If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I never really expected ABC’s new mystery thriller ‘Revenge’ to be any good. The generic title and annoyingly coy previews didn’t inspire much confidence. So, why did I watch the premiere? Well, it’s a show about beautiful people (star Emily VanCamp from ‘Everwood’ is gorgeous) in beautiful locations behaving very badly to one another, and that sort of thing is often reliably entertaining. That the pilot episode underwhelms isn’t surprising at all. The question now is whether the show has the potential to become more interesting as it goes.
VanCamp stars as a girl calling herself Emily Thorn, but whose real name is apparently Amanda. When she was a child, her father was (falsely?) accused of murder and sent to prison, where he later died. Now all grown up and having inherited a secret stash of money that daddy set aside for her, Amanda has changed her identity and returned to the Hamptons, where she plots to infiltrate her father’s former circle of wealthy friends and exact revenge on everyone who wronged him. Part of this plan involves romancing the son of lead rich bitch Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe, freshly Botoxed), who we already know will eventually wind up murdered. Did Emily/Amanda have him killed, or are there other conspiracies afoot?
The ‘Pilot’ episode was directed by Phillip Noyce, who once upon a time made some great movies like ‘Dead Calm’ and ‘Clear and Present Danger‘, but mostly contents himself these days with churning out disposable studio product like ‘Salt‘ and the occasional TV gig. The episode has slick production values, with the exception of a few fakey green-screen backdrops and an unfortunate inundation of teal in the photography. What it doesn’t have is much energy or sense of fun. The plot is plodding and predictable.
From the set-up here, it appears that each episode will find Amanda claiming her revenge on a new person. It seems to me that she’s going to run out of victims pretty quickly if that’s the case. In this one, she arranges for queen bee Victoria to find out that her husband is cheating on her with her own best friend, which results in that friend being run out of town and exiled from their circle. To this, Amanda crosses a big red “X” over the woman’s photo. Mission accomplished. Yeah, really, that’s it. Heavens to betsy, she’s been ostracized from her friends. What a devious plan!
Based on this episode, the series takes itself far too seriously. It could use to be a little trashier. Or a lot trashier. I’ll probably give it another episode or two to see if it gets any better, though.