Monday, March 3, 2014

Pilot Review: The Red Road

The Red Road (Sundance)
Premiered February 27 at 9pm

It’s always nice to see a new network investing in the idea of original television programming. The Sundance Channel premiered its first show, “Rectify,” last year, and it was an intriguing and well-executed series that, after its initial six episodes, was deemed worthy of a ten-episode second season slated for this summer. Now, the network is trying something new with “The Red Road,” a dark and foreboding drama that starts out in a rural New Jersey town with the disappearance of a young student in an area jointly populated by white and Native American people. It’s not clear at the start exactly what the focus of this show will be, but it’s certainly intriguing and contains a few very magnetic characters. I’m absolutely thrilled that Julianne Nicholson has netted herself what is indisputably an incredibly meaty role, and I’m excited to see what she can do with it. She’s done good work on “Boardwalk Empire” and “Masters of Sex” and in “August: Osage County” and “Puccini for Beginners.” This good be her chance to really get into a substantial role. It’s also great to see Jason Momoa without all of his Dothraki makeup from playing Khal Drogo on “Game of Thrones” in a part that seems very well-suited to him. The meeting between Momoa’s Phillip and Martin Henderson’s Harold suggests that there is much more intrigue to come, as they begin an alliance that is going to stretch across cultural and legal lines. I’m definitely interested, though I’m not yet sure where it’s headed yet.

How will it work as a series? Like Sundance’s first show, this series order is only for six episodes. This one accomplished much more in its first hour than that one did, and it seems clear that the deaths seen and discussed in this episode are not the only casualties that these characters will experience in the near future. I’ll definitely stick around for a few weeks.
How long will it last? Reviews for “Rectify” were stronger than they were for this show, but I think that Sundance is going to want to stick with the idea of establishing its brand. We’ll see how these six installments go, but I think Sundance may well sign up to renew this one sooner rather than later.

Pilot grade: B

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