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Roswell (The CW) pilot preview: Back In Town

Written and executive produced by Carina Adly MacKenzie (The Originals). Based on 90s hit series & Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. Also produced by Kevin Kelly Brown (Roswell, Flesh and bone, Seven Seconds), Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) Justin Falvey & Darryl Frank (Bull, The Americans, Falling Skies, Extant, Under The Dome). Directed by Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Kyle XY). For The CWWarner Bros. Television, Amblin Television & Bender Brown Productions. 60 pages. Network Revisions Draft. 1/12/18.

Description: After reluctantly returning to her tourist-trap hometown of Roswell, NM, Liz Ortecho, the daughter of undocumented immigrants, discovers a shocking truth about her teenage crush who is now a police officer: he’s an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life. She protects his secret as the two reconnect and begin to investigate his origins, but when a violent attack and long-standing government cover-up point to a greater alien presence on Earth, the politics of fear and hatred threaten to expose him and destroy their deepening romance…

With Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy, Bunheads), Nathan Parsons (Once Upon A Time, The Originals, True Blood), Michael Vlamis, Lily Cowles (Braindead), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries, Cane), Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars, Ravenswood), Heather Hemmens (If Loving You is Wrong, Hellcats), Trevor St John (Containment), Karan Oberoi (Notorious)…

   

As much as I despise this trend of rebooting everything for no good creative reason, some of them make sense and Roswell falls exactly in this category. We don’t NEED a Roswell reboot, per say. Even The CW doesn’t really need it. They’ll already have the Charmed one and we could argue one new reboot a year is already enough. BUT the thing is: Roswell was a good show 15 years ago, that never found the success it deserved. It only lasted 3 seasons and it never became a cult favorite like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy or other contemporaries. Giving the concept a second chance somehow is a desirable idea. And what this script is doing is kinda miraculous: it improves the original show. By making the characters slightly older, they transformed the fantasy teen drama into a more adult property that’s still relevant today. Yeah, we’re not into aliens today like we were in the 90s but among all those vampires and zombies, they’re almost like a breath of fresh air (from space)! And the subject of society feeding on the politics of fear and hatred obviously resonates with post-Trump America.

Kevin Kelly Brown, who was an executive producer on the original series, is the link that connects the two Roswell incarnations. Besides him, it’s a whole new producing team. Meaning no Jason Katims no more. He was the creator of the show and he did Friday Night Lights, Parenthood & Rise since then. It’s sad he’s not part of it, I’m pretty sure he would have been precious there. Even though the show is still based on the “Roswell High” book series, our characters are in their late twenties and don’t go to school anymore, except for the traditional 10 year high school reunion that happens the week-end Liz returns to her Roswell hometown. You want to know the reason why she left? It’s something that’s revealed step by step in the script but I’ll tell you the whole truth anyway since they drag the revelations for too long in my opinion: her sister Rosa died, killing two others in a drunken car accident while she was in high school. And Max was involved in her death -the details are kept under wraps for now- though he never told Liz about it. Pretty quickly after her arrival, people shoot up her father’s diner, fatally hitting her, and that’s when Max uses his alien powers to resurrect her. Now she knows the truth about him, their romance is back full force! When the reboot was ordered, the articles insisted a lot on “the immigration twist” of this version but the fact that Liz has had undocumented parents doesn’t play any role in the pilot. It’s just something that’s said. We’ll see if they plan on delving into it later. The parallel with the aliens’ own trajectory could be illuminating. By the way, I love the scenes between Liz and her father. They’re very emotional.

So Liz is not very different than the one we knew in the 90s, except she became a jaded biomedical researcher. Max is now a dedicated Roswell police officer and a natural born leader. His sister Isobel is married to a man she doesn’t love anymore; she wasn’t meant for small-town life, but she lives it with all the grace and enthusiasm she can muster. Michael is a troubled but brilliant young man, who survived a violent childhood and now is secretly driven to find a way to escape Earth and the humans who have failed him to return to a mysterious home he’s never known. Meanwhile, Maria, Liz’s fun, free-spirited former best friend and social media maven is oblivious to the realities of Roswell. And in this version, she’s not romantically involved with Michael and probably never will be for a very good reason! Michael is gay. And it’s not the only twist… He’s a man of many secrets: he’s in a hidden relationship with… Alex! Yeah, more precisely Sgt. Alex Manes, who returned home from the Middle East after experiencing his fair share of psychological and physical trauma. He aims to adhere to his father’s expectations, abandoning his dreams and the possibility of a future with the man he loves… Well, that’s how you make once a bit weak characters relevant! And let’s not forget Kyle Valentin, Liz’s other ex, the popular son of the town sheriff -a woman this time!- who questions his carefree outlook on life after learning the terrifying truth of his family’s legacy. Those are strong characters all around. They’re all in this period of life when you’re starting to understand who you really are but you’re not accomplished yet and it can be painful. Young adults will relate. And there’s this cliffhanger with a new UFO crashing in the desert, that’s exciting!

The new Roswell is actually a better Roswell; a promising pilot that manages to introduce strong characters while setting an atmosphere and launching multiple storylines without getting messy in the process. It’s probably one of the best things, if not THE best, that The CW will offer us next year.