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Cult Times #55
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)   Shiri Appleby and Jason Behr ©Sue Schneider/ Moonglow Photos
All you'll ever need to know!  

The Premise: Ten years ago three aliens emerged from pods left by the Roswell crash in 1947. Apparently just abandoned six-year-old children, Max and Isabel were adopted by the Evans as brother and sister, and Michael was taken in by Hank Whitmore. They kept their true identity a secret until the present day when Max heals Liz Parker after she’s shot at the local café.

Romance blossoms between the pair, and as Max’s secret spreads to Liz’s small circle of friends, the newly-formed group set out to investigate the aliens’ origins while avoiding the attention of the authorities.

Background: Based on a range of books called Roswell High by Melinda Metz, it was developed into a TV series by Jason Katims and David X-Files Nutter. The WB, having had success with teen drama such as Dawson’s Creek and Buffy, immediately commissioned a full season. Titled Roswell in the US, it's Roswell High for international sales - hence its title on Sky One.

First Run: 6th October 1999, on the WB.

Number of Episodes: So far, one season of 22 episodes. Worried Roswell fans in the US are lobbying the WB to renew the series for the 2000-01 season (unconfirmed to date) - see below.

Good Guys: The aliens: Max Evans (Jason Behr), Michael Garron (Brendan Fehr) and Isabel Evans (Katherine Heigl). Their human friends: Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby), Maria DeLuca (Majandra Delfino), Alex Whitman (Colin Hanks). Plus: Native American wise man River Dog (Ned Romero); Max and Isabel’s Mum, Diane Evans (Mary Ellen Trainor). So far, Milton Ross (Steve Hytner), Max’s boss and the curator of the UFO museum has shown no signs of allegiance one way or the other.

Bad Guys: Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler), and possibly his son Kyle (Nick Wechsler) who Liz ditched to go out with Max; also undercover FBI agent Kathleen Topolsky (Julie Benz, Buffy’s vampire Darla).

And Isn’t That... Most famously Jonathan Frakes, a producer on the series, who also makes guest appearances as himself in the pilot and The Convention. Jason Behr was already well known as Chris Wolfe in Dawson’s Creek, and William Sadler had a regular role as Sloan, the head of Section 31, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Overdone Clichés : It’s surprisingly convenient how the three aliens and three humans neatly pair off. Arguments about whether someone new should be let in on the secret get a little repetitive too.

Fashion Statements: Nothing particularly outlandish about the way the aliens dress, although Liz wears UFO gear when working as a waitress at the Crashdown Café. The series keeps itself in vogue with its ‘college music’ soundtrack.

  Out of this World

A good start to the series, introducing Liz and Max to us and each other. Valenti is on their case straight away, this episode remaining his best participation so far.

285 South
Michael sets out to investigate a dome in the desert with his friends, Valenti and Topolsky in hot pursuit. Lots of action, and Michael and Maria’s bickering provide some nice comic touches.

The Toy House
Max uses his powers to save his Mum from a fire. Isabel wants to tell her the truth… but is that really a good idea?

Crash and Burn

All the episodes are of a consistently high standard, but of the first half of the season, Leaving Normal could possibly stand criticism on the basis that nothing much happens besides deliberations over Max and Liz’s relationship.

Broadcast details (UK) and Links

Roswell High
Sky One - Thursday until 13th April, (returns in May) 20.00

Want to take part in the campaign to renew Roswell? Got a spare bottle of tabasco sauce handy?

There's an extensive run-down on the campaign here:
How to Save Roswell.

Also a section on the excellent Roswell Experience site.

Richard Atkinson

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Photo © Sue Schneider / Moonglow Photos Feature © Visual Imagination 2000.
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