The CW's latest reboot, the sci-fi drama Roswell, New Mexico, obviously has a lot in common with the original Roswell series, which aired on The WB for two years before moving to UPN for its final season. This makes sense because both TV series were adapted from Melinda Metz's Roswell High series of books. But you don't really care about how the two shows are similar; you want to know how they're different.
Well, the good news — or the bad, depending on how you felt about the original series, I suppose — is that the two shows are actually not all that different. They both center on a handsome, brooding alien who saves the life of a beautiful, science-obsessed human he's been in love with for years. They both involve government conspiracies and investigations that naturally come with the the topic of aliens and the UFO crash of 1947. And they both feature characters named Michael Guerin who were/are destined to be fan favorites. Still, there are some key differences between the two series, so let's break them down.
1. Roswell, New Mexico is set after high school
Aging up the main characters was the quickest and best way to set this new series apart from the original. It not only opens up new storytelling possibilities, thus making it easier for the show to stand on its own, but it also means the characters are adults rather than lovesick, hormonal teenagers. The series picks up 10 years after high school has ended, and although that might make the characters a bit older and wiser, it doesn't mean they have everything figured out just yet.
When the show premieres, Liz Ortecho (Jeanine Mason) — yes, the series uses the character's original surname from the novels — is now a biomedical researcher who's returned to her hometown after a decade away. Still dreamy Max Evans (Nathan Dean Parsons) is a local police officer, which taps into his inherent need to protect others. Max's sister, Isobel Evans-Bracken (Lily Cowles), is happily married to a man (Karan Oberoi) who doesn't know she is an alien (you'll remember that Isobel eventually wed in the original series, but she didn't start out that way). Elsewhere, Kyle Valenti (Michael Trevino) is a doctor at the local hospital — I tried to do the math on this one, but I gave up and just accepted it — and Alex Manes (Tyler Blackburn), another character reverting to his surname from the books, is a decorated soldier who's recently returned from overseas. Meanwhile, Liz's best friend Maria DeLuca (Heather Hemmens) is a bartender at the local watering hole, and Michael Guerin (Michael Vlamis) is, well, he's still kind of lost, but he's also highly intelligent. He just doesn't always use his brain the way he should.
2. It's definitely not 1999 anymore
Although Roswell, New Mexico puts to good use a soundtrack heavily influenced by the sounds of the '90s, the series firmly stands out as a product of 2019 (or 2018, since it was filmed last year). The writers are definitely not shy about taking on timely topics like President Donald Trump's immigration policies; that much is clear within the first few minutes of the pilot. It's a theme that continues throughout the series as it tackles blatant racism, most often directed at Liz and her father, an undocumented immigrant.
3. There's a steamy same-sex relationship
It's unfortunate to have to single out this particular aspect as a major difference between the two series, but I'm also happy that Roswell, New Mexico is a more accurate reflection of our society and includes members of the LGBTQ community. In this series, Alex is not pining over Isobel; he's gay, and the series premiere features a heated kiss between his character and another man, kicking off a romance that has the potential to take all the attention away from Max and Liz.
4. The first season revolves around a murder
I don't know if Roswell, New Mexico necessarily needed a central murder mystery to set it apart from Roswell, but it certainly helps. I mean, it worked for Riverdale, after all. So the first season will dive into the death of Liz's older sister Rosa (Amber Midthunder), whose very existence in the story is actually another deviation from the original series. Having always believed that her sister died in a car accident while under the influence of drugs, Liz is shocked to discover that might not be the truth, and she won't rest until she finds out what happened to her.
5. Jim Valenti isn't the sheriff
Initially positioned as an antagonist, the character of Sheriff Jim Valenti, Kyle's father, quickly evolved into an ally in the original series. In Roswell, New Mexico, Kyle's father is dead and his mother (Rosa Arredondo) is the town's leading member of law enforcement. It remains to be seen how her character will fit into the series' overarching alien story — especially with Alex's father (Trevor St. John) and the U.S. military positioned as the main antagonists of the first season — but considering that Max is also a police officer, she probably isn't going to remain on the periphery for too long.
Roswell, New Mexico premieres Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW.
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