REVIEW: ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO – SEASON 1

Roswell, New Mexico (2019)

Starring

Jeanine Mason (The Archer)
Nathan Parsons (The Originals)
Michael Vlamis (VlamCarter)
Lily Cowles (Enchantments )
Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars)
Heather Hemmens (Hellcats)
Michael Trevino (The Vampire DIaries)
Trevor St. John (The Bourne Ultimatum)
Karan Oberoi (Overruled!)

Nathan Parsons and Jeanine Mason in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Carlos Compean (Contraband)
Rosa Arredondo (Still Alice)
Amber Midthunder (Legion)
Peter Diseth (Better Call Saul)
Matthew Van Wettering (12 Strong)
Riley Voelkel (The Originals)
Dylan McTee (The Wind)
Jessica Treska (Sharp Objects)
Sherri Saum (Sunset Beach)
Claudia Black (Stargate SG.1)
Sonya Balmores (Inhumans)
Kayla Ewell (The Vampire Diaries)
Kiowa Gordon (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)

Michael Trevino and Jeanine Mason in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)Roswell, New Mexico. It’s one of those places so iconic, so singularly famous for one specific thing that it doesn’t even warrant an explanation. Back in 1999, it was the show that launched the careers of Shiri Appleby, Katherine Heigl, Colin Hanks , and several other faces you know, even if their names are less familiar, like Nick Wechsler (Revenge, Dynasty), Brendan Fehr (Bones, Wynonna Earp), and Emilie de Ravin (Lost). And now, 20 years and a few changes later, it’s back.Nathan Parsons in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)Notably, Roswell, New Mexico isn’t a sequel to 1999’s Roswell. Even though everyone is roughly 10 years older, and the original show took place 10 years ago, these events–namely the inciting incidents of Liz’s (Jeanine Mason) death and revival and the trio of aliens revealing themselves–are all taking place for the very first time. The aliens still arrived in the 1940s and entered the community as children due to some woo-woo hand wave alien stuff, but in this version they’ve managed to keep their true species a secret that entire time, implausible though that may be if you’ve ever met a teenager.Michael Vlamis in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)You’d be forgiven if, when watching, you thought you were caught in a time loop, or having déjà vu. It’s all there–Liz’s voiceover, this version of the legend of Roswell’s aliens, the Crashdown café, the suspicious sheriff; Liz is even wearing the exact same uniform at the Crashdown, and so far there’s heavy overlap on the soundtracks. There’s boy scout Max Evans (Nathan Parsons, The Originals), his overprotective Type-A sister Isobel (Lily Cowles, BrainDead), and their smart but troubled bad boy fellow alien Michael (Michael Vlamis, New Girl), whose time on Earth hasn’t been quite as charmed.Nathan Parsons and Jeanine Mason in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)Like many pilots, this one is rather overstuffed. Science fiction and fantasy shows have the added task of not only telling you a story, but building a world or explaining power sets. As a result, the second episode of Roswell is much more successful than the first one, so  stick around for it and the rest of the season, as the show gets better as it gets along.Michael Vlamis and Lily Cowles in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)The pilot is mostly a paint by numbers affair, but there are a few updates, like when a conspiracy theorist podcaster references Beyoncé and the Illuminati. The older protagonists helpfully allow for all the steamy sex and bar scenes the CW loves, without all the questions as to who, exactly, is supervising a bunch of 16-year-olds who rarely seem to attend school. And things start off a little differently: Max fell for Liz Ortecho, who kicks things off with her return to town after 10 years away. Ten years ago, Liz’s sister Rosa (Amber Midthunder, Legion, Hell or Highwater) was killed in a car accident, which many see as her fault since she used drugs and two others died in the same accident, but it’s clear from the jump that there’s more to this story.Heather Hemmens and Jeanine Mason in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)The biggest difference is that Liz and her family are immigrants (her father is undocumented) and her sister is dead, a death in which Max and co. apparently had some involvement. Story-wise, this opens up some avenues. First, adding the immigration element makes the story feel urgent and contemporary, and sets up parallels between Liz and Max. Both of them have to protect their families from the U.S. government, and both have secrets to keep and stigma to fight. Viewers of the original series can likely surmise additional, spoiler-y connections.Nathan Parsons and Jeanine Mason in Roswell, New Mexico (2019)Second, Rosa places an obstacle between Liz and Max’s love story that’s a bit more appealing. It’s unclear what, exactly, is going on here, but Max obviously has secrets about Rosa. Secrets he doesn’t ever want Liz to know. The next episode will tease this out more, but for that kind of tension in the central pair is a good thing and helps make this a more adult show with adult disagreements. Finally, in this version, Liz is not the beloved hometown girl. In fact, she faces racist slurs and hate crimes.The CW has been among the more progressive networks for a while now, routinely casting diverse casts and including queer characters, even if they still have a lot to learn. Shows like Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Supergirl have regularly taken on heady, “controversial” topics, including immigration, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. And yet, seeing ICE and racism called out directly on television still feels bold, especially at a time when most elected officials aren’t willing to do the same.There are familiar beats here, even in the new material–sex with the ex in a car outside a bar is hardly innovative. If the premise and progressive racial politics of the show appeal to you at all, stick around for the next couple of episodes of Roswell before you decide whether to jump ship.

REVIEW: THE ROOMMATE

 

CAST

Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl)
Minka Kelly (500 Days of Summer)
Cam Gigandet (Easy A)
Aly Michalka (Izombie)
Danneel Ackles (Fired Up!)
Frances Fisher (Titanic)
Tomas Arana (Gladiator)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Matt Lanter (90210)
Kat Graham (Honey 2)
Nathan Parsons (The Originals)

Sara Matthews (Kelly) is starting her freshman year of college. She meets Tracy (Michalka), Stephen (Gigandet) – her love interest, and Rebecca (Meester) – her college roommate, the girls begin to bond and Rebecca learns that Sara had an older sister, Emily, who died when Sara was 9, and an ex-boyfriend, Jason (Lanter), who keeps calling her in attempts to reconcile. As time goes on, Rebecca’s obsession with Sara grows, which causes her to drive away anyone who could come between them.Rebecca attacks Tracy in the shower, pinning her down and ripping out her belly-button ring, and threatens to kill her unless she stays away from Sara. Tracy moves to another dorm, fearful of Rebecca. An old friend of Sara’s named Irene (Harris), who is a lesbian, invites Sara to move in with her when Sara’s cat Cuddles is discovered. Rebecca then kills Cuddles by putting her in the dryer. She then lies to Sara that the cat ran away. Rebecca then inflicts injuries upon herself and says she was assaulted by a thug. Sara feels bad for her and decides to spend the Thanksgiving with Rebecca. When Sara’s philandering fashion design professor, Roberts (Zane), kisses her, Rebecca plans to get the professor out of the picture by seducing him while recording their dialogue on a tape recorder to make it sound like he was trying to rape her.During her stay, Sara overhears a conversation between Rebecca and her father (Arana), hinting Rebecca has had trouble making friends in the past. Rebecca’s mother (Fisher) mentions that Rebecca is supposed to be taking medication. She and Stephen later find a bottle of Zyprexa pills, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But the bottle is full, implying that Rebecca hasn’t been taking the pills. Sara, worried about what would happen, decides to move in with Irene. Irene goes to a club where she sees Rebecca. They make out in the club’s bathroom and Irene, not knowing that Rebecca is Sara’s roommate, takes Rebecca back to her place. The following morning, Sara goes to Irene’s apartment but she’s not there.Rebecca gets Sara’s sister’s name tattooed in the same place on her breast as Sara, saying that Sara can now think of Rebecca as her sister. A shocked Sara realizes that Rebecca is obsessed with her and packs all her things, except her sister’s necklace, which she can’t find (being later revealed that the necklace had been stolen from her by Rebecca). Jason arrives at Sara’s dorm and slips a note under her door, saying that he wants to see her. Rebecca reads the note, impersonates Sara with her sister’s necklace and tattoo, and dyes her hair to look like Sara. She then goes to Jason’s hotel room and stabs him to death.Later, Sara gets a text from Irene, saying she needs her right away. Sara informs Stephen she will be at Irene’s place. When she gets there, she finds Irene held hostage by Rebecca with a revolver. Rebecca reveals that she was responsible for what happened to Tracy, Cuddles, Professor Roberts, and Jason and that she did it all to win Sara’s friendship. Rebecca wants to kill Irene in order to finally have Sara all to herself. Stephen arrives just in time to help stop Rebecca from pulling the trigger on Irene. Sara reaches for the revolver to shoot Rebecca, however, the cartridge is empty. Enraged at this, Rebecca picks up Sara and tries to strangle her to death, but Sara stabs Rebecca in the back with a boxcutter, which kills her.Sara moves back into her dorm and moves the extra bed out of her room with the help of her boyfriend Stephen, proclaiming that she does not want a roommate for a while.This is a fairly enjoyable, though predictable, thriller, very much in the style of Single White Female (Bridget Fonda. It’s an average thriller that will pass the time.