NBC’s official slogan these days is “More Colorful,” but for the fall, the network’s unofficial mantra may actually be “Less Confusing.” Sure, the Peacock’s got The Event, a big conspiracy thriller with elements of 24, Lost, and (maybe) Heroes. It’s also debuting Undercovers, a new spy drama from professional audience torturer J.J. Abrams. And yet, producers and actors involved with both shows really, really want you to know nothing about their respective projects will make your head hurt. At all.
The folks behind The Event didn’t go so far as to call their show 24 for Dummies, but during a session with reporters during NBC’s portion of the TCA Press Tour Friday, they were relentlessly on-message about the virtues of simplicity. “We don’t want to end up on a show that drives people crazy,” star Laura Innes declared, prompting creator Nick Wauters to quickly chime in with his own guarantee of fulfillment. “I want to keep people hungry, but not frustrate them,” he said, adding that “you’ll have more immediate answers to your questions.” Oh, and in addition to being easy-to-understand, The Event also won’t bum you out the way 24 sometimes did with all that torturing and stuff. “This show will not be as dark,” vows Event producer (and reformed 24 showrunner) Evan Katz. “One of the things I regret about 24 is that it got so foreboding.”
Okay, but couldn’t all this user-friendliness result in a show that’s just a little to eager to please? Heroes, after all, also made sure to resolve mysteries quickly — so quickly, in fact, that by the end of season one, there wasn’t much left to care about. Event producer Steven Stark has anticipated that possibility, too: He says there’s a bible for the show that ensures at least three seasons of plot twists and turns.
Undercovers, meanwhile, won’t even try to raise questions or start mysteries. Despite Abrams’s involvement, creator Josh Reims says he has no desire to explore any sort of mythology for his super-sexy spies. “The first thing [J.J. and Reims] talked about was how neither one of us wanted to do Alias,” Reims says. “I thought it was one of the most confusing shows ever. When I was on Felicity, we’d pass the Alias writers in the halls, and they looked confused and angst-ridden. I didn’t want to do that.” Guess this means Jennifer Garner won’t be making cameos on Undercovers.