Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The plot is basically "X-Files" for dumb people: there are aliens among us who arrived in the 1940s, and the government is trying to cover it up, and there are evil shadowy people who will kill you if you know too much. Seems promising, but this show manages to make it really slow and boring, and they show us each scene multiple times through flashbacks in case we weren't bored enough the first time.
I could go on and on, but really the best critiques you'll find comes from Kay Reindl's Twitter feed. You can follow that live if you're watching the show on West coast time. But, at least from my perspective, the most horrible parts come from the portrayal of American politics. The president and vice president are portrayed as just two guys who happen to work in a modest-sized firm. When the president wants to talk to the vice president, he walks over to his office, and then the VP's receptionist has to give some story about why he's unavailable. Indeed, other than receptionists and an occasional national security advisor, there's no executive staff to speak of. The president makes his key governing decisions while sitting in the living room with the first lady. Oh, and the president and vice president are of different political parties.* By comparison, the idea of space aliens living among us is quite easy to embrace.
In a classic moment last night, the vice president, who has been scheming with some shadowy folks but wants to confess, is speaking with his wife, who is terrified. The wife says that some men came to their house to tell her to get her husband to keep quiet. (Some men came to the vice president's house? They just walked up to the door?) And these weren't ordinary men, she says: "They knew our kids' names!" Oh, my God, those must be evil, super-powerful men! How else could one find out the names of the vice president's children?
Yes, it's low-grade sci-fi, and maybe the writers don't follow politics all that well, but how hard is it to learn such basic stuff? This is NBC -- maybe some of the West Wing's writers are still at the commissary. Buy one of them lunch.
*We aren't told who is a member of which party. The president is an African American with a Latino surname who has a vacation home in Florida, suggesting he's of Cuban ancestry, and further suggesting he's Republican. But he also explicitly forbids the use of torture on detainees, so it's hard to be sure.