Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Great Roswell Rewatch (episode 1 & 2)

Roswell is the first show that I ever loved.  There was aliens, conspiracy theories, true love and super powers.  As a teenager I never thought of this as a science fiction.  Sure Max, Isabel and Michael are aliens.  But their also high schoolers and it seemed to focus more on the human elements than the science.  It was a blend of "dealing with being alien" and "high school woes."

It is not a show about aliens as much as it's a show about growing up and discovering the world isn't what you thought.  It's universal because even being alien, is a lot like being an outsider and who can't relate to that?

In the YA storytelling world of human/non human relationships, not only did Roswell do it first, they did it better. If you like the character driven fantasy and sci-fi that is so prevalent in YA, then you need to watch Roswell because it's kind of the grandfather of the genre.

Episode 1 Pilot

I fall in love with this episode every freaking time.  Nowadays it seems much more cliched than it did when I was a freshman in high school.  Back then I loved Liz's jeans with the ribbons on the bottom, belly shirts were all the rage and Michael's pointy hair was enough to make a girl swoon.

In case you like random trivia, Roswell was the most highly rated pilot EVER.  I say this to prove I had superior taste, even at 14.

This episode begins with Liz tormenting the tourists who are in town for the annual Crash Festival , offering to show them the prized family "alien picture" and giggling as they believe her.  Pro-tip, high school girls working in a place called the Crashdown Cafe, who weren't alive during an alien crash probably aren't your best sources of information.

This establishs Liz, funny, smart, girl next door and completely likable.  Then like two-second laters she dies.  Except not really.  Because Max Evans, runs to the front of the restaurant, looks into her eyes and saves her life.  Then he breaks a ketchup jar and begs her to keep his secret.

On a totally unrelated note, I always liked Liz's bra.
What comes next is the classic lab partner scene.  How many times have we seen this in YA?  Ever the scientist, Liz takes Max's chewed pencil (ewww alien germs) and looks at his cells under the microscope.  She discovers *gasp* they aren't normal.  Which of course Liz already realized because of the whole "saving her life incident" but she wanted scientific evidence.

So what does Liz do?  Does she mope around wondering what's going on? Nope, she confronts Max.  This is another of my favorite scenes (which you might be realizing is the entire episode) where Liz asks Max where he's from and he points upward and she accuses him of being a Canadian before he admits to being an alien.  Being a Canadian would've totally explained everything too you know.

I have a feeling some Roswell detractors (if you exist I pity you) are going to accuse Liz and Max of Instalove.  But it's not Instalove.  Max has had a crush on Liz for years, but being a poor unfortunate alien he's been afraid to ask her on a date.  So instead, he let's her see into his soul.
"I could feel everything he was feeling.  I could feel his loneliness.  For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans.  I saw me as he saw me. And the amazing thing was, in his eyes I was beautiful."
That's when Liz actually starts having feelings for Max.  Not when he saves her, not when she finds out he's an alien, but when she actually knows him. 

Later in the episode, Liz confronts Max again saying that she's going to go the sheriff if he doesn't answer all of her questions.  Since when do heroines actually talk to law enforcement about their problems?  I thought they always stumbled around putting their lives in danger without ever thinking to call the police.  But Liz doesn't have to go the police because Max tells her everything.  This is also highly abnormal in YA stories.

Even though Max technically saves Liz's life, she's never the damsel in distress.  In the end Liz comes up with the plan that SAVES ALL THE ALIENS, which is pretty awesome in my book.

Roswellian Wisdom 

"It's September 24th, I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. But then the really amazing thing happened. I came to life."
(For such an amazing pilot its surprisingly short on life advice)

The Morning After

Episode 2

Liz's diary is a compelling narrative.  Despite aliens being essential the plot, this is a human story told by a human girl.  The sci-fi stories we connect with most of not the stories of aliens.  They are the stories of human's who lives are impacted by aliens.  Ender's Game focuses on the humans, not the alien foe. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness follows the human experience with the Spackle,  and even Dr. Who needs a companion to humanize and interpret the experience for us.  

This episode has so much of the humor I love about Roswell.  In order to discuss aliens publicly, Liz and Maria choose a code word: Czechoslovakians (despite the fact this country doesn't exist anymore, even when the show was made).  When their best guy friend Alex gets suspicious they claim they've been talking about cramps.  You bet that shuts him up. 

This whole episode Liz is freaking out because she thinks the FBI is onto Michael.  But do you know what they've noticed?  Not that he's an alien. That he's skipping a WHOLE lot of school.  Yes I know. A YA story where adults actually notice that the kids aren't going to school.  Crazy right?

Roswellian Wisdom

  • "The guy touched you and you saw into his soul. How do we know what happens when he kisses you?" - Maria to Liz
  • "The eraser room does two things. It cleans erasers and takes our innocence." - Maria to Liz
  • "How am I ever suppose to become whoever it is I'm gonna become when everybody's looking?" - Liz

I like the fact that Liz and Max talk about REAL things.  They're building a friendship not based on scent or smell or destiny, but through more normal methods like talking and dates.  Yes he looked into her soul and she looked into his but that doesn't mean they're going to skip all the normal relationships steps.

I feel like I've seen a lot of versions of classic Roswell scenes in YA books.  A lot of people have thought that Twilight took many plot points from Roswell (different species, falling in love, lab partners, story really starts when he saves her life, family of aliens/vampires).  I hate comparing anything I love to Twilight (sorry fans, I'm just not) but I can see where it comes from with Roswell.  Though I must say, Roswell is better.  Not only was it first, the relationships were healthier and Liz was  both smart and tough when necessary.

Any other Roswellian-esque scenes you've seen in books?  


Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

OOoh I used to LOVE this show! Devastated that it cancelled after 3 seasons! Even read the book series!

There was a small collection--like 4 books--that showed the gang after they fled Roswell. It was good too, just not enough still!

Tamara Ford said...

I love that you're doing a Roswell Rewatch! I used to LOVE this show. No joke! I was so sad that it ended. I actually went back and watched a few of my favorite episodes on Netflix last summer.

I liked Twilight, but I agree with you, I would NEVER compare it to Roswell! It's not on the same level, not even close!

I had no clue that books existed which followed them after they left Roswell. Hmm, I should pick them up!

Tamara @ Shelf Addiciton

Cassi Haggard said...

I actually regularly re-watch Roswell, generally once a year. It's my happy place TV show.

I'm thinking about reading the Roswell series but I want to do it at a different time from when I'm doing the rewatch so I don't constantly compare the 2. I've only read one of the Roswell books.

I was sad when they cancelled Roswell too, but after all these years I've come to accept it. I should read those last 4 books at least, I'm curious what comes next.

Glad you guys liked this post! If you want to re-watch with me you're more than welcome!

Alisa Selene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bellas Shelf said...

Mr bro begs me to watch Roswell. Since I have Netflix he thinks its a sin I haven't watched it yet.
I told him after finishing Gossip Girl, Lost, then Roswell :-)

Cassi Haggard said...

I would personally do Roswell before Lost, not because it's better but because it's shorter. Lost is a big time commitment (I own all the seasons of it as well)

curlypow said...

Best series ever, and I wasn't anywhere near being a teenager when I watched it. That Canadian comment is priceless.

Allison said...

I was seriously obsessed with this show back in the day as well. And I am so glad you mentioned Liz's clothes because....!!!!!!! LIZ'S CLOTHES! I was so addicted to fangirling over whatever she wore - from her jeans to her sneakers to her 3/4 sleeve shirts. Heck, even her shiny hair. (Oh wow, how creepy do I sound?)