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The plot thickens in WB's 'Roswell'

Friday, April 21, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

The promise of "Roswell" (9 p.m. Monday on WCWB) has always exceeded its execution. Teen-agers who are really aliens, what better melding of two forms of alienation could there be? But after the first 20 minutes of the pilot, the show became a slow, murky soap similar to every other series on The WB. That's beginning to change.

In the past "Roswell" was too talky with little forward momentum. Now things are actually beginning to happen.

The "Roswell" producers have said they want the show to be more "X-Files," less "Dawson's Creek." Mission accomplished, but maybe a little too well.

Recent "Roswell" episodes have focused more on the show's mythology and the secrets behind the alien kids, but it also seems to be cribbing from "X-Files" with talk of shape shifters and government conspiracies. At least it's more interesting. The addition of Tess (Emilie De Ravin), a trouble maker with eyes for Max, has enlivened both the teen tension and the aliens' quest. Is she one of them?

Swissvale native David Conrad joins the cast May 1 for a three-episode stint, but he can't discuss his character (it's a surprise). Conrad starred in the 1996-1997 ABC drama "Relativity." "Roswell" executive producer Jason Katims was a co-executive producer and writer for that show.

"Jason and I had always talked about working together," Conrad said in a phone interview this week. "['Roswell' executive producer] Jonathan Frakes directed the middle episode and the ones on the outside were directed by a guy who did a lot of 'Relativity' episodes. It was a nice set. People got along and had fun."

Katims, who plans to buy a house in Pittsburgh while commuting to Los Angeles, is waiting to hear whether Fox picks up "L.A. Confidential" (based on the movie) for next fall. Next month he'll star in the play "Three Days of Rain" at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. Call 412-521-8011, ext. 849 for details.

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