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Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1999-2002). Created by Jason Katims, based on the book series by Melinda Metz and Laura J Burns. Producers include Katims, Ronald D Moore, and Jonathan Frakes. Directors include Patrick R Norris, Paul Shapiro, and Frakes. Writers include Katims, Moore, and Thania St. John. Cast includes Shiri Appleby as Liz Parker, Jason Behr as Max Evans, Katherine Heigl as Isabel Evans, Brendan Fehr as Michael Guerin, Majandra Delfino as Maria DeLuca, Nick Wechsler as Kyle Valenti, Colin Hanks as Alex Whitman, and William Sadler as Sheriff Jim Valenti. 61 one-hour episodes.

Loosely based on the Young Adult book series Roswell High, by Melinda Metz and Laura J Burns, Roswell attempted to cash in on the Alien craze sparked by The X-Files (1993-2002), and on an audience whose taste for genre-inflected teenage melodrama was whetted, but not sated, by Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). Set in the titular town, the site of an alleged UFO crash in 1947, the series begins with teenager Liz Parker discovering that her shy, quiet, lovestruck schoolfellow Max Evans, his twin sister Isabel, and their friend Michael Guerin are all Aliens. The three emerged from stasis pods (see Stasis Field) as children and were adopted by human parents, but as they approach maturity they begin to manifest powers – Telepathy, Telekinesis, the ability to heal their own injuries and the injuries of others – and to draw the attention of earthly powers, as well as representatives of their home planet. It finally emerges that the three are Clones of the deposed royal family of an alien planet, sent to Earth to grow up safe from their enemies until such time as they can return and claim the throne. Both alien and human characters find themselves torn between their warring desires to live a normal, human life and to embrace the weirdness of their, or their friends', heritage – will Max, for example, choose his designated alien consort Tess – future Lost (2004-2010) star Emilie de Ravin – over the human Liz, and will Liz go off to college rather than helping Max fight his alien foes? Neither as scary as The X-Files (1993-2002), nor as clever as Buffy, and burdened with silly scripts and a uniformly wooden cast, Roswell nevertheless gained a modest success, including several tie-in novels; but its afterlife has been deservedly brief. It presaged the mid-2000s craze for fantastic teenage romance, probably to its own detriment – it is easy to imagine Twilight fans lapping up Max and Liz's doomed romance (as well as the one between Michael and Liz's best friend Maria, and between Isabel and a succession of human males) – though teenagers accustomed to modern standards of overwrought star-crossed romance may find it a little dry. [AN]

see also: Area 51.


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