After 20 years, the CW decided to revisit an old favorite of mine — Roswell — and of course I had to watch. There was no choice, really. The original series is one of the few shows I own, in its entirety, on DVD. So, how did the CW do?
I’m split right down the middle. There are things I enjoyed, and things I hated.
Whenever you reboot an old favorite, you run the risk of undermining whatever made the show work in the first place. For original Roswell, the chemistry between Lix and Max was off the charts. They popped. They sizzled. They made me want to fall in love with them.
Whoever was in charge of casting decisions made a BIG mistake when it came to Max. Nathan Parsons is too brash, too gruff, and just plain too loud. He doesn’t represent any of the underlying vulnerabilities that made the original Mac character so easy to love. He comes across more like a bully in this reboot, with little depth or subtlety. I was so disappointed in him, and honestly wish they’d do a Darren Stevens for Season 2. I won’t mind. Really.
But putting that aside, the CW did make some decisions that, after thinking it through, I liked. Aging the characters up ten years worked, in my opinion, because it gave them more agency than their high school counterparts had, and more power to act both personally and professionally. The main characters themselves became more tightly interwoven into the plot; instead of needing adults to take on most of the adversarial roles, they were the adults and the bad guys were less black and white.
In growing up the characters, I felt like they also grew up the plot. The show felt less magical and more science ficitiony, which I appreciated. Every decision they made in terms of switching around the alien backstory and redefining the science worked, and demonstrated that the underlying concept had more untapped potential than I realized two decades ago.
Even though I didn’t care for Max, I did like that he was a cop. I liked that Kyle was a doctor — it gave him a far better role than he had originally. Alex was a soldier, Maria a psychic bartender, and Liz grew up to be the biologist we always knew she could be. Everyone grew up into a position that made them more capable and integral.
Michael was my favorite character in the original series. Yes, Max and Liz’s chemistry was great, but Michael had more demons and it made him inherently more interesting to watch. His and Mari’s relationship compelled me more than the main one ever did.
Which was why I was a disappointed when they showed, in the first episode, that he and Alex had been lovers. In part, I confess, I didn’t catch on to them making him bisexual stead of homosexual (I apologize profusely for my binary view of the world; well played). But at first, when I thought Michael and Maria weren’t going to happen, I was really bummed. And then, when it turned out they were going to do a triangle, I was…just confused. I don’t really get it, and I don’t mean the sexuality aspect. I’m not clear on what is drawing any of these characters to one another, and what might make Michael choose Alex over Maria. (The possibility that he doesn’t choose, but instead makes it work with both, crossed my mind, but the world doesn’t seem quite ready for that kind of relationship.)
Overall, I thought they did a good job. Maybe not the reboot I would have written, but nobody asked me! I definitely plan to watch season 2.