Our delightful redux of the celebrated 80s mini-series starts off with a question: Where were you when JFK was shot? Watching Mad Men, obviously. And then another question: Where were you on 9/11? In New York City, nothing funny about that. And then another: Where were you this morning? Well, since you asked...I woke up in a gutter in Dubai, which isn't as bad it sounds because in Dubai, gutters are lined with down comforters and masseuses. It is 6:30 in the morning and our trusty leading FBI agent is still in bed. What, our tax dollars can't pay you to get up by 6 a.m.? Crime doesn't sleep, agent, and neither should you. Where's your work ethic, missy? This is America and you are her representative. Elizabeth Mitchell (more notably known as Juliet from Lost) plays the lazy narcoleptic FBI agent and she only deigns to open her eyes when the bed starts a-rockin'. She wakes up and goes to ask her son if he felt (or caused) the tremor. He is a boy after all. Unfortunately, her son is not there to play scapegoat so Ms. Mitchell should investigate her own diet (and maybe re-consider picking the tostada bar at the Sizzler for lunch). She calls her son to yell at him and he is brave enough to answer her phone call despite the fact that he didn't go home. She is going to feel so bad when she finds out he's in the hospital and she's yelling.
Over at the friendly neighborhood church, the priest opens the doors and greets the homeless who are sleeping there because he is a Man of God and loves all. Even the stinky ones. Know what he does not love? Tremors. Because they are rather obvious intimations that the End of Days is nigh and he still hasn't seen the Brewers win the World Series. So obviously he has displeased the Lord God Almighty somehow. Meanwhile, Scott Wolf makes his triumphant return to television and simultaneously showers and appears on television as reporter Chad Decker. He is a serious journalist. You can tell because he is reporting on foreclosures and not even Ryan Seacrest does that. He opens the shower door and the camera cuts to a different door opening before giving us even the slightest soupcon of Scott Wolf's freshly-showered self. Cruel and unusual behavior if you ask me. The new door opens to Morris Chestnut buying a ring at a jeweler's. We see a photo of him squeezing the girl from ER and 24 who is not quite famous enough for me to know her real name, but definitely qualifies as a "Hey It's That Girl!" She has a lot of books open, so obviously she is a student. Or Bob Cratchit. She has no focus, though, because the second the ground starts shaking, she gets distracted. You'll never make the Dean's List with that attention span, missy!
Intrepid reporter Chad has made it to the office. Upon arrival he finds out that his latest pitch was assigned to another reporter and in that one instant we realize that Chad has a lot in common with Deborah Norville in that he is a frustrated journalist whose pretty face has pigeonholed him as a news reader, when he really aspires to hardcore investigative reporting. Hmm wonder where that story line is going to go? Well, what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in force -- like a frying pan of foreshadowing to the face.
FBI Agent Erica Evans is throwing on her clothes and running down the stairs while simultaneously yelling at her son who is still in the hospital. He apparently snuck out to crash a party in Soho...wait. This is New York? The FBI agent has a two-story well-lighted townhouse in New York City? How much of our tax dollars do g-men rake in each month? And where can I get an application? Also, Agent Erica's son, Tyler, is in the hospital talking on an iPhone. This would never happen in New York City, because AT&T has the worst cell phone reception in NYC and anytime you walk indoors you lose your signal, so the idea that he is inside a hospital in NYC talking on an iPhone is ludicrous. You may think I am overreacting to this small detail, but if this is the level of realism they are going to give us, I am already skeptical. Just then a huge earthquake hits the city. Agent Erica screams into her phone for her son. The short-attention span student jumps up from her chair and blocks the bookcase with her body. Frankly, in front of a bookcase is pretty much the second to last place I would want to stand in an earthquake. The last place I would want to stand during an earthquake is under a giant anvil of symbolism, like the unlucky guy at the church who is almost crushed to death by the fall of Jesus. Were it not for the quick reflexes of the stalwart priest the wheelchair-bound parishioner would have been martyred. By the way, do you get it? Huh huh? Do you get the whole Jesus falling thing? I bet you do. Out on the streets, things are heating up: Morris Chestnut (we don't know his name yet) sees a fighter plane making a fireball of a crash landing, which he skillfully outruns and escapes without a single shrapnel injury. We see the unconscious (dead?) pilot parachute to the ground and not move. Then a dark shadow is cast across a skyscraper. Agent Erica is coming for her son, but he can't hear her because AT&T has finally dropped the call, which gives me hope for the show. A man hops on a motorcycle and starts driving as quickly as he can, destination unknown. Everyone rushes out onto the streets to try and figure out what is going on. A giant space ship has appeared in the sky. It looks like a stingray, minus the tail. Everyone is clutching each other and staring up. Over at the television studios, the staff has crowded onto the roof for a better view. People are running and scared and looking for answers. The person on the motorcycle is Tyler, Agent Erica's son. He is stopped by a blockade of soldiers. The presence of soldiers and the crashed fighter plane means that the government probably already knew about the ships' arrival. Sure enough over at the student's house, Chad Decker reports on the television that the fighter jets that went to intercept the ships all experienced complete electrical failures. He also tells us that there are 29 ships stationed all over the globe. The student is trying to call "Ryan", so I suppose that is Morris Chestnut's name. He walks in and they hug and try to figure out what is going on.
At the military's barrier, Agent Erica is flashing her badge trying to get past the soldier who is guarding the border. He won't let her in no matter how many times she points out that she is an FBI agent. Dick. Luckily, a fight breaks out and with a quick thanks to the adrenaline-fueled fighter guys, Erica slips through while the soldier's attention is distracted. She wanders the street yelling for her son. As soon as they find each other, which was really quick considering how, you know, BIG New York City is, something starts happening on the ship. Erica grabs her teenage son and shoves him behind her protectively, which is sweet, if pointless. The ship is transforming itself, with parts moving and lights shining. The question on everyone's mind: Is it an Autobot or a Deception? The ship has become a screen and Morena Baccarin's beautiful face smiles down on the earthlings. She sweetly asks everyone to not be frightened, because despite their ominous size, shape, and arrival, they mean no harm. She explains that they are very sorry for the trouble their arrival caused. This is a momentous day. They thought they were the only intelligent life in the universe and they are delighted to find out otherwise. The alien mouthpiece that is Morena Baccarin introduces herself as Anna. She explains that they are far from home and they need help, particularly water and a mineral, which is "common and abundant" on earth. (She doesn't mention that this "mineral" is probably generated inside the eyeballs of infants and kittens.) We see that the alien broadcast is being simulcast in different languages at some of the globe's top tourist destinations including the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids, the Mall of America, and the statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, which managed to not crumble un