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'The Event' returns: Is this the most overqualified cast on television?

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Image Credit: Mike Ansell/NBCThe Event returned to NBC last night after three months in dry dock. Plotwise, the show is still a bit of a muddle. The aliens’ motivations are still impenetrably vague — we know where they’re from now, but precisely what they want is still a mystery. (At one point, someone actually said, “I will answer all the questions that you have. BUT FIRST…” Argh, my brain!) Sean and Leila are still on a neverending road trip across America, in search of … something. It’s all a bit wearisome, but The Event is still worth watching, just because the cast is so talented. Last night’s episode added two more accomplished actors into the mix — Roger Bart as the President’s Chief of Staff, and Virgina Madsen as a vaguely Palin-esque Alaskan senator. Considering that The Event already features a nonstop parade of great acting, it’s worth asking: Is this the most overqualified cast on television?

The Event isn’t the only show on television with a cast that’s noticeably better than the material — Rules of Engagement and Mr. Sunshine come to mind — and I suspect that Boardwalk Empire would feel pretty aimless if it weren’t stacked full of Emmy-worthy talent. But the sheer depth of great acting on The Event is astonishing. Blair Underwood and Laura Innes are like gravitas-generating machines. Clifton Collins Jr. makes for a great villain, and Ian Anthony Dale would be a great hero if he weren’t constantly being pushed to the background.

The Sean Walker character makes no sense whatsoever. He’s basically starring in his own mini-show, a stealth remake of The Fugitive. Fortunately, Jason Ritter is such a compelling screen presence that he somehow makes it work. Throw in the essential Zeljko Ivanek and Hal Freakin’ Holbrook, and you can’t help but wish that NBC could just kickstart a new show with the same cast. Maybe a multi-generational family drama, or the coolest cop show on television, or a serialized drama that actually makes one iota of sense.

PopWatchers, did you watch The Event‘s return? Do you agree that the cast seems ridiculously overqualified for the material? Also, am I wrong, or  was Sean was literally re-enacting the Family Guy spoof of the Incredible Hulk end credits towards the end of the episode? (This indicates yet again that The Event might just be an incredibly straight-faced parody of a serialized drama.)

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich