The Event, Channel 4, Friday
The Taking of Prince Harry, Channel 4, Thursday

US sci-fi is a rerun of 'Lost', with topical knobs on

Channel 4's latest US import, portentously titled political thriller / sci-fi mash-up The Event, begins plausibly enough.

Perky twentysomething Leila waves her parents goodbye before heading off on a cruise with lantern-jawed boyfriend Sean. Wait. A young couple going on a cruise? I know the liners have been working hard to dispel the greys-and-gays stereotype, but really? Still, it's easily the show's most credible proposition.

No surprise that it's not all sunshine and cocktails. Seven days later Leila has vanished and nice guy Sean appears to be hijacking a plane. I'm still not clear how we got from A to B (nothing is mind-bendingly difficult, it's just relayed via a dizzying chain of flashbacks), but it can all be traced back to a plane crash in Alaska half a century ago. The human-looking survivors picked up by the US military were found to be (groan!) extraterrestrials who have been held secretly by the CIA ever since.

Now, America's recently elected black president (one of many cheap stabs at relevance) wants to liberate the ETs and tell the world. It never happens, though, because moments before his press conference kicks off, the plane that Sean is attempting to re-route nosedives towards the president's residence. Suffice it to say there are a few more manoeuvres that get Sean tangled up in this (not all of which have thus far been revealed), but you get the Ordinary-Joe-caught-up-in-a-massive-conspiracy gist.

Until this point it is quite gripping – the nimble structure kept me watching, and the cast, new faces mixed with more familiar ones such as Blair Underwood and ER's Laura Innes, are good. But just as you think the Pres and his family are toast, the plane disappears in a ball of swirling light and it becomes clear that this is a show where sci-fi is less a basis for asking difficult questions than a device for fudging them. When the genre serves as a deus ex machina for tricky bits, it's hard not to feel that it's the refuge of writers incapable of devising a mystery within rational bounds.

In the US, The Event has been hyped as an inheritor of the Lost tradition, but given the latter's frustrating finale, I wonder whether people will stick with this one long enough to find out what ominous "event" the aliens are actually planning. I'll happily tune in if it's a flash-forward to a world where people are no longer making dodgy imitations of Lost.

Or how about a TV landscape without overblown "what if" documentaries? Channel 4's other televisual "event" last week, The Taking of Prince Harry, had everyone in a lather before broadcast, but the controversial premise – what might happen if Harry were kidnapped on military duty in Afghanistan – produced little that could be genuinely shocking to anyone who watches the news.

At 90 minutes it felt laboured, but had they lost the silly dramatisations of Hazza being roughed up, it might have made a passable documentary. But then we would have been deprived of gems such as the British recruit to the Taliban asking the incognito prince if "he'd been on the telly".

It threw up some interesting points – the thorny question of government policy on ransoms, for one – and there was a sensible question in all of this: should Prince Harry be allowed to return to Afghanistan if his protection puts other soldiers at risk? Since the makers didn't have the balls to stage anything but a fairytale rescue, of the kind that the recent case of Linda Norgrove reminds us doesn't exist, the question remained unanswered.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory