Roswell
Pilot

Episode Report Card
Djb: D | 6 USERS: A-
YOU GRADE IT
Pilot

Fade in on a California soundstage vaguely replicating a dusty corner of the American desert never seen by nine out of ten execs at the WB. As the Roswell title (written in Microsoft Word font "Alien Bold") fades from the screen, the camera pans down from cold, empty space (or -- IS IT?) to a New Mexican rooftop. Surrounded by candles and comfy warm under an adobe-style-recognizing-the-existence-of-Native-Americans-in-New-Mexico-but- don't-go-looking-for-them-on-this-show blanket, Liz "ET Clones Holmes" Parker is writing in her journal. "September 23rd. Journal Entry One. I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died." I spend these moments considering how passé and insulting voice-over narration can be, and wonder why Liz doesn't just give herself over to the current trend of turning to the camera and addressing it directly. These pretentious musings are presently drowned out by Eagle-Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight" accompanying the new scene. Par for the course, I think -- another WB show has begun.

Five days earlier, inside the kitsch-friendly Crashdown Café, Liz shows her stripes as a sassy waitress with a whole lot of cynicism about the whole Roswell mythology, while waiting on two stereotypical tourists (we know they can't be permanent cast members because there's no way these two could have passed the WB screen test, in which the auditionee stands beside a cardboard cutout of Alyssa Milano and David Boreanaz beneath a sign that reads "you must be at least this beautiful to appear on the WB") in town for the yearly Crash Festival. Liz serves the mathletes their alien-themed meals, "one Sigourney Weaver" and "one Will Smith." Realizing she is among conspiracy types, people about whom Dungeons and Dragons TV movies were made in the '80s, Liz decides to exploit a universal maxim that most of us just take for granted, namely that the ugly and unfashionable are highly suggestible and should be treated only as comic foils to the beautiful. "So," ventures the male diner patron to Liz, "does your family come from Roswell?" Liz deadpans, "Just four generations," and suddenly you just know that these X-Philes would tip their waitress about a million space dollars for just a glimpse into her existence. Putting away his Palm Pilot (Geek Check! Technology is for suckers), he inquires, "Well, does anyone in your family have some stories about the UFO crash?" Save tonight and fight the break of dawn. Come tomorrow, tomorrow I'll be gone...oops, sorry, back to the action. Liz hands a piece of paper to the couple. Disappointed that it isn't the latest CD-ROM version of Magic, The Gathering but nevertheless buoyed by the prospect of further plot development, the tourists take great interest in the artifact before them, which remains unseen by the audience to increase the drama and shock value. Liz's waitress friend Maria sees the piece of paper, and speaking of wacky comic foils, this wackiest wacky neighbor this side of Mrs. Poole is burdened with the task of making humorous a show almost as dangerously humorless as, well, The Hogan Family. Anyway, Maria asks a table of two angry men if they want a coffee refill. Deep in a heated discussion involving one man wanting "to see the money on the table," he turns to Maria only long enough to spit, "No. Get outta here," and goes back to fuming about not winning first prize in Roswell's yearly Joey Buttafuoco Lookalike Contest. But I'll bet the voting was close.

Maria's subplot (she wants to give them coffee, they do not want any coffee) effectively over, we return to Liz's relentless mockery of the genetic mishaps who dare to commit really icky fashion mistakes like wearing black-framed glasses. Liz: "My grandmother took this picture at the crash site right before the government cleaned it up." Mrs. Palm Pilot asks, "Do people know about this photograph?" Liz responds, "I know about it. And now you know about it." The couple utter dorky variations on the word "wow" and Liz knows she's fooled them. More power to her. "I'm gonna be right back," Liz intones dramatically. And then she utters the warning, "Don't show this to anyone." What is it? WHAT IS IT ALREADY? Pan down slowly to -- a picture of an alien. See? I told you. Liz walks away, obviously thinking, "God, this is fun. No wonder easy targets are called easy targets." But perhaps she should have been thinking, "Gee, I sure hope I'm not shot in the stomach and have to have my life saved by a teenage alien who can manipulate molecular structure, especially not right here in front of all these people! It sure would turn that picture into some pretty incriminating evidence, particularly in the hands of those lucid and reputable individuals." But more on these contrivances later. Now it's time for some character development.

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Roswell

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