Thanks to scotlore for sending this in!
By Manuel Mendoza
Dallas Morning News
March 17, 2000
HOLLYWOOD — There’s a new girl for Max!
“Roswell” creator Jason Katims drops this little nugget of things to come while standing inside the show’s gaudy Crashdown Cafe, and you can almost hear the chat rooms starting to whir.
The Crashdown is where Max Evans, sensitive alien boy, saved the life of Liz Parker, skeptical Earth girl, launching one of the TV season’s most intense romances on one of the season’s best new shows.
As played by Jason Behr, 26, and Shiri Appleby, 21, you’d never know that Liz and Max are different life forms. Rarely have two young actors created this kind of chemistry on a screen of any size.
That chemistry reached a new level of intensity with the March 1 groundbreaking “Sexual Healing” episode, complete with metaphorical orgasms.
After that, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else catching Max’s eye, but it will happen this month — and into the May sweeps — when Katims introduces an outgoing new student as a potential love interest.
“Liz is ready for some action, too,” jokes a dolled-up Appleby shortly after driving onto the Paramount lot to film her “Blind Date” episode. “She’s so over the alien.”
Based on a series of children’s books called “Roswell High,” “Roswell” is among the latest wave of teen shows unleashed by the WB network, home to “Felicity,” “Dawson’s Creek” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Closest in tone to the latter, it uses teen aliens as a metaphor for teen alienation just as Buffy uses vampires as a metaphor for the horrors of adolescence.
Katims is new to sci-fi, though he’s getting help from David Nutter, an early “X-Files” director and Roswell executive producer.
“Most of the time, I’ve been putting three people in a room and waiting for them to cry,” says Katims, who cut his teeth on the seminal but short-lived teen series “My So-Called Life.”
“Roswell” combines the genres almost seamlessly. The aliens’ fear of getting found out by the authorities, along with an almost primal search for their roots, drives the plots. But it’s the relationships fostered by those hopes and fears that give the show its oomph.
In the pilot episode, Liz is shot at the Crashdown in front of Max. (Her father owns it, and she works there as a waitress.) No longer able to hide his long-standing crush on her, Max risks exposure by using his alien powers to heal the wound.
Converging story lines have followed: Liz gets the truth out of Max — he and his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and best friend Michael (Brendan Fehr) were in pods aboard the alien spaceship that crashed in Roswell — then immediately tells her best friend and fellow waitress Maria (Majandra Delfino) and later her childhood buddy Alex (Colin Hanks).
This makes Isabel and the brooding Michael paranoid, especially since the town’s Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) has become suspicious about the healing incident. Valenti also has an ax to grind: His father, the former sheriff, was a laughingstock for his belief in the alien crash.
On another teen show, this situation might be used to propel the six kids apart, mimicking the cliques and hallway politics that dominate most high-school shows. Instead, Katims uses it to bring the characters closer together, exploring what it means to grow up — without patronizing the young audience.
“Compared to other relationship shows, you have high stakes,” Katims says. “In adolescence, everything seems like an emergency. Well, in this show, we use the fact that they are in danger, that there is a need to lie. It’s putting them in a more adult situation than they would otherwise be in.”
Between scenes. Majandra Delfino and Katherine Heigl are sitting in a booth at the Crashdown, finishing each other’s sentences.
The diner, which mocks the town’s alien-crash mythology, is painted a sickly orange and green, the walls covered with pastel art of aliens among the cactus. One makes a peace sign.
The “specials” board lists a misspelled “Extra Terestral Taco Salad” and a “Chocolate Milkyway Shake.” “Today only,” it says, “add Unidentified Fried Objects to any sandwich for 25.”
Both Delfino and Heigl say they’ve been recognized in public since the show started, mostly by little girls at malls. Delfino has also been noticed in her Miami hometown.
Only 19, Delfino has been busy. She was a regular on “The Tony Danza Show” and appeared in the film “Zeus & Roxanne.”
Heigl, 21, is even more of a veteran. A model by age 9, she’s been acting since she was 12. She played Gerard Depardieu’s daughter in “My Father the Hero,” Peter Fonda’s daughter in the TV movie “The Tempest,” as well as having roles in “The Bride of Chucky,” “Under Siege 2” and Steven Soderbergh’s “King of the Hill.”
Like Liz and Max, both their characters are up for a little romance. In fact, when her intense makeout sessions with Max cause Liz to have visions, some of which may be clues to the aliens’ origins, Maria gets jealous and seeks out Michael. But their mashing produces only the usual results.
Heigl, whose character also seeks out a little experimentation before the episode is over, doesn’t seem to know much about the story line. “We’ll talk about that later,” Delfino tells her.
William Sadler, the veteran stage and movie actor who plays Sheriff Valenti, also has a love interest on “Roswell”: Maria’s mother. More important, Valenti is not the standard bad guy.
“That was my big question,” Sadler says. “Where’s this guy going? At the end of every episode, is he going to be standing in the dust, going, `Curses!’ That would’ve gotten old real fast.
“What I’m finding fascinating,” he says of “Roswell,” “is how they’re sewing together the two genres, the “X-Files”-ish suspense and the relationships, the alienated kids finding each other. I have not seen it done anywhere else.”