer slot ‘may’ have another victim sometime soon.  So if you’re planning to tune into this on Channel 4 then stand-by that the hundreds of questions that are brought up may have no resolution in the future.

Check out this graph, that compares The Event to the similarly poor received Flashforward last year (which was given a full season but left many viewers disappointed with no real resolution). It looks at the viewing figures (in adult millions) across episodes, starting from the first episode on the left.

Click on the graph to see it full size.

That’s nearly half of The Event’s original audience gone by episode four!

Whereas Flashforward only lost just over 3 million viewers in the same period, which is quite a fall and did ultimately lead to cancellation. But the steady numbers later in the season, hovering just over 5 million viewers, was just good enough to warrant that full season (and I reckon they figured dramas like this have decent DVD takings, which is helped if they have one full season – poor already-cancelled Lone Star, My Generation and Outlaw will never have that blessing).

The Event may have settled at just over 6 million viewers, if episode five’s numbers are any indication, then it’s still a disappointment for the network but should be enough to get a second season.

But why were the viewers desserting in such heavy numbers?

I think for a number of reasons. Lost, which is pretty much the reason shows like Flashforward and The Event get green-lighted in the first place, has just ended and viewers may like a break from such bafflement and intrigue. A show like Lost often required the viewer to do a bit of homework, be it rewatching an episode to having hearty discussions online, and after six years of this they may just want a bit of a break.

It’s also the fact that creatively it just isn’t that good. I only watched the pilot, I’ll admit, but I already got that lingering feeling I had with Flashforward; the creators are trying so hard to create something to hook me that they ultimately lost me. It goes full circle. The pilot of The Event was a mess, full of pointless time shifts and twists that it just became boring. It also didn’t help that none of the characters ooze the relatable charm those in Lost had from the very first episode – by the time Jack, Kate and Charlie returned from the brutal trip to the cockpit I was already rooting for them and wasn’t completely bombared with mystery in that first episode.

Maybe Lost was also just an exception to the rule. The most succesful shows on the broadcast networks tend to be procedurals that have a very clear beginning, middle and end for each episode (like House MD, NCIS, Criminal Minds, CSI) or shows with a clear and easy-to-follow storyline that don’t ‘neccessarily’ need a full commitment (like Glee, Hawaii Five-0, Castle). The shows that break that mould need a cast that have charisma and charm that will draw people in week-by-week (like 24, Greys Anatomy, The Mentalist). Lost broke the mould because it ticked the latter box, The Event does not.

It could also be, as already mentioned, the vicious competition in the slot. CBS has the troublesome twosome of Two and a Half Men and newcomer Mike & Molly (a comedy about overweight people that was always bound to rate well) that are watched by 11.5 million people, whilst ABC has Dancing With The Stars that is watched by nearly 20 million people. That’s a majority of the audience on the other channels straight away, and Fox learnt that lesson quickly (sadly for Lone Star, the key demographic for them was the one watching Dancing For Stars).

My prediction? It will probably get a full season order like Flashforward did, just for the sake of the improved DVD sales in the future. I think there’s a much greater chance that the season will be shortened though, to around 18 (or less!), if the numbers don’t rise any time soon. If it continues to fall at its current rate (beneath 5 million viewers consistently or so) then I think that the axe will begin to sharpen and the questions raised will have no answers at the end of it all…


The Event has been given a full season order by NBC (though the terrible Outsourced did too).


One Response to “The Event; will it get the axe?”

  1. Alan Campbell October 20, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    unfortunately shows like this for years to come are going to be very closely compared to Lost and with good reason. As you say clearly The Event was made with the hope of catching onto ‘Lost’ now lost (haha) audience. If you’re going to make a show that wants to wear that crowd then it better be up to the job and have a damn good cast

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