Friday, September 15, 2017

Pilot Review: Riviera

Riviera (SundanceNow)
Premiered September 14

Pilots are meant to be expository, and especially when a show is released in a format where it’s meant to be binged, not much of the show’s continuing plot needs to be addressed since viewers are likely to find out within hours or days anyway. I’m not a fan of such setups, and I’ve also seen a fair number of pilots that completely fizzle after their debuts, from disappointments like “Terra Nova” to disasters like “The Event.” This show isn’t nearly as bad as the latter, of course, but it’s pretty deathly boring. The world of art curation isn’t one that’s meant to be captured in a television thriller format, though dropping twenty million dollars like it’s nothing does suggest that those with means might be using those funds for more nefarious purposes. Julia Stiles in an actress who achieved early success in films like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Save the Last Dance,” earned a deserved Emmy nomination for her recurring role on “Dexter,” and has actual been starring on a web series called “Blue” for the past few years. It’s her experience in the Jason Bourne movies that makes her seem like the best fit for this role, yet she doesn’t manage to be engaging as a lead at all. She’s not sympathetic or particularly dynamic, and her performance pales in comparison to Lena Olin’s opportunistic ex-wife. I knew Constantine looked familiar, but I had no idea that he was played by Anthony LaPaglia since he looks very different from when he was big on TV for “Without a Trace.” This pilot was dense and uninvolving, and I have no desire whatsoever to screen the next nine episodes.

How will it work as a series? Stiles’ Georgina has gone from a clueless widow to someone who’s all about toting a gun and trying to take charge of her situation in order to make sense of it. That’s a character transformation I didn’t quite buy, much like a lot of things about this show. Maybe there are some interesting revelations to be uncovered, but I doubt it.
How long will it last? Reviews were mixed back when the show premiered in England on Sky Atlantic in June, though the ratings were pretty great. Stateside, the reviews aren’t great, and ratings aren’t as relevant since the entire season was released on SundanceNOW this past Thursday. I think that this will be all of this show that we’ll see.

Pilot grade: C-

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