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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Roswell (review)

As a teenager, I half-believed that my “real” parents would, any day now, swoop down in their spaceship and rescue me from dreary ol’ planet Earth. Who’d have guessed that such trite teen angst could serve as the basis of a network TV series? Not that it’s a good basis… This snooze of series posits that yes, aliens really did crash in the New Mexico desert, and now they’re students at Roswell High. Alien dreamboat Max Evans (Jason Behr), with his ability to “manipulate molecular structures,” saves ordinary human Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby) from certain death, blowing his cover and launching an intensely earnest romance at the same time — he is, naturally, inexplicably drawn to the Earth girl. But now mildly creepy Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) is onto the E.T.s, which draws agents from a shadowy branch of the FBI, too. The show hints at a darker parable of teen sex and love — “It’s not safe,” warns Max of their relationship; “I don’t care,” Liz replies — than it ever delves into, instead content to revisit territory, in between exams and homework, already explored by The X-Files. (Unsurprisingly, series cocreator David Nutter is an X-Files veteran.) Situations and plotlines get increasingly absurd, over the course of these 22 episodes, with no concurrent increase in charm or sense of humor. There’s lots of extras — commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes and auditions — but the series is lethargic enough without getting bogged down in that kind of minutiae.


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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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