Roswell: Season Three
May 7, 2005
Peter B. Ellis, Allison Leddi-Brown, Patrick R. Norris, William Sadler, Paul Shapiro, ,
Starring: Jason Behr, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fehr, Shiri Appleby, Majandra Delfino, William Sadler, Nick Wechsler, Colin Hanks, Joe Pantoliano, ,
Teenagers. Tantrums. Tabasco.
At the end of last season Tess’ betrayal and psychic murder of classmate Alex were revealed and, carrying Max’s child, she took the alien ship back to their home planet. Just your average Friday night in Roswell, New Mexico then.
The third and final season of the popular teen-alien drama Roswell is another sad case of diminishing returns. Season two explored Max and the gangs’ extra-terrestrial heritage, and going backwards was pretty much the only way to go after their big secret was revealed towards the end of the first run. So where is there left to go? Well, Max, Michael and Isobel seem to have got their special powers licked, and they’ve all got a solid romantic interest, which basically leaves us with second-rate storylines such as the guardian/pilot who was on board their ship when it crash-landed and who is now a successful Hollywood movie producer. Thing is, he’s the only one who could pilot the newly reassembled craft for Max to go after Tess and his son in the episode ‘Secrets and Lies’.
Meanwhile Isobel secretly sees a young lawyer from her father’s practice and is pondering both how to tell her parents she’s engaged, and her fiance that she’s really from ‘up north’. Sheriff Valenti is now unemployed and passes the time with his band The Kit-Shickers, Kyle is training to be a mechanic and while Maria struggles to launch a singing career Liz realizes she is somehow infected and now has special powers as a delayed side-effect of the accident in the Crashdown when Max saved her life. Is that the sound of a barrel being scraped?
The pleasure audiences got from the first two seasons were largely down to the subtle mix of sci-fi and romance. The romance remains in fine form thanks to the appealing leads Behr and Appleby, who have genuine screen chemistry, but the sci-fi element has been ramped up to an eleven and now the aliens are so strong there’s not really any sense of danger because they can take care of themselves. All this could have been forgiven if the writing was up to scratch, but it’s not. All the subtlety of the early themes involving responsibility and relationships have been replaced by blatant spelling-out. So Liz is seen as a rebel by her parents because, hey, she’s discovered black mascara, and Max is ‘edgy’ because he wears a leather jacket circa 1985 and drives a convertible (despite being broke).
Still, even running on empty Roswell remains mildly enjoyable thanks to the odd humorous moment (Michael secretly trying to bowl whilst on a date with Maria) and the high production values (ever notice how locations on TV shows have Christmas decorations extravagant enough to bankrupt a small city? When was the last time you went into Superdrug and saw that kind of flamboyance come December?). The episode ‘I Married An Alien’ is a fun nod to I Dream Of Jeannie, cutting back and forth between real life and Isobel’s 60’s sitcom version of events (Max turns a reporter into a dog), although I don’t remember Larry Hagman saying ‘Duh’.
So this one is for devotees only, and even they would have to admit that if Roswell wasn’t exactly being thrown out of the saloon, it was certainly being handed its hat and gun.
Audio commentaries feature on episodes ‘Secrets And Lies’ and ‘Behind The Music’ from executive producer/director Jonathan Frakes, as well as on the stand-out ‘I Married An Alien’ episode from executive producer/writer Ronald D. Moore, and on the ‘Graduation’ episode from executive producer/writer Jason Katims. The ‘Class Of 2002’ featurette has the cast and crew telling us how how much fun they’re having (ouch) but the previous two boxsets had more extra features and, like the show itself, this DVD feels like it’s been thown together with a little less love.