Roswell High : season 1 review


22 50 minute episodes

SF elements

teenage aliens


Unfairly dismissed by some as " X Files meets Dawson's Creek ", this is the surprise find of 2000.

Liz, a bright high school student, is accidentally shot and killed while working as a waitress in The Crashdown, her parents' cafe in Roswell. But the mysterious Max brings her back to life, heals her, then runs off. Gradually we discover that Max, his sister Isabelle, and their friend Michael, are actually aliens. But they are stranded, living in fear of discovery, and don't know where they come from, or who they are. As the series unfolds, we discover along with them more of their background, as they try to avoid discovery by the suspicious Sheriff Valenti, and the FBI.

This gradually unfolding story is done very well, and manages to confound many cliches along the way. It constantly appears to be becoming a standard "teen angst" story, yet constantly twists off in different directions. We are never quite sure who the good guys or the bad guys are. And it manages quite a lot of subtle humour, contrasting the nutty alien-hysteria in Roswell with the real alien story (and the episode Into the Woods is has some beautifully farcical scenes).

The teens themselves are satisfyingly intelligent and mature: living with a problem so much bigger than the latest boyfriend/girlfriend misunderstanding does help. For example, in the episode Tess, Lies and Video Tapes , the scene where Liz confronts Tess about Max at first appears cliched, but is not what it seems, and the way Max then rescues Liz is brilliant.

The build-up is gradual and rather dreamy, and by the end of the season we are left with a genuinely exciting cliffhanger. [Well, the penultimate episode ends on a cliffhanger, at least. The BBC, in its usual infinite wisdom where SF is concerned, have decided not to show the season one finale until the beginning of season two, in autumn 2001]

Rating: 3

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 10 February 2001