Thanks to okulaja fan for sending this in. It’s an older review, but I hadn’t seen it before!
E.T. High: Roswell
Written by James Koonce, October 7th, 1999
High school is hard. Just ask Max Evans (Jason Behr) – like every other kid,
he’s got midterms to worry about, popularity issues, and a new girl he’s in
pretty deep like with. Of course, unlike most high school students, Max is
also from outer space.
On Roswell, the new drama series from the WB, high school and science
fiction collide. Humans rub shoulders with little green men, aliens become
partners with alienation, and the whole thing is set against the dusty
backdrop of the first purported extraterrestrial crash landing fifty-two
years ago in the middle of the New Mexico desert.
Since the crash when they were mere children (their kind age more slowly
than human folk, accounting for their high school appearances), Max and his
two fellow UFO-riding compadres have clung together, their only remaining
allies following the alien diaspora. And they’ve actually managed to
assimilate pretty well; they’ve slipped under the radar of the locals in
Roswell, living a low-key existence, desperate to find out what happened
half a century ago while keeping their presence as mum as possible. But now
it’s Crash Anniversary time, and freaks are coming out of the woodwork.
Armchair conspiracy buffs and full-on weirdos the world over are making the
pilgrimage to the interplanetary point of contact, and needless to say, it’s
a little tougher for the non-natives to hide.
Even tougher when Max blows their cover. While at a diner, teenaged waitress
and fellow West Roswell High student Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby) takes a
stray bullet fired during an argument between two visiting patrons. Death is
certain for lovely Liz, but breaking every code he and his brethren have
sworn to live by, Max uses his alien powers to save her, drawing the bullet
from her abdomen and out of harm’s way. But he leaves behind a telltale mark
– a silver handprint. And now everyone in Roswell knows what they’ve
suspected all along . We are not alone.
Of course that’s just what Max’s friends never wanted to have happen. But it
doesn’t stop there – Max further attracts the attention of the local sheriff
(William Sadler), whose son coincidentally happens to be Liz’s ersatz
boyfriend, who’s seen the silver handprint, and seen Max with Liz. Not
knowing all the facts, but still thirsty for an alien auto-da-fe, the
sheriff puts the squeeze on Max – how much does he know about what’s going
on? For the others, it’s time to fly. But Max recognizes the value of
standing their ground – if they leave, they prove everyone right, and their
lives will never be the same. But if they stay and weather the storm, they
have a chance of survival.
Liz, naturally, wants some answers. She knows she was shot, yet somehow she
didn’t die. And she knows Max was responsible. Backed into a corner, he
levels with her: let’s just say he’s not from around these parts.
Fortunately, Liz isn’t an ordinary high school girl, she’s� different. (As
Lou Grant would say, she’s got spunk.) Max finds he can trust her. Together
they organize a plan to divert the attentions of the increasingly paranoid
Sheriff, culminating in a climax at the trippy Crash Festival. But they know
it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be back.
Based on a series of young adult novels, Roswell was created by Jason Katims
(who also created the short-lived Gen-X series Relativity) and David Nutter
(late of FOX’s The X-Files). Both know their respective territories pretty
well, and it turns out that teen angst and creepy not-of-this-world science
fiction aren’t the strange bedfellows one might think. The pilot crackles
with intelligence; the teen characters are realistic in a way the kids on
Dawson’s Creek will never be, yet at the same time they can rise to the
challenges before them with adult-like seriousness. Appleby in particular
stands out among the cast. It’s clear that Liz is intrigued by this new
wrinkle in her relationship with Max, but she’s not buying everything
wholesale. She’s curious and wants to know the truth, but she’s still a
young girl. And Max, at once grateful to have someone to open up to and
fearful that he’s endangering his precarious way of life, finds in her a
kind of delicate soulmate. Their time onscreen is what makes the show come
alive. Being chased by sheriffs and suspected of alien origins is certainly
what makes the show go forward, but the core remains the bond growing
between these two.
How long the stories can remain interesting will be the real question; even
The X-Files takes a break from Mulder’s sober quest for close encounters
once in awhile. But fortunately for this show, it has a deep reservoir of
high school life to draw from in order to keep it going: proms, finals,
SAT’s. Can’t you just see it? MTV’s Spring Break Roswell: Alien Getaway.
Now that’s creepy.