‘Roswell’: Original Take On Sci-Fi

by Shannon Baldo
Columnist

I’m a television and movie addict. I love everything having to do with the screen, and I want to share the bits of knowledge I have discovered about the most interesting and most successful shows that most people haven’t yet stumbled across. I hope to introduce you to the best television you (probably) haven’t seen – and if you have something to recommend yourself, please send it along to feed my addiction.

This week I continue on in my quest to bring you, faithful reader, the “Best Scifi Television You (Probably) Haven’t Seen,” the makeshift miniseries I began last week with my profile of comedy-scifi hit “Eureka.” I praised this show on its clever mix of genres and the brilliance of its writing, which focuses on the plots, characters and themes above the scientific technobabble which stands as the center of many science fiction projects.

This week, I bring you yet another show which compromises the stereotypes of science fiction for its own genre, this time that of romance: “Roswell.”

images.starpulse.comWhen it began its three-season run in 1999, “Roswell” captured the hearts of teenage girls nationwide with its starry-eyed young cast, its delicious scenes of teenage romance, and its overly dramatic plotlines. Led by the dreamy Jason Behr and the wholesome Shiri Appleby, the show was bound to be a hit.

However, before my description leads it to be categorized with hits like “Gilmore Girls” or “Melrose Place,” the show also had one more thing going for it, the aspect which leads me to consider it good television – an original premise centered on science fiction.

Set in Roswell, New Mexico – the site of the infamous 1947 Roswell crash – the series follows Liz Parker (Appleby), a teenage girl whose parents live off the town’s tourist trade, as she falls into the mystery and romance of the enigmatic and brooding Max Evans (Behr). Liz learns in the first episode that Max, his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and his best friend Michael (Brendan Fehr) are actually aliens sheltered in human form, beings deposited by the crash who cannot remember anything of their past or their home world.

Liz and later her friends become drawn into this mystery, helping the aliens to discover anything of their origin and trying to hide them from suspicion in a town of paranoia, all while Liz and Max embark on a dark, tortured romance forbidden by the fact of their different species.

The plot is suitably ridiculous for a show aimed at this demographic, and the drama between the primary couple is expectedly overwrought. It fits in perfectly with the current fanaticism for clichéd, teenage romances, though, in this case, a healthy dose of plot and cleverness comes along in the form of the sci-fi undertones.

With producer Ronald D. Moore backing up the series, known for his work on “Battlestar Galactica” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the science fiction actually acts as a substantial part of the show’s formula, striking a clever balance between sci-fi and romance which works for “Roswell’s” overall appeal.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that “Roswell” bears more than a few similarities to “Twilight.” The two main characters, a girl with an indefinable draw and a boy with a secret identity which could hurt the one he loves, embark on a tortured romance that constantly threatens to tear their worlds apart, the modern, fantasy-focused equivalent of star-crossed lovers.

True, “Roswell” can’t boast the smoldering beauty of Robert Pattinson – but at least it can lay claim to cleverly written scripts, a coherent premise, and intricate plots, as well as a tall, dark and handsome hero of its own.

With the recent obsession with romances of the sci-fi persuasion, I think that it’s time that the beauty of a teen show that is “Roswell” be resurrected, and teenage girls can finally indulge in something with enough substance to satisfy their intellects as well as their fantasies.

“Roswell” consists of three series and is available on DVD. The first five episodes are available for free online streaming at http://hulu.com.

For more television and movie reviews, check out my blog at screenchick.wordpress.com.

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