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TV Series Review

Lots of folks are worried about illegal aliens, including some folks in the small New Mexico town of Roswell. One podcaster who hangs out at the local diner seems particularly put out by the possibility the hamlet might be overrun. "Aliens are going to rape and murder and steal our jobs!" he fumes.

'Course, the aliens this guy's talking about wouldn't be stopped by a hypothetical border wall: They'd just fly right over it. In fact, they already have.

Way Too Close Encounters

Most of us know, of course, that Roswell was the site of the most famous alleged alien visitation ever back in 1947—a little extraterrestrial stopover that the government initially seemed to confirm before quickly denying it. Folks have been speculating madly ever since.

For Liz Ortecho, the speculation is over. Turns out, her high-school beau, Max, was one of 'em—not little or green at all, but big and burly and attractively unshaven. Seems he and his kin—no-nonsense sis Isobel and perpetually brooding wild child Michael—had crashed to earth in 1947, gestated in intergalactic eggs for a good 50 years or so, then popped out as fully formed, rather clueless humans.

Found wandering down the road as toddlers, they were swiftly swept up by social services and just as swiftly adopted. (Or, at least, Isobel and Max were.) They quickly undertook to assimilate, and they've been assimilating ever since. Better that than being shipped back to the Pentagon for some quality dissection time.

But ever since Liz learned their secret (and swapped interplanetary spittle with Max to boot), life for the aliens has gotten a little less certain. Seems the dastardly U.S. government never stopped searching for the survivors of the 1947 crash. A master sergeant at the base is particularly zealous. "They despise compassion, despise freedom and love, and they feed off our tragedy!" he blusters about the aliens. "They are at their very core killers!" So best kill them first, right?

He's wrong about the compassion thing, of course. Liz knows that. She knows that these galactic tourists like them some lovin,' too. All kinds of lovin', in fact.

But while Liz has all sorts of reasons to like her alien pals better than most of the humans in Roswell, those intergalactic siblings haven't told her everything just yet. Some secrets hide behind Max's very human eyes. Clearly, Liz might just have to get to … probing.

The Sex Files

In a fragmented television landscape, The CW feels like it's found the formula for, if not breakout success, at least continued viability. It can be summed up by what I'm now calling the three S's: soap, sex and the supernatural.

The CW never met a Halloween monster it didn't try to turn into a teenage heartthrob. Vampires, ghosts and witches have all gotten Gen Z makeovers here, and most have found their romantic inclinations—and libidos—set to overdrive. Super-silly plots and overwrought relationships blend with superhuman powers in CW's perpetual quest for ratings zinc. No need to mess with a good formula when you've found it, the suits at the network's home office seem to believe.

But while Roswell keeps the template intact, it does slather on another layer or two.

First, it's worth noting that Roswell is pointedly political, attempting to tie the plight of the show's intergalactic aliens with the real-world issues that dominate today's headlines. (Liz, with her Latino background, suffers bigotry of her own in the small town, thus making the already-obvious parallels unmistakable. Indeed, the talented doctor/scientist was forced back to Roswell because her funding was cut. Why? "Because somebody needs money for a wall," she says.)

And even in the CW's perpetually salacious confines, Roswell feels particularly libertine. In the very first episode, Isobel's shown engaged in an S&M game (admittedly with her presumed husband), and Michael smooches a former same-sex flame of his. Forget ostentatious displays of wealth: Sex is Roswell's currency, and people spend and flaunt it with abandon.

Roswell, New Mexico and the CW feel like a perfect fit for each other. A fit for the family? This is one show you might want to hope flies away as mysteriously as it came, never to be seen again.

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Episode Reviews

Jan. 15, 2019: "Pilot"



Readability Age Range




Jeanine Mason as Liz Ortecho; Lily Cowles as Isobel Evans-Bracken; Nathan Parsons as Max Evans; Heather Hemmens as Maria DeLuca; Rosa Arredondo as Sheriff Valenti; William Greely as Sheriff Deputy Andrews; Michael Vlamis as Michael Guerin; Tyler Blackburn as Alex Manes; Michael Trevino as Kyle Valenti; Trevor St. John as Jesse Manes






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On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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