The WB’s Best Kept Secret

This is an AP story, sent in by Chris Silk. Crashdown got this from the site. Go look at the original at this link, it has new pics of Brendan and Shiri!

The WB’s best-kept secret, ‘Roswell,’ gets new time slot

Friday, April 14, 2000

By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES � Once upon a time there was a critically acclaimed television show, an ahead-of-its-time teen angst drama called “My So-Called Life.”

Low ratings killed it. Then its writer gave birth to an adult version � “Relativity.” It suffered the same fate.

Both shows were forerunners of this season’s spate of teen and adult dramas.

Now, Jason Katims, who brought those two intelligent shows to television, is at it again, with “Roswell” � a “My So-Called Life”-meets-“The X-Files” drama based on the “Roswell High” book series by Melinda Metz about the fabled 1947 spaceship crash in New Mexico.

The problem: One of the most fun and well-written shows about teen-agers on television this season is in danger of being cut from the WB’s lineup. Now it’s being aired Mondays in a new time slot (9 p.m. EDT) against Fox’s “Ally McBeal.”

Come on, WB. There are at least five reasons to renew it.

Reason 1: The team of Katims and “X-Files” veteran David Nutter.

The two have put together a show that proves that teens are indeed an alien breed � long-suffering, confusing, a bit hysterical yet resilient. Katims and Nutter also have threaded an intelligent alien conspiracy through the show, using a proven formula popular with “X-Files” audiences.

“With ‘Roswell,’ we can tell a story about people trying to find who they are in this world with life-and-death stakes, stories that have a largeness,” Katims said.

For example, in a recent episode one of the three teen aliens (played by 22-year-old newcomer Brendan Fehr) is beaten by his alcoholic foster father � a real bad guy � who keeps him around for the monthly check. Between a rock and no place, the teen makes a choice that frees him from the beatings but leaves him out in the cold � literally. From there, it’s all about making the right choices and living with the consequences.

Of course, the bad guy gets it in the end from a mysterious alien shape-shifter.

Reason 2: Executive producer Jonathan Frakes.

A “Star Trek: The Next Generation” veteran, Frakes knows something about compelling sci-fi, not to mention first-season ratings struggles.

“If we had listened to everybody that first season on ‘Next Generation,’ it wouldn’t have survived,” he said. “The key to both shows � ‘Next Generation’ and ‘Roswell’ � is that although both deal with outer space and aliens, the shows are really about relationships � loyalty, friendship, commitment.”

Reason 3: The cast.

Jason Behr, 26, and Shiri Appleby, 21, star as out-of-this-world soul mates, supported by a strong ensemble with Fehr, Majandra Delfino, 19, Katherine Heigl, 21, and Colin Hanks, 22.

If they seem a little young, they have the adult supervision of the often underrated William Sadler (“Shawshank Redemption”).

Like the characters they play, the “Roswell” actors know they are in it together, for better or worse. They’ve been seen, sans Sadler, around town bowling, going to dinner and, at least in one case, doing karaoke together (“Pretty cheesy, but fun,” says Behr).

Heigl (“My Father, the Hero”) says part of the reason the chemistry works on the show is the off-screen chemistry.

“There’s a dynamic there that extends beyond the set,” she said. “It’s not often you get to work with a bunch of people you really like. They are really good at what they do.”

Frakes publicly compares this cast to that of the “Next Generation.”

“When we first started ‘Next Generation,’ the only person in the cast anyone had heard of was LeVar Burton,” Frakes recalled. “The cast of ‘Roswell’ reminds me a lot of us when we were first starting out on ‘Next Generation’ � excited about it.”

Reason 4: The fans.

Forget Nielsen ratings and look to the target audience, the ones who have helped establish “Roswell” as a cult favorite on the Internet with more than 100 Web sites referring to the show (two dozen popping up last month alone), praising everything from the cast’s out-of-this-world good looks to the supposed alien conspiracy in our midst.

Reason 5: “Roswell” is simply better than most anything else in prime-time these days. Especially those millionaire shows.

So WB, what’s the final answer?


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