'Roswell, New Mexico' 1×01 Review: A Fresh Take On An Old Favorite

Like most people coming into Roswell, New Mexico as fans of the original Roswell, I had my preconceptions about the reboot. I found myself torn between being excited for the revival of one of my favorite WB shows and being nervous about this modern spin.
After all, I’d already grown to love these characters and their stories. I’d already experienced this entire journey. How could I possibly give Roswell, New Mexico a fair shake with all of these thoughts and feelings about the show that inspired the reboot?
But if there was a feeling to describe my experience watching the Roswell, New Mexico pilot it would be a sense of nostalgic freshness. Okay, so that’s a completely made up thing, but that’s exactly how I would describe my feelings watching this.
I found myself watching with fresh eyes — as this world and its characters are new — but also allowed myself moments to feel nostalgic regarding the original. Callbacks — whether it was to Max staring at Liz through the Crashdown window or the first memory sharing or the moment Max chose to save Liz despite every instinct telling him to protect himself and Isobel and Michael first and foremost. And that chemistry. Oh, that chemistry brought back beautiful memories.
The thing I was most concerned with when it came to watching this revival was whether or not I’d find myself constantly comparing it to the original. Finding every little scene and going — Oh, I remember when that happened in the original or This is different than the original where ___ happened.
Sure, that happened for about the first five minutes. But as the hour wore on, I found myself so enamored with this story and these characters that I actually forgot to compare it. And it was a surprising and satisfying feeling.
Roswell, New Mexico has presented a fresh spin on the ‘00s classic where the world that we live in has changed. While the original Roswell still stands on its own today, this reboot feels more representative of the world we live in today where “walls” are more important than federal funding for scientific experiments and where hunting down illegal immigrants and aliens is more of a focus than the crises happening all around.
If this show manages to deliver on the teases that it presented in the pilot — and the continued intricate dynamics of the many relationships introduced — then this is shaping up to be our new favorite.
Let’s break down the thrilling premiere, where we gush about Liz and Max & Michael and Alex, as well as talk family dynamics, this modern spin, and that secret looming over Liz and Max.

A Modern Touch

The thing about Roswell is that regardless of the time it’s a story that manages to feel relevant. Whether it’s in the figurative manner of all of us feeling like an alien and the fear that comes with trying to hide ourselves at one point in our lives or a literal manner where some of us might actually be living in fear as being found out and sent away. The thematic notion is not lost on me, either in the original or this reboot.
Roswell, New Mexico feels like it was introduced at the most opportune time. A time where our country is divided and the man entrusted to lead our country and protect us is so focused on ridding the country of those that don’t belong rather than protecting those that are in this country.
Having Liz be a Latina — and actually be played by an actual Latina — is so significant and yet something that The CW hasn’t always gotten right. Look no further than Charmed, where they twisted words and presentation of diversity in a way that has alienated some audiences.
Having Liz’s father be an undocumented immigrant and the depiction of him going on about his life and how he lives the right way in this country. How this is his home. Because home is not where you come from, it’s where you choose to make your home. You get a sense of the very real situations that many are facing in our country through this storyline that will continue to be explored in what we can only hope is an appropriate and honest manner.
There’s always a question with reboots — can it live up to the original? Can’t you find any original ideas? Why do you have to reboot something that’s already good? All good questions. And certainly all questions I’ve asked before.
But if Roswell, New Mexico feels like a new story it’s because it is a new story. Sure, we know Liz, Max, Isobel, Michael, Maria, and Alex, among others. But these characters, while similar, are different than their original counterparts. It was a completely different story. So I don’t mind at all that we’re getting to see these characters in this new world. I can have my Roswell and my Roswell, New Mexico and binge the hell out of both with pleasure.

Max, Isobel, and Michael Family Dynamic

Characters first, action second. Words to live by. Words to write by. At the root of any good story are the characters and their relationships. While Liz and Max are certainly the focal dynamic of this show, the relationship between Max, Isobel, and Michael is one that has defined these characters and will define this show.
The dynamic is similar to the original and then again it’s not. Instead of these fresh-faced, somewhat carefree teens, we’re introduced to some battle-tested versions of their former selves. Aged by reality. Aged by maturity. Aged by the very real fear that’s escalating around them.
So naturally it’s affected their dynamic in different ways, as the pilot evidenced. While Max and Isobel’s relationship feels like much hasn’t changed since high school, it’s Max and Michael’s dynamic that caught my attention. I don’t like to focus on comparing these two Roswell shows, but I did come into this expecting that same sense of brotherhood between Max and Michael. Instead, there’s a coldness there that’s developed over time as Michael has had to watch Max and Isobel get to be siblings and catch every break in life while he’s been the one struggling on his own. It was something that Michael dealt with in the original, and even just looking at him in this pilot you could feel the animosity.
This show did a lot in its pilot to plant seeds that have the potential to blow these dynamics wide open. Take Isobel’s secret. The fact that, as someone that can slip into someone’s mind and erase memories and make people do things, Isobel was the reason why Liz left after high school without looking back. Just imagining what that’ll do to Max and Isobel’s dynamic is both terrifying and exciting.
As this show continues to evolve, I’m looking forward to exploring more about Max, Isobel, and Michael’s past and how it’s shaped the people they are today. As well as conflict resolution on present and future problems that shall arise.

Be Still My Liz & Max Heart!

It took me all but two minutes before I was immediately struck by the feels. The Liz and Max feels. I didn’t know what to expect exactly. Liz and Max were life back in the day. What if this Liz and Max lacked the chemistry of the original? How would things be different with them being older versions of themselves?
All it took was two minutes, a heated Latina rant about the madness in our world, and a look before I got my answer. The chemistry was instant. My smile was immediate. And I knew then and there that this show had the potential to be great.
While I was nervous about the whole “10 years after high school” thing, I found it pretty easily to grow accustomed to. It presented an intriguing potential to explore the high school past while also living in the present in ways that feel adult.
Not to mention THE CHEMISTRY. THE HEAT. THE FIRE. MY EYES. It felt like I was in junior high again.
Watching Max save Liz after she’s shot. Watching him share his memories of her with her. The longing glances and lingering touches. It’s a wonder I didn’t self combust during the hour.
I have to admit I like that there’s a pre existing relationship with Liz and Max. There’s history. And where there’s history, there’s plenty of stories to uncover and plenty of feelings to play with.
“Fall in love with someone else,” Isobel tells Max. “Anyone else.”
“It’s been 10 years. If I could have, I would have.”
I want to know everything about those 10 years. I want to know everything about these next 10 years, not that I expect that, but you get the point. There’s so much history and so feelings that define their relationship over the years that really makes this the kind of angst that fairy tales are made of.

Chemistry, Thy Name is Michael and Alex

Speaking of HOT CHEMISTRY, say hello to the couple I didn’t know I needed but will from here on forward will require in my life. If there was one part of the original Roswell that I was clinging to it was Michael and Maria. You know, Michael and Maria, aka the couple I didn’t know I needed but from there on forward required in my life. It was the stuff of magic that you can’t force to replicate. So I feel more than okay leaving Michael and Maria to Roswell and exploring the delicious potential that is Michael and Alex.
Seriously, they were H-O-T.
It wasn’t much, but it was enough to garner a section in my review because from here on out I expect there to be Michael and Alex goodies that require a section of gushing. Much like Liz and Max, there’s history there. Not that we were made even remotely aware of that history, like we were Liz and Max, but those final minutes did enough to reward us.
Ten years means history. History means feelings. History means potential for growth. And I’m stoked to see where this show takes Michael and Alex.

Working With The Enemy

While I’m trying to refrain from continuing to use the phrase, “In the original Roswell…” there are certain situations to require it. Such is this moment. So…
In the original Roswell, there’s an immediate suspicion on Sheriff Valenti’s part when it comes to Max Evans being an alien. But it’s more of a one-man mission with Sheriff Valenti leading the charge.
In Roswell, New Mexico, there’s something more pronounced when it comes to revealing this anti-alien task force that runs deep into the government. Not that in the original it wasn’t down to the government — obviously it was. But the pilot did a good job of really raising the stakes and showing the audience that, already, there’s an immediate threat now that Max decided to save Liz and opened the door to questions.
And of course, much like the original (guys, I’m really trying here), Kyle Valenti is at the center of it. After some foreplay that’s cut short by the glowing handprint on Liz’s collarbone, Kyle remembered the words of his father: “If you see the handprint, go to Maines.”
Now, clearly Kyle never thought much of his crazed father’s thoughts regarding aliens. But, as they say, seeing is believing. And seeing that handprint and seeing Liz’s crazed reaction following that night, curiosity is just too much for Kyle. So he goes to Maines, and we begin to see the beginning of what’s sure to be an intense pursuit of Max and surely Isobel and Michael that if it has half of the intensity of the original (again, sorry) will be something thrilling to witness.

Let’s Talk About That Secret…

Because I’m someone that’s watched her fair share of television and movies and read her fair share of books, I knew to expect something big at the end of this pilot. Some kind of big tease that this show would work to pay off or drop like a building on top of us later in the season. And it delivered.
There’s a dark cloud hovering over Liz when it comes to her older sister Rosa, who died and was responsible for the deaths of two other girls a couple years back. It’s a cloud that even follows Liz to her high school reunion.
And I don’t know why I didn’t consider it earlier — especially with the emphasis on Rosa and her death — but there’s something Max is hiding from Liz about Rosa’s death. Something “she can never know,” which is a damn good indicator that Max is somehow involved. Or, even worse, Liz is responsible.

Roswell, New Mexico airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

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