Welcome to another edition of Friday Flix. Since the BFF and I recently visited New Mexico, interesting in watching Roswell spiked, and as it’s available on Netflix, I gave it a go. I knew what this show was going into it (teen drama) but I’d watched Dawson’s Creek back in the day, so I figured it would probably be something like that.
For those that don’t know, here’s the Roswell description from Netflix:
In Roswell, New Mexico, human/alien hybrids Max, Isabel and Michael closely guard their true identities from enemies while forging romances with classmates and gradually discovering their destiny to save their home planet.
Seems like the perfect formula for a teen drama right? Girl meets boy who’s not human, and he’s the forbidden fruit, but he can’t stay away from her and no one can know their secret. (Sounds like a few other familiar plots out there, right?)
ROSWELL THE CITY
Having been to Roswell in person, they didn’t do a bad job pretending the part of California they filmed in was New Mexico. But I did notice the mountains in the background a lot (not really the case in Roswell), and sometimes the city looked way bigger than it actually was. But for those that have been dying to know, no, there isn’t a Crashdown Cafe in the real Roswell. Not even anything close. In fact, the real Roswell could take lessons from the show on how to promote tourism when it comes to restaurants. Not that I’m complaining too much. Big D’s Downtown Dive is still calling my name with those ridiculous Monte Cristo sandwiches.
Anyways, I’d be willing to let these details go if the rest of the story was more interesting. And it was… for awhile. I made it 10 whole episodes before I decided lits (life is too short).
Roswell was out right in the height of major WB (now called the CW) popularity. We had Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Smallville for that matter. So a lot of these characters feel the same across the teenage drama-verse. Which is interesting to note a lot of this stuff is almost formulaic, but in the right hands can be fantastic, and in the wrong, boring.
Okay, if we’re being honest, I probably couldn’t stand a re-watch of Dawson’s Creek for the same reasons. The leading man. He had mysterious going for him, but once we realize he’s an alien pretending like he knows anything about what’s going on, blaaaah… He’s got that too perfect character vibe. He could be a robot and show the same amount of emotion. By episode ten I’m already ready for Liz to break up with his “yes-let’s-get-together-no-wait-I’m-an-alien-so-we-can’t” attitude.
Supposedly the leading man, Max, has loved Liz his whole life and risked everything saving her life, but risking a romance is too dangerous. Why? It worked out all right for Superman. Geez, it even worked out for Edward and Bella. I guess Max’s excuse is, well, I want to protect you from the difficulty being with me could be. *eye roll* *gag* I know, it’s all for drama, but Max is a robot who probably likes feeling like he has to suffer. *yawn*
Let’s take Clark Kent from Smallville in the almost exact same situation. You know more than anything he wants to be with Lana (then Lois). And he’ll take whatever risks necessary, even to his own detriment. He’s a character of action. And when he can’t have Lana, he tries dating other girls in the meantime to see if she’s really the one.
Maybe that’s the problem. Roswell is too much about their relationship while Smallville is more about the superpowers and the relationship is a subplot. I don’t know. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments. Max is just dry, boring toast. Period.
SPEAKING OF BORING TOAST
It’s bad when everyone else on the show is more interesting than the leads. I found myself caring more about what happens to Michael and Maria or the Sheriff and the FBI chick than Max and Liz. Maybe the other thing is I see Max as kind of a wimp, and wimps Jae no likey. I don’t mean necessarily physical. Take Chuck, for example. He’s totally a wimp in the beginning, but you know he’s going to try his darndest to save Sarah’s life whenever she’s in trouble.
Dry toast will brood about it for awhile, then come and be lame and not charming and leave you wondering what exactly Liz finds intriguing about him (other than that he’s an alien).
INTERESTING CHARACTERS TAKE ACTION
Even if you’re the super good guy, you can still be interesting by taking action. Max seems content to just let life happen to him. There was a stint in an episode where he decided to take action and he was suddenly more interesting. But don’t worry, a few more episodes killed that off real quick.
Let your characters make mistakes, embarrass themselves, get into trouble, realize that being a stick in the mud sucks, etc. etc. And if they can’t take action, give us sufficient reason to believe they have to stay on the sidelines (though already that sounds boring).
Something I learned from my Pitch Wars mentor about my character was he didn’t arc enough. So I set out to make him less likable in the beginning, a tough task which I may still not have taken far enough (I’m still polishing. Probably always will be). But because I dared to give him some arc, he’s become more interesting and it gave him a little more depth.
I just wish Mr. Dry Toast had been written with more depth.
If you love teen drama like crazy, I guess you might find this series okay. But I’d easily recommend Buffy and Smallville over it, even re-watched a dozen times before Roswell. I suppose you could watch it to see what I mean about dry toast. Though I understand if you’d rather call it lits and watch Boys Before Flowers or something instead. 😉
All right, is it disagreement time? Were those fighting words for you or do you think Roswell was a lot parts boring too? What teen shows, aside from Buffy and Smallville did/do you like watching? Or what reasons make you steer clear from teen shows altogether. Let me know below.