'Greek' graduates, 'The Event' returns

Monday, 07 March 2011 12:00 AM Written by 


Two TV events tonight worth noting: "The Event" returns to NBC with a two hour episode (8 p.m., WPXI) and "Greek" ends its run on ABC Family (9 p.m.).

There's no doubt more people will watch "The Event" but "Greek" is the more satisfying of the two shows.

Read more after the jump. ...

You can have your "Gossip Girl" or "Life Unexpected" or "Pretty Little Liars." For my money, there hasn't been a better teen drama in recent years than "Greek." I'm sure viewers who never watched it thought the show was just a bunch of college kids getting drunk and having sex. And, yes, that was a part of it because, duh, that accurately reflects modern college life. But what made "Greek" great is that it featured fully-developed college-age characters who grew over time. Also, it's got to be the only show in prime time to feature both an evangelical Christian character, Dale (Clark Duke), and an African-American gay character, Calvin (Paul James), and both were treated with respect.

Written by series creator Patrick Sean Smith and Matt Whitney, the final "Greek" episode offers both closure and shout-outs to the series' past.

The series ends well with a sense of the lives of the characters continuing, as they should. But before that final montage set to music ("Forever Young," of course), several stories have to come full circle -- the rivalry between Cappie (Scott Michael Foster) and Evan (Jake McDorman), most notably -- and the Kappa Taus endure a sad loss. Also, viewers learn Cappie's full name.

As for the show's legacy, it might be that of a training ground for young actors. Among those who passed through, per IMDB: Danny Pudi ("Community"), Olivia Munn ("Perfect Couples"), Harry Shum Jr. ("Glee") and Jesse McCartney ("Locke & Key").

Event_returnAlas, any legacy talk for NBC's "The Event" will be how it was another in a long line of serialized failures. Anecdotally, I've heard from a decent number of viewers who have been awaiting the show's return, but I'll be surprised if the ratings are anything better than mediocre. Why should they be? The show is just that: Mediocre.

I wanted to like "The Event" and the series had me hooked for the first few episodes as fast revelations were made. But then that stopped, I grew bored and I gave up. Ratings suggest I was not alone.

Tonight's mid-season premiere -- the show has been away for about four months, which also does not help with viewer retention -- does offer some forward momentum story-wise in its first hour. But it all seems like too little, too late.

In a recent teleconference with reporters, the show's star tried to put up a brave front while acknowledging his own initial misgivings about the long hiatus.

"I was frustrated and concerned just because, you know, momentum is always a good thing and people need to become more and more engaged and care about something. It takes time to garner an audience," said Blair Underwood, who plays the U.S. president. "And for that reason I was frustrated but for that reason I understand that’s why we were taken off for three months so when we come back ... we’ll be on for two hours initially, starting at 8’clock on March 7th and then we can be on the air for 11 weeks straight, without any interruptions. So we can - we’ll have a chance to have momentum but we needed a three month window off the air to create the episodes, to put them in the can and not have any interruptions."

No interruptions is great but it's hard to imagine enough viewers will tune in to give "The Event" a fighting chance. And with new leadership at NBC, this show is looking more and more like the previous regime's dud, which makes its renewal even less likely.

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