Jason KatimsRoswell

Teenage Alienation – Jason Katims

This is an article I got about a week and a half ago from Kate who’s a Tribune writer for the company. If you want to pass along thank yous to her for writing the article, let me know and I’ll pass the mail onto her.

Chack out what she put at the bottom-and she doesn’t even know I’m involved with the site ;)

by Kate O’Hare

TEENAGE ALIENATION … Believe it or not, almost everyone – and this includes buff football heroes and beautiful cheerleaders – feels alienated at some point in their adolescence. But for the teens of the WB’s “Roswell,” the main difference is that they feel alienated because they are, well, aliens, or at least human teens in love with aliens.

The one-hour series, which has been airing on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. (Eastern), is based on “Roswell High,” the first novel in a series of young- adult books by Melinda Metz. The story centers on three teens with a deep, dark secret – they look human but are really aliens, survivors of the fabled 1947 spaceship crash near Roswell, N.M. But when one of the teens, Max, falls for a classmate named Liz and saves her life, the secret is out … at least to Liz.

Jason Behr plays Max; Katherine Heigl plays Max’s sister, Isabel; and Brendan Fehr plays the third alien teen, Michael. Shiri Appleby plays Liz; Majandra Delfino and Colin Hanks are Liz’s pals, Maria and Alex; Nick Weschler plays Liz’s ex-boyfriend, Kyle; and William Sadler plays Kyle’s father, a suspicious local sheriff.

One of the show’s executive producers (along with “Star Trek: The Next
Generation” star Jonathan Frakes, David Nutter, Kevin Kelly Brown and Lisa J. Olin) is Jason Katims, a writer/producer whose credits include “Relativity” and the acclaimed teen drama “My So-Called Life.”

“Roswell” has been struggling in the ratings up against NBC’s surging new drama “The West Wing” and UPN’s science-fiction staple “Star Trek: Voyager.” On April 10, “Roswell” hops to Monday nights at 9 p.m. (Eastern), airing after “7th Heaven.”

“It gives us an opportunity to get the `Voyager’ audience,” says Katims,
“which is good. As we’ve been moving further along into the season, the
science-fiction elements of the show have become more prominent and more important. So we feel that there’s a real potential audience there, and we might not be getting all of it because of `Voyager,’ so that’s one reason why I’m excited about it.

“The other thing is, we’re going behind `7th Heaven,’ and it’s the most-
watched show on the WB right now. I’m very hopeful about it.”

Katims knows about working on a show with critical support but low numbers, having lived through the “My So-Called Life” experience. While that series made a big star out of Claire Danes, playing a sensitive high-schooler, and ran almost ad infinitum in reruns on MTV, it languished during its brief ABC run in 1994-’95. What lessons has Katims brought from that show to “Roswell”?

“My experience there is something that I always bring to whatever I’m
working on,” he says. “To me, it was a lot about trying to find the truth of how people are when they interact with each other. In this thing, what’s similar to `My So-Called Life’ is it’s about outsiders who are teenagers, trying to find a place in the world.

“What’s different is, this is a show that has metaphor at the center of it.
It’s about, as teens, how we’re all aliens. It’s about that alienation. Because it’s based on a metaphor, like in `Buffy,’ you get to play much bigger stories and bigger storylines, more life-and-death stories, more fanciful storylines.”

One of the seductive aspects of working in science fiction, fantasy and
horror is that the issues are larger, often literally life, death and the future of humanity. For a writer used to dealing with the smaller dramas of real life, this can be liberating.

“Not only can you do that,” says Katims, “but a show like `Roswell’
demands that you do shows with enormous storylines, stories about finding other aliens, stories about their lives being in danger, and stories about falling in love with a different species.”

Is Katims, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, drawing on his own high-school memories?

“My high-school experience? Yeah, there were a lot of aliens there, and I think I was one of them.

“Everybody’s an outsider on the show, and that, to me, is unfortunately my experience of high school, feeling different and isolated, trying to find those moments of connection.”

Connection is also what Max, Isabel and Michael are seeking, as they have spent much of the first season trying to find the fourth alien who apparently survived the 1947 Roswell crash, a deadly shape-shifter with an unknown agenda. When the show moves to Monday nights on April 10, that signals the beginning, says Katims, of a six-episode arc that closes out season one.

“What we’re going to do is lead to a climax at the end of the first season that shows us that the world out there is much larger and more dangerous than they thought it was. That’s what they discover at the end of the season. There are still questions and things you want to know, but there will also be a lot of answers.

“The second season will be about them dealing with the fact that there’s
more out there than any of them thought.”

At press time, the WB had not net announced whether “Roswell” would be renewed for fall.

CYBERSPATIAL ANOMALIES … Fan Forum (http://www.fanforum.com/) operates a number of sites and forums for shows popular with younger viewers, including “CrashDown: The Roswell Experience” (http://crashdown.com/), which features episode guides, links, spoilers, fan fiction, news, articles and bios of cast members. Other shows features on Fan Forum include “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Dawson’s Creek.”