Tag Archives: Betrayal

Fall 2013 Review: Betrayal

30 Oct

Betrayers and James Cromwell Sometimes you watch a show,and you ask simply, “Why?” Not because it’s so bad, though you wouldn’t ask it if it was good. Even with bad shows you can often see why they were made, or the path they took and where it went wrong, or who they were trying to appeal to. There was a plan, and whether it was intended to be good, or simply popular with one particular demographic of television viewers, you can guess what it was, even if it doesn’t get there in the end. No, what I mean are shows that make you ask “Why” because they seem pointless and forgettable and you wonder why they kept getting moved through all of the many stages required to get a show from idea to production to on air. A show so forgettable and just whatever that you’ll probably not remember anything about it within an hour of viewing it, and that absolutely no one will remember its existence even a couple of months after its debut.,

Betrayal is such a show. If I had to guess at the thought process, I would suppose that ABC was probably making another attempt to imitate vastly slowed down first season hit Revenge, but the only reason I’m suspecting that is the two shows share one world title that are pretty similar. Here’s your Betrayal primer, nevertheless, so you know all you ever need to know about the show and more. Sara Hanley (Hannah Ware, who played the daughter, the worst character on Boss) is a successful magazine photographer married to Drew, an ambitious and busy prosecutor. Jack McAllister is a talented lawyer stuck working for his father-in-law in a possibly shady business. He’s married to Elaine, a marriage he fell into young. Both Jack and Elaine have kids, and after meeting at a gallery displaying Sara’s art, they find they have a spark that they simply can’t ignore and begin an affair.

I’m sure they both have perfectly good reasons to be unhappy in their respective marriages but the spark is certainly hard to discern from a viewer perspective. Jack feels stuck being around his family all the time at work and at home, and feels totally controlled by his father-in-law. Sara, well, her husband is really busy I guess and doesn’t have time for coffee when she shows up in his office in the middle of the day without calling ahead. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel sympathetic towards them and empathize with their infidelity, or more than that, at least feel swept up in it even if we don’t think it’s moral, but I didn’t feel anything. Feeling that they were both wrong is not necessarily bad but feeling nothing at all certainly is. Both felt guilty after Sara received a phone call from her husband right before they were about to consummate their affair and they decide to break it off. Later in the episode, however, Jack made a surprise visit to Sara’s studio.  They decide, at this juncture, that even though they’ve spent just about a day with one another, that they can’t possibly live without one another and have sex right then and there in the studio. I don’t really get it and more than that as mentioned before I just don’t care.

The shin hits the fan when Jack’s brother-in-law, his boss’s son, is considered a prime murder suspect in the death of his boss’s brother-in-law, who his boss suspected of shady dealings against the family interest which Jack discovered. That’s a long complicated sentence which I could have spent more time parsing out but it’s really not worth it. The important upside is that coincidentally or maybe not, Sara’s husband is the prosecutor, who believes that a conviction of Jack’s brother-in-law could make his career, setting up a run for political office. The episode ends with Sara breaking down after finding this out, her infidelity reducing her to a pile of guilt.

Betrayal really is probably going for something in the Revenge sphere, but it’s so far off that I have a hard time believing it. Revenge was trashy, soapy, fun. Betrayal, well, it’s soapy if soapy just means being about people having affairs, but it’s not at all fun. It’s super duper serious, ponderous, and uninteresting.

I entirely forgot to mention that the show tries to grab you with my least favorite plot device, the flash forward (which Revenge used as well), which appears at the beginning of the episode, but which I forgot about by the end, when it reappears briefly.  In the flash forward, Sara is shot and well, I couldn’t tell what else happened, and I didn’t really care to watch the scene again to figure it out. This device is intended to let me know big, interesting things are going to happen, because you might not realize that after one episode, but it always misses the point. If you can’t interest people in some aspect of your show after one episode, you’re not doing a very good job. A cheap trick won’t help.

Oh, I should probably mention James Cromwell plays Jack’s father-in-law. That’s pretty cool.

Betrayal is not as bad as a bad comedy because bad dramas usually aren’t as bad as bad comedies. It was a frustrating, sub-mediocre watch, but it wasn’t out and out laughably awful. It was merely pretty bad. Again, I ask. Why?

Will I watch it again? No. Betrayal is so anonymous that you probably won’t remember it exists if I ask you about it tomorrow. That’s not a good thing.

Fall 2013 Previews and Predictions: ABC

16 Sep


(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

ABC is the last of the four major networks to get predictions and previews here (CW does not count).  They’ve also got the most new fall shows with 8 and I feel less confident about predictions their shows than any network I’ve done so far.  Still, I’ll have a got at it.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – 9/24

Agents of Shield

Probably the most anticipated show of the fall season, Agents represents Marvel’s first foray into live television since the beginning of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with Iron Man. Agents also represents Joss Whedon’s first return to television since Dollhouse. Though he won’t be working on this show day-to-day like he has on his other shows (Avengers 2 requires a lot of work), he co-created the show with his brother Jed Whedon and his brother’s wife, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Joss directs the first episode, which all three co-wrote.  Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg returns to lead a group of eccentric characters who try to solve weekly supernatural action mysteries.

Prediction: Renewal – my most confident renewal pick, along with The Blacklist, though since it’s network television, anything can happen – still it’s a pretty good bet, I think the Marvel name, shepherded by the Whedon writing and sensibility will carry the day.

The Goldbergs – 9/24

All Goldbergs

Television loves making trips to the past. In this case, The Goldbergs is the story of a family in the wacky and wild 1980s, complete with the fashions and music and everything else that comes to mind immediately when you think of the ’80s.  There’s the gruff and angry dad, played by Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin, with his wife played by Bridesmaids and Rules of Engagement’s Wendi McLendon-Covey.  They have three kids, including a hot daughter, a goofy teenage son, and a younger son who videotapes all their exploits. They’re all joined by Grandpa, played by George Segal. It does not look promising, and the posters of the family dressed in matching striped shirts doesn’t help anything.

Prediction: 12- It’s getting a surprising amount of promotion; using my anecdotal ads-on-subway test, it’s among the most promoted shows in the ABC line up.  Still, I think it’s not going to work, and I think, looking at that poster, you probably think that too.

The Trophy Wife – 9/24

The Wife Trophy

Malin Akerman, a reformed party girl, marries older Bradley Whitford, who already had multiple kids with two separate ex-wives who both don’t care for her.  How will she navigate the difficulties of step-kids, ex-wifes, and a husband who might still be under the thumb of either?  ABC will hope she handles it hilariously and like Akerman and Whitford, but this looks fairly generic.  If The Goldbergs seems to be getting the most promotion, ,this seems to be getting the least. Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden plays one of the ex-wives..

Prediction: 12- A few shows always go out early.  It’s a talented cast but when in doubt, bet against shows which the networks don’t seem to be promoting very heavily.

Lucky 7 – 9/24

Lucky 8 - Unlucky 1

A group of seven workers at a Queens gas station win the lottery, and their lives change, and not just for the better, or we’d have a pretty uninteresting television show.  It’s based off a similar British show, as most TV shows are nowadays. While the trailer was largely unmemorable, it’s actually a new idea, at least in America, which in and of itself is always impressive coming from a network. The cast features largely lesser known actors and actresses and I’m not sure how true to life or overdramatic it will be from the trailer, but it has a chance at being good, which is more than I can say about many network shows after watching the trailers.

Predictions: 13+ – It’s a legitimately interesting idea that could be good or bad depending on well writing, directing, and acting, and so forth.  I’ll take the middle position in lieu of any additional information.

Back in the Game – 9/25

Maggie Lawson's back is in the game

Psych’s Maggie Lawson dumps her terrible husband and returns to her hometown with her son, and moves in with her crotchety father played by James Caan.  When no one else steps up, she, a former softball player, decides to coach her son’s little league team which consists of a bunch of outcast kids. Caan and her are a two part Walter Matthau from Bad News Bears, as she does the baseball coaching and he does the grumpy old man act. Television “that guy” Ben Koldyke plays what I believe is the antagonist rival baseball coach; he was Don in How I Met Your Mother and one of the leads in Work It – I hope for your sake, you’re not familiar with the latter.

Predictions: 13+ It seems fairly generic and inoffensive which maybe will coast it along to half a season, but no more. I like Maggie Lawson in Psych, for what that’s worth.

Betrayal – 9/29

What is this poster about?

A beautiful married photographer begins an affair with a married lawyer, which leads to particular amounts of trouble when they turn out to be on opposite sides of a murder case.  I’m not sure about the tone for this show either, whether it’s over-dramatically sopay like Revenge, or maybe more series and emotional. I have no idea what to make of this show, but the leads are Hannah Ware, whose most famous role was as Kelsey Grammar’s daughter on the little-seen but fantastically over-the-top Boss, and Stuart Townsend who was in Queen of the Damned and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. James Cromwell also appears.

Prediction: 12- I have no idea what to make of this show.  I’m guessing, fairly arbitrarily, the public won’t either.

Super Fun Night – 10/2

Less Fun Day After

Rebel Wilson stars.  There’s a premise to the show, but that’s more or less all you need to know.  If you like her, there’s a good chance you’ll like the show, and if you don’t, well, you’ll probably hate it.  She stars as a young attorney who stays home with her friends every Friday night until she gets a promotion and a hot lawyer invites her out, and she invites her friends to come along and share the super fun times with her.  I’ve largely been in the anti-Rebel camp.  I’ll give the show a shot, because, well, I give all shows a shot, but I’m not hopeful from the trailer.

Prediction; 13+ – Rebel Wilson felt like she has had a TV show coming for some time. She definitely has a lot of fans but we’ll know in a few weeks exactly how many and how much they care.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – 10/10

Once Upon a Time: Miami

Although I frequently do my best to forget about the existence of Once Upon a Time, the fairy tale drama has become a decent sized hit, with its share of critical fans as well.  The true sign of success on network television is the development of a spin off, and Once Upon a Time is getting that as it enters its third season.  Wonderland actually looks a bit darker than the original, and, despite my better instincts based on my dislike of Once Upon a Time, I’m actually kind of intrigued.  There’ll be plenty of crossover though it seems like, and it’ll be fairly tied in with the original, which means I’ll be cynical until convinced otherwise.

Prediction: Renewal – It’s a smart move and it’s set up well to succeed.  I’m not sure it will work, and spin-off fatigue happens all the time, but I this is a smart attempt by ABC even if it doesn’t work.