15 de março de 2013

Movie, Reunion or Documentary?...

A while ago, I blogged about the Roswell Movie Petition that is still going on today, so many years after the show ended. I would love to know of the fate of those characters, after three short seasons.

While surfing the web, I found two interesting Tweets: one wondering about the odds of a Roswell reunion and another announcing a Veronica Mars movie (which prompted users to ask if we could have our Roswell movie now).

It got me thinking that a Roswell reunion could actually be more manageable than a movie, considering the fact that it would only take the cast members' good will to make an appearance. And they have expressed their good will time and time again regarding a possible movie, so I could see it happening.

Upon further thought, I concluded that a reunion could even be more meaningful than a movie! As I entertained the thought in my mind for a while, another idea took shape and with no great surprise, I realized that what I really wanted was a documentary. Not just with the cast, either – but with Jason Katims, executive producers like Kevin Kelly Brown, Jonathan Frakes, The presence of David Nutter,  the writers and... "the suits" [studio executives, mostly concerned with profit, not in touch with the fans of the show, which prompts them to make misguided decisions regarding their product]. The documentary could be an open forum where they could talk freely about the direction the show took. Maybe then the fans could finally have some of their questions answered.

Before I say anything else, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I love Roswell!

Speaking for myself and some other fans I've talked to (who shall remain nameless for this post), there was always this strange impression that "the suits" didn't have this show in such a high regard as the fans did. The story of Roswell is well-known in the circles as anything but smooth. In some ways, though, Roswell was no different than any other show – it had its ups and downs on the ratings, it had its great episodes and the not-so great episodes. Every show ever produced has this pattern.

But Roswell was unique for many reasons: 1) the source material had emotional complexity; 2) Jason Katims was a competent and dedicated writer; 3) the cast was very talented; 4) the pilot had a superb story that held the promise of many successful seasons.

So, why didn't Roswell fulfill its promise? For years, fans have speculated about this question. Why did Fox reject it? Maybe, if Roswell had aired on Fox, it wouldn't have had so many of the problems it did...

As everybody knows, the show was broadcast on the WB and it quickly became a "little ugly duckling" when "the suits" realized it didn't bring as much money as Buffy. I wonder if WB's "suits" even knew what Roswell was really about. Think about it: the show had so many different time slots during it's life that it seems as if "the suits" didn't really know how to sell Roswell...

I am not naive; I know that TV is a business and the stations are not in the game to lose money. But, as a fan, I don't watch a show thinking about the money they are or aren't making, I watch it for its level of storytelling. And this show was a loaded gun: the writing was fantastic, the actors were talented and the stories were gripping.

And then, "the suits" decided to make it more like Buffy... I would love a documentary where they could tell us why did they deem necessary to sacrifice Roswell's growing identity in order to make it more like Buffy. The two shows are nothing alike!

Was this sudden switch what stopped Roswell from fulfilling its promise? Because, if it was, it's just another evidence that "the suits" didn't know what Roswell was about! Or maybe they just didn't see what the fans saw.

Roswell offered us a singular perspective of a group of teenagers who befriend each other due to the circumstances that bring them together: the shooting in the Crashdown Café where Liz Parker almost dies, if not for Max Evans saving her. The blown secret of Max's alien status has a ripple effect across the group, and their friendship starts to develop. At the center of the group is the unfolding love story between Max and Liz. Their romance offers the viewers a great insight into the struggle of themselves and the entire group, while they try to figure out about their origins, their future and the dynamic of their friendship. The constant friction between the aliens and the humans results in self-knowledge, undying Love and an unbreakable friendship between the members of this group. The books were driven by emotion, there was nothing contrived about them. The science fiction was only a background from which to tell the stories.

The show's first season followed this recipe. That's why we fell in love with it. That's what made us tune in time and time again. When they turned Liz into the narrator with the diary entries (did "the suits" come up with that one!?) they made her journey twice as compelling. She's a modern Alice that we follow and we enter in this strange new world with her as our guide.

Season one laid the foundations for an alien mythology that sought to explain their past as they were adjusting to life on Earth and learned enough about themselves to find out where they really belonged and to make informed decisions about their future. All with the help of their human friends.

When we see little Max looking at little Liz across the crowded playground and see the looks they exchange, we are privy to a 10 year-old unfolding love story that takes off at the moment that Liz is fatally injured by an errant bullet. As we see their love developing and the immense sacrifices they make for each other throughout the series, they truly become soulmates "across Time and Space".

This was the modern fairy-tale that Roswell created. The undying Love between Max and Liz hit a nerve with audiences around the globe, to this day. It was a blessing that these characters were brought to life in such an enthralling way by Jason Behr and Shiri Appleby through three straight seasons, resulting in one of the finest crafted couples in TV history.

Still, "the suits" craved higher ratings. The show would've died, had it not been the perseverance of the fans and their Tabasco campaign to save it from obscurity. When Roswell was renewed, "the suits" wanted to find a new and broader audience for their show and their motto became 'more aliens and more sci-fi'.

The delicate balance between the ingredients that made people fall so in love with Roswell was lost in season two. The counterpoint between alien and human interaction seemed to lose its importance as the story progressed. The focus shifted to the aliens' struggle, the audience lost Liz as a guide and – much worse – lost the love story between Max and Liz as the center of the show. 

Maybe "the suits" got their ratings, but the fans missed what was unique about Roswell. We also lost a good portion of Season one's writers. I would love to know why.

One question I ask and have been asked frequently is about Max's mental status after he was rescued from the White Room: after being brutally tortured by the Special Unit in Season 1, we never really know what's going on in his head – the character has no voice at all. Max was great in season 1 – he carried the world on his shoulders and he carried an immense Love for Liz – but after he leaves Eagle Rock and, most importantly, after Liz breaks his heart, the audience lost him. Maybe it's because the audience knows so much more than he does...

In my opinion, Max's mental breakdown was announced by the writers, but for some fans, it seemed too subtle to be noticeable. To be honest, his one clue left to us in that single line of dialogue in "A Roswell Christmas Carol" spoke volumes to me. Add to it that Liz constantly pushed him away and ended their friendship, Isabel was lying to him about Vilandra and Michael was his untrustworthy usual self, and you have a mental breakdown in the making. It was plain for me to see, but I agree it could've been done better so that the viewers would have more sympathy for Max when the 'spit hit the fan'.

"The End of the World" was the most magical episode of season 2: once again, the science fiction was at the service of the story development, resulting in an epic episode. But, for some reason that I would love to understand, what was started in that episode never met a proper resolution onscreen. That was terribly upsetting for some people. Me included. And this was the main problem of Season 2, which I can only assume was heavily influenced by "the suits" and the pressure they put on the writers to develop the science fiction aspect of the show.

It wasn't just that the conversation about Future Max never happened for the fans to see; every plot in season 2 was under-developed in one way or another – the Skins, the Dupes, the Donors (they could've filled two seasons with these plots!) everything felt rushed. Yes, I know all about Colin Hanks and the major issue with the latter part of the season (even more rushed), but all the alien subplots left too many questions. I wish "the suits" could clarify this for the fans and the writers could shed some light into their original plan for the latter part of season 2, had Colin not left the show.

So... after all that effort to get more profit, after all was said and done, after Roswell was sacrificed at the ratings' altar, the show got cancelled anyway... and was again saved from oblivion by the fans' campaigns.

"The suits" at UPN got Roswell in a package deal with... you've got it: Buffy. Different network, same scenario. Because Buffy made the big bucks, Roswell was once again the "little ugly duckling". From what I've heard from other fans, "the suits" at UPN gave Katims creative control over his show and that's why the spirit of the third season resembled the first season. There was only one little detail. Two, actually. The innocence was gone, the damage had been done in season two and season three tried to pretend like it never happened, instead of giving the fans the resolution they had been craving to see. By the second episode, they had lost 2 million viewers. UPN was a smaller network than the WB. The ratings were low, and the threat of cancellation was once again hanging over their heads like a giant piano.

Something I would love "the suits" or the writers to explain was the reason of why so many episodes were devoted single-handedly to Isabel. I agree she needed development, but I failed to see the use of so many episodes devoted solely to one character when this show was an ensemble drama and there were so many other topics to deal with for the other characters. Weirder still: even with two of the Isabel centered episodes, we still got no good explanation about the whole Vilandra/Kivar thing and what made her betray her family...

I can't deny that my "Dreamer" heart was happy with the way the show ended. But the fans should've gotten a two-hour season finale (cancellation or no cancellation). It would've felt a lot less rushed. By the way: do two-hour season finales exist in Roswell or not? That's another question for "the suits" to answer in a possible documentary.

All in all: there are only two things I really hate about Roswell: 1) that it was not allowed to grow at its own pace and 2) that it only lasted for three seasons.

What would you like to see happening: a cast reunion, a Roswell movie or a Roswell documentary about the making of the show?

You know, I could die happy if the cast got together for a reunion, made a movie and one of the extras of the DVD was a long documentary about the making of the show!

Hey, a person can dream, right?

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