Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Pilot #8: Revenge

FALL PILOT #8: Revenge
NETWORK: ABC
SUPPOSED SELLING POINT: REVENGE.  Attractive people!  Beach houses!
POSSIBLE SELLING POINT FOR ME:  Calculating manipulation and beach houses, in that order.

I pretty much lost track of what was actually happening in ABC's new "rich people destroying rich people" show Revenge.  This isn't because it's super complicated (but it kind of is), but because earlier in the week I'd been thinking about Josie and the Pussycats (as people do) and wondered what happened to the guy that played Alan M.(Gabriel Mann) in the movie.  Then, of course, the universe has a way of working these things out and soon answered my question: he's on Revenge!  When I went to IMDB to confirm that this was indeed Alan M., I learned that Gabriel Mann has been around everywhere and that somehow I'd completely neglected to recognize him.  When I say everywhere I mean Mad Men and the Jason Bourne movies, but still: I totally watched those things.

On Revenge, Alan M. has grown into a 40-year old version of young James Spader.  As far as I can tell, he's playing Steff in Pretty in Pink if Steff were some sort of genius entrepreneur who really liked animal applique pants from J.Crew.  Speaking as someone who now has to watch The Office just because she finds James Spader hilarious and weirdly magnetic, this is a good thing. I'm all for villainous characters who studied in the Spader school of creepery.  Unfortunately, there's more to Revenge than Alan M.

In the first episode, we learn that Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) wants revenge.  Her family was destroyed at some point in the past by the malicious queen bees and kingpins of East Hampton society, and she's taken great pains to transform herself into someone they won't recognize (except Alan M. sees right through that, so I don't know how well that's going to work out for her).  She's going to go Alias on them, with wigs and disguises and poisons and tricky methods of bringing them down.  Hopefully, she's going to drive them to their deaths, but right now she seems mostly interested in 'taking them down a peg', which I find rather disappointing.  We meet a surplus of characters without much context and (since no one ages in the Hamptons) any moments of the show's back and forth temporal flux read as minutely confusing.  When is this happening?  Why is this happening?  Maybe we could meet these people in the next episode?  No?  Ok...

From where I sat, Revenge's hour long pilot felt as though it dragged well beyond its run time.  The landscape, while glamorous, felt stagnant and unchanging.  The characters seemed superficially introduced, relying on our understanding of past archetypes like them: rich bitches, social climbers, fortunate sons. It saves time, but it's not the best way to open a show.  I was plagued by the need to pre-judge all of them as evil based on Emily's blank expression even though the show eventually makes it clear that no, there are some good people here as well.  Is Emily one of them?  Presumably yes, but I'm not so sure I care...

SECOND EPISODE?:  I'm still not sure I caught on to what's going on here.  Oh wait, REVENGE. Why was she in prison,. though?  She didn't see her dad for 10 years?  How old is she?
WILL IT MAKE IT TO A SECOND SEASON?: Probably.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh my God, I share your feeling exactly about James Spader! What is it about him that transfixes me so? Have you seen Secretary? ....Oh gosh, it's amazing.

    I watched this the other day, and I too don't really know what I think about it. I thought it was lame that they were having Emily constantly watching news reports & court proceedings on her laptop which was obviously just a way to inform the audience of what happened to her father. (I also watched episode 2, so I'm not sure if she did that much in the pilot or not, in case you don't know what I'm talking about.) But thank you for writing about the guy from Josie & the Pussycats! I knew I had seen him before!

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