The Event: Wauters On Origins, Mythology, and Breaking Out

In an interesting interview with Spinoff Online, The Event creator Nick Wauters talks about the origins of the show, the mythology, and what plans he has to make the series eventful.

Head past the jump for snippets of the interview along with our candid thoughts.

With LOST, 24 and even that old fighter Heroes passing on this year, there’s a lot of expectation and pressure on The Event to deliver. Of course, there’s the network, who have reportedly spent a gazillion dollars hammering the show (or more accurately, its title) into the public consciousness. There’s also creative pressure – the type that drives storytellers to tell their story in the best way possible. But I sense that there’s also a deeper pressure from a fan point of view.

People (like ourselves) who appreciate serialized and mythology based stories have been burned in the recent past. I’m not gonna cite LOST like most people – I have my problems with the finale, but LOST is one of the success stories, even if the chosen ending undid some of the magic. Anyway, my point is that shows that involve more than a dash of mystery have to fight audience pre-conceptions right from the get-go.

So how is creator Nick Wauters handling the pressure?

This was never something that I expected. Or ever even dreamed of. Or imagined. It’s very exciting that so many people are looking forward to it. And just the buzz online has been amazing. I love getting involved in discussion groups. And Twitter and Facebook and all that stuff. It’s just been very exciting to see how people are looking forward to it. So, just that alone is very exciting. But it’s a lot of added pressure too, not only for the network but also for that fans that it seems we already have, even though the show hasn’t premiered yet.

One of the things I really appreciate about The Event, is that it’s an original project. It’s not a rehashing of an already done series (though I say that without knowing what the show will become). It’s something new and fresh, and yes, it’s inviting audiences to take the plunge. So where did this idea – whatever it actually is – come from? Wauters explains:

I originally came up with the idea about four-and-a-half years ago, and I was just really starting as a writer and at the time, it was more of a straight-forward thriller. A lot of the characters were pretty much the same as we have now in the pilot and a lot of the story was the same but there was no element of science fiction at that time. So it was more of a conspiracy story, a Hitchcockian thriller. It was about a crazy conspiracy and trying to survive it and really, for [Jason Ritter] to find his girlfriend [Sarah Roemer]. And doing whatever he has to do to find her. He was sort of the reluctant hero. That’s really what I wanted to do, not just do your usual everyday hero. I love 24, but I wanted to do something different and not have your typical hero.

Jason Ritter is fantastic in the part. And exactly what I was looking for, but that was really the original pilot. And it got a lot of attention at the time, and it almost got made but I think that was the year that the market was really over-saturated with serialized shows and you know, it almost happened but unfortunately, it didn’t get made at the time.

What I find interesting about the show’s origins is that it was actually NBC who asked Wauters to inject a bit of sci-fi mystery into proceedings:

And the one thing that they wanted to do differently, they came to me and said, “We love it the way it is but what do you think about adding maybe a little bit of a sci-fi element to it?” And I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy fan, so to me it was even more exciting to be able to go into that direction. They really didn’t give me any direction past that, so I sort of went away for a little bit and then I came back with a new bible. And while the pilot remained very close to the original, the mythology behind it, and the mythology of the show, is obviously very different because of it.

Which is pleasing to hear because normally you get the impression that the mainstream networks would rather not have any ‘crazy sci-fi’ elements unless the original premise actually requires it (think Fringe, Stargate). The fact that NBC asked for a dose of the Mystery Box Magic should give fans of this brand of storytelling some confidence. Although, at the end of the day, the show will still have to deliver.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, The Event may be embracing the fantastical, but as mentioned earlier, the show claims to have learned from the mistakes of others, and wont be laying on the mythology too thick, too fast:

There is obviously an overall arc to what the show is going to be, but you’ll get some major, major answers every few episodes, so you can sort of follow a story every five or six episodes. Same characters, it’s just something major gets resolved after a whole batch of episodes. That way you feel like you can join the show even though you may not have seen the show for several episodes. So it’s a combination of both. People definitely get answers. And as you said, something major happens in the pilot and you’re going to find out what that means, or at least what happens to the plane that’s involved in the show. You’re going to find out major answers related to that and find out who these detainees are in the second episode, within the first 10 minutes of the second episode.

I’m not sure I like the idea that viewers only have to tune in once every five or six episodes. Whilst many of us simply wont watch every episode live (even if we want to), I think it sets the wrong mentality. Train viewers to watch every five episodes and you lose the..event-feel of the series. I know that there’s ‘documented evidence’ which suggests that on average most viewers only watch four or five episodes of a show in any given season. But for those viewers who plan on following the series closely, be it live or through the wonders of technology (DVR, iTunes, etc), it would be good to know that each episode is important in its own right.

To be fair, I understand where he’s coming from, and appreciate his awareness of making sure that the show is not too difficult for viewers to follow. But hopefully you can also see my point. Regardless of the structure, I think we have to try to remain open-minded and give the show a chance. While I hold LOST up as the benchmark for this brand of storytelling over the past 5 years, it wasn’t without its major faults, and if The Event can be compelling whilst also being accessible to new viewers, then I’m all for it.

As for the flipped “E” in The Event title that we speculated on a few weeks back? Wauters is being coy over whether or not it has any meaning beyond the marketing campaign:

All I can say is that our graphic designers did an awesome job. And there could be something there. Or not. It’s one of those things I can’t give away quite yet.

Which is the way it should be at this stage. Mystery Box people, Mystery Box.

You can read the entire article here, but feel free to share your thoughts with us on The Event, and what you think its chances are of being the next big thing.

The Event comes out from Mount Inostranka, Monday, September 20th on NBC.

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