Fall 2011 Review: Revenge

22 Sep

(Here at Television, the Drug of the Nation we’ll be doing one review for one show on each day of the week, each week.  For example, one Tuesday we might review 2 Broke Girls, and then the next week Terra Nova or The Playboy Club.  So, if your favorite or least favorite show didn’t get reviewed yet, not to worry)

Without ruining anything outside of the first half hour, here’s what we know so far in broad terms about Revenge.  A woman in her 20s moves into the Hamptons for the summer into a house where she spent summers when she was a little girl.  She’s there under an assumed name, she’s rich, and she’s determined to take revenge on people who wronged her father, framing him for a horrific crime he didn’t commit, by taking them out one by one.  The chief of those upon who she seeks vengeance is a regal Hamptons presence, Victoria Grayson.

After sitting through an hour of Revenge, there were a surprising number of parallels to another new season debut, Ringer.  Like Ringer, the main character is a relatively young woman, and a theme of doubling is prevalent, though less literally than in Ringer.  Emily van Camp’s character now goes by the name Emily Thorn, but was once Amanda Clark, and at least a couple of characters new her as this alternate persona.  Like Ringer, the action takes place in the midst of a high end socialite circle, through which we dive right into the seedy underbelly of the rich and powerful, complete with affairs and cover ups.  Like Ringer, there’s an unclear mix between soapy trashiness and action and suspense.

Compared to Ringer, Revenge didn’t get quite as far in terms of plot.  In the first half hour, I was just waiting to get moving a little bit.  The pacing was undoubtedly deliberate.  Unfortunately, in a show like this there’s no way to tell if it’s just a slow build, or straight out boring without at least a couple more episodes.  The second half definitely moved a little bit better and we got at least a couple more glimpses into what we’ll be looking at for the rest of the year.

I did like something that we saw towards the end of the episode.  Initially it seemed like this was Emily versus everyone with her British best friend acting as a sidekick who doesn’t know a thing.  We learn though that at least one of the characters, an internet millionaire allegedly loyal to her father, also despises the Graysons and would love to get in on the revenge, but Emily is not interested in sharing.  Almost any time conflicts become multifaceted instead of straight one on one they become more interesting.

I also wanted to note that Revenge uses a device dramas like to use sometimes (Damages does it, Breaking Bad sometimes as well) that I’m almost never a fan of, which is starting the beginning of a season or an episode with a flashforward which shows terrible and possibly tragic things happening.  The goal of this flashforward to leave you with a taste of what will be happening if you watch the rest of the season and to provide suspense for how we get from here to there.  It’s not that I think that this technique is inherently flawed.  It can absolutely work well sometimes. I just think that most of the times it’s used it doesn’t add a whole lot.  Even based on the first episode, we know we’re in for a show in which people are going to have at the very least their lives ruined; there’s no need to show us what will happen it at the end of the first season or half season.  If anything, it makes me worry that the show will go too slow.

Writing this review reminded me of the limits of judging shows after just one episode.  With comedies, this is because they generally take at least a couple episodes to gel and to find their niche.  With long building and complex plot shows like Revenge, it’s difficult because we just don’t get enough.  We get the premise, some general tone and mood, and a quick appraisal about how we like the actors.  After five episodes we won’t know whether the ending will disappoint us and whether the season-long plotting is poor, but we’ll at least get more of a sense for the pacing, more of the characters and at least a little clearer sense of where the show is going.  Judging it after one episode less like judging after one full chapter and more like judging after just five pages (which is why we’ll be doing midseason reports to see if some of these shows keep up on or fail their promise).

I liked Emily VanCamp so far, and that’s certainly going to be important going forward as it looks as though everything will revolve around her.  I also liked Madeleine Stowe as Victoria Grayson. She seems like she has everything she needs to be a quality ruthless villain holding up one side of the show.

Will I watch it again?  I think I’ll try it again at least one more, as it has at the least bare minimum essentials to put together a good show.  I think this is going to be in the category of watch five and reevaluate.

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One Response to “Fall 2011 Review: Revenge”

  1. Soni January 29, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    That is funny! Because of this sweet post of you, I’ve just remembered that even tgouhh I went to meet Santa every year when I was little, I always knew that he wasn’t real. That this was a fairy tale.It didn’t ruin the magic of the holiday, I must add. I am so glad I remembered that. As what I was going to write was that the Montessorian side of me tgouhht right away that what is really important for Emily , to know that Santa is not real. But then I tgouhht you would think that it might ruin the holiday for her.Kisses, MiriPS I finally send your package yesterday! I hope it arrives in time for Hanukkah!

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