Roswell, New Mexico: The Remake I Never Expected To Like

The phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” can apply to a lot of the movies and television shows being considered for a remake or reboot. While Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime give us a plethora of original content to binge watch whenever we want, big wig studios will still find a rhyme and a reason to want to take what was a hit back then and redo it all for a new generation of entertainment watchers.

I’ve been against most of the remakes and reboots I’ve seen or heard about. Why revive something when it already had a good ending? The reboot of The X-Files, while nice to see David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their iconic roles as agents Mulder and Scully, was a huge letdown overall during its two season run. Some shows are better off staying finished. Then there’s the remake of Roswell, the 1999 WB TV show that aired for three seasons before concluding in 2002. When the announcement was made about a whole new Roswell airing on the CW, now known as Roswell, New Mexico, I had no intentions of watching it. Eventually, I caved after a friend caught it and curiosity got the better of me. And now? I’m hooked.

Roswell, New Mexico [Credit: The CW Network]
Roswell, New Mexico is essentially the same show as the original. Aliens crash land in Roswell and three of those aliens that survived the crash—Max, Isobel, and Michael (played by Nathan Dean Parsons, Lily Cowles, and Michael Vlamis respectively)—have been hiding and assimilating as normal, small town humans, concealing the secret of their true origins and powers. The three manage to lay low without raising any suspicion from the other town folk until the life of the girl Max loves, Liz (played by Jeanine Mason), is threatened and Max makes a choice to save her, upending every rule the alien three created to protect themselves. While these core story details haven’t changed much between the two shows, there are significant changes that make Roswell, New Mexico an entirely different show. And this distinction may be helping the new series to establish itself apart from the Roswell that originally starred Shiri Appleby as Liz, Jason Behr as Max, Katherine Heigl as Isobel, and Brendan Fehr as Michael.

Among the major changes Roswell New, Mexico has made is to take the characters out of high school and place them as working young adults with adult problems, rather than retread the drama of high school. Roswell is based on the Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. The fact that the new show altered this detail from book to TV in the 2019 version is smart and a welcome change. Those who grew up watching the original Roswell TV show don’t want to see a rehash of something that has been done before. And honestly, the CW’s other hit shows, Riverdale and Legacies, already have the high school scene covered just fine. Being a fully grown adult myself, I can relate better to Liz and Max 2.0 as adults than if they had been teenagers. Maybe minus my boyfriend being an alien with powers, of course.

Another significant change is certain character details or personalities have been tweaked to make it relevant for today. For example, Liz is no longer Liz Parker but Liz Ortecho, a scientist who fears her undocumented father will be taken away by ICE officials and deported back to Mexico. Having read that the Liz character from the books is originally Latina and the 90s Roswell whitewashed Liz, is a surprising revelation to have discovered. The new show actually restores Liz’s ethnicity as it should have been. Max Evans is the town’s deputy sheriff, which adds a new layer to his character. If the show sticks around for a Season 2, it’ll be interesting to see how the writers go about having Max juggle being the keeper of law and order but also hiding a major secret of who he really is and what he can do. But by far the most shocking change of all is Michael Guerin. Where the original Michael from Roswell is the hot headed bad boy alien who can’t stay out of trouble, the Michael of Roswell, New Mexico is still very much all of those things except he likes men and is exceptionally smarter than he looks. And Isobel? Well, there isn’t much of a change between the 90s portrayal versus now. The only difference is Isobel Evans of Roswell, New Mexico is happily married and living a regular life of domesticated wedded bliss with her hot husband. If anything, Lily Cowles’ Isobel is really an extension of what pre-Grey’s Anatomy Katherine Heigl brought to the character. There are other changes made to the rest of the supporting cast, such as Kyle, Sheriff Valenti, Alex, and Maria, that further highlight how unlike the original show it is. But with all the changes that were made for this new series, it doesn’t bother me half as much as it normally would have when an old fan favorite gets the remake treatment.

The original cast of The WB’s 1999 Roswell.

Watching all four episodes of the CW show so far, I couldn’t find anything about it I absolutely hated. Believe me, I was ready to hate all over this new show with its different cast of actors taking on the roles I have loved Shiri Applebee, Jason Behr, and the others in. Instead, the fresh approach and the new actors won me over little by little with each new episode. Part of the reason why I think the show is better than I expected is because of Mason and Parsons casting as the new Liz and Max. They have the same chemistry that Applebee and Behr had on the show. The key ingredient of Roswell is the star-crossed lovers connection Liz and Max have. It’s passionate, intense, and smoldering. The entirety of the series hinges on this relationship and the dangers and obstacles they have to overcome to ultimately be together. If the chemistry between the new actors isn’t there, then there’s no way Roswell, New Mexico would have worked. The will they, won’t they dance Liz and Max do around each other is equal parts thrilling and frustrating at the same time. It’s what kept me watching the original Roswell throughout its three year run. When you put likable and attractive actors in these roles, you start getting invested in the characters and their love story. Mason and Parsons are succeeding in all those fronts so far. Other than the Liz and Max love story, another reason to watch the new show is the ongoing mystery surrounding Rosa’s death, Liz’s older sister.

When Liz finds out the real truth behind her beloved sister’s death, that she was actually murdered by an alien and not because of a substance abuse car accident as the entire town was led to believe, Liz’s dogged determination is fueling her desire to find out why Rosa was murdered and who did it. The show is a bit slow going with the relationship of Max and Liz and Rosa’s death, but with each new development from episode to episode, I’m hoping it’ll all build up to a huge payoff.

Four episodes and ongoing is still not enough to tell if Roswell, New Mexico will be the mainstay hit of 2019, but I’m cautiously optimistic about letting this new Roswell be a worthy addition to my TV watch list. Though, OG Roswell will forever be bae in my eyes.

Have you caught Roswell, New Mexico? What are your opinions on the show?

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