Throwback Thursday, WB Style
Fans of the short-lived and definitely not critically acclaimed show Roswell were excited, and then subsequently horrified, to see ex-WB star Shiri Appleby on Season 2 of Girls. How could you do that, Liz Parker?
Roswell was based on the same-titled series of young adult books and aired on the WB (and the UPN) from 1999- 2002. It was developed, produced, and co-written by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, My So-Called Life) Side note: Jason Katims is a TV genius; I think we can agree on that.
Premise: Three aliens survived the 1947 “UFO” crash and then conveniently/randomly escape their glowing pods in the 80’s. Max and Isabel get adopted by nice middle class parents, while poor Michael ends foster care. This establishes a nice tension among the aliens since Michael is the most driven, obbessed even, with finding their "real" home. Initially, Max and Isabel seem merely curious.
They all have some form of super power, usually in the form of molecular manipulation, and they’re trying to find out what happened to them/where they're from. Then one fateful day, Max saves his crush Liz Parker’s life and is forced to tell her the truth. Feelings ensure.
Theme Song: Where did Dido go, I ask of you?! "I am what I am/ I'll do what I want but I can't hide" Real subtle, guys. Just in case any pre-teens watching didn't know what the theme of the episode was, the music cues tended to hammer the point home.
Initial impressions: We are introduced to the show through Liz's voice over narration/ journal entries, which forces us to see Max and company as even more alien. This also allowed the back story to unfold slowly, as we took the journey together with Liz. Teenage girls probably over-identified with honor student Liz as she starts to push back against Normal and what is Expected of her. Other demographics didn't watch the show.
They're supposed to be in HIGH SCHOOL? Even NOW, Season 1’s “Sexual Healing” gives me chills. Brief synopsis: Max and Liz start to have visions when they kiss and Liz's desire for Max reaches an all time high" At 16, I was definitely drooling. Full disclosure: I taped this episode using the cool preset on my VCR and wore out the tape. I cannot overestimate how much of a nerd I was/on. The lack of Jason Behr in my life is STILL nothing short of tragic. Why do high schoolers on TV always seem so much cooler and more grownup? That is the perennial question of Throwback Thursdays.
Glowing hickeys, dream walking, and shape shifters aside, the show tended to be character driven, especially season 1. Fans of Katims’ shows won’t find that fact surprising. As ratings dropped however, the show was increasingly under pressure to incorporate more sci-fi elements. Esteemed science fiction writer Ronald D. Moore was added to the writing cast in season 2 but the story arcs got more campy and ridiculous. The words "Granilith", "Kivar", and "Vilandra" get thrown around a lot. Only two of those are names. Someone gets pregnant with an alien baby that somehow can't survive on Earth, despite being conceived here. FBI agents are unable to get the best of high schoolers.
The underlying heart of the show was Max and Liz’s relationship, which pulled off the feat of being a typical teenage relationship while still introducing conflict and drama that was driven from their unique situation. Glowing hickeys, for example. Being really horny and seeing visions of other galaxies when they make out. Getting into trouble for staying out late to hunt down an alien signal. You know, the usual.
But should I watch it on Netflix? Only if you're entertained by teenage dramas and vague alien backstory. o, yes. Much in the vein of WB/ UPN dramas, season 1 is great, 2 is decent, and 3 is unbearable. (I'm looking at you, Veronica Mars) Fans of Vampire Diaries et al should probably give it a shot.
Oh, funny to see you here: Most people remember Grey’s Anatomy as being Katherine Heigl’s big breakout role, but ye of short memories. Fresh -aced 20 year old Heigl, pasty Colin Hanks, and Emilie de Ravin (Lost’s Claire) are all regulars at some point. As is Devon Gummersall aka Brian Krakow from My So-Called Life. Another Katims move- casting actors he’s worked with.