Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pilot Review: Revenge

Revenge (ABC)
Premiered September 21 at 10pm

Every once in a while, there comes along a show with an explicit premise that sets out to accomplish one very specific, if still sweeping, goal. Usually these shows tend not to last more than one season, and when they do (“Prison Break”), the results are often less than favorable. In the case of “Revenge,” a young woman returns to the Hamptons to exact justice on those who ruined her father’s life. A flash-forward at the beginning of the show presents a certain event that may or may not be the apex of the plot, and then we start back at her arrival, with frequent flashbacks filling in the gaps of her father’s downfall and the roles executed by her various new neighbors. Conveniently, no one remembers her, so she’s free to be as obvious as she wants about her actions because no one knows anything about her. The show is being billed as a modern-day “The Count of Monte Cristo,” but there’s so much soap and sex that it’s hard to recognize it. The ensemble cast includes Madeleine Stowe and Henry Czerny, recently seen on “Falling Skies,” but the characters thus far are dense and over-the-top at the same time. I’m especially sad to see Ashley Madekwe, who was so wonderful on “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” trapped in yet another undynamic role, following the awful, short-lived “The Beautiful Life.” Emily VanCamp, who has been on “Everwood” and “Brothers & Sisters” but is still most recognizable to me from her first regular TV series, the abysmal “Glory Days,” is a decent lead, but it’s a stretch to believe that she was a jailed punk with a strong desire to kill everyone she’s meeting. This is a show that might be better suited, if not perfectly suited, for the CW, and the fact that it’s on ABC makes me doubt its chances of success.

How will it work as a series? This is a show that needs to be watched week-to-week, and also runs the risk of decimating its cast at an alarming rate, though I imagine that the inverse will be true, which is to say that the level of suspense will be lower since the credited series regulars won’t actually be dying off all the time. It may still prove addictive, and definitely good for fans of primetime soaps.
How long will it last? The pilot opened strong, and even fared well opposite the newly-relocated “CSI.” That may get it through the season, but I can’t imagine this show has somewhere to go after a year. Right now I’ll give it the rest of the season but no more than that.

Pilot grade: C

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