Oct 19, 2011

ABC's 'Revenge' is So Sweet

Revenge is in the Eye of the Beholder
With so many new and returning shows vying for my attention, it took me a while to make it to Revenge, the soapy drama on ABC. Granted, there was more than just my over-packed TV schedule that kept me away. The marketing, specifically, was pretty terrible, with Emily VanCamp in some sort of thorn dress that was apparently made out of anger?  Also, while I
really liked the (not-missed) Brothers and Sisters, VanCamp was never the shining star of the ensemble.

But eventually, due to residual Madeleine Stowe love and my attractions to all things cheesy, I set my sights on Revenge and easily went through the first four hours of the show. And now I’m hooked.

The story, based loosely on The Count of Monte Christo, follows Emily Thorne neé Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp), a girl returning to the Hamptons to exact revenge on the people that falsely accused and helped imprison her father for corporate fraud and (maybe) terrorism. While her motives become clearer over the course of the series, her methods of exacting revenge are completely mysterious. Armed with an unfathomable amount of wealth and the help of a tech-genius whose sights are similarly set on evening the score (Gabriel Mann), Emily quickly starts ruining the lives of the people who ruined hers, starting with B and C-list people on her quest to ultimately ruin Victoria Grayson (Stowe) and the rest of the Grayson clan.

Madeleine Stowe, Awesome
Victoria is the perfect quasi-villain – cold, calculating, and prone to violent fits of vengeance herself. Stowe, who doesn't seem to have aged a day since I last saw her in a movie almost fifteen years ago, is great at playing reserved sadness/rage. But she’s also got a lot more going for her, including her fraught family dynamic and her past relationship with Emily’s father (pre-incarceration, obvs). She may not be a total villain after all...
dun dun DUN!!!

The show is pure, sudsy dramatic fun (it even has a cast-off from Gossip Girl - Connor Paolo -  for good measure). The main strength of the show, however, is its strength and assuredness of plot. Revenge begins at a very dramatic engagement party and then flashes back, the show taking place in the 12-odd weeks before said party. Presumably, the season will lead up to the events at the party, and the confusing moments in the flash-forward will make perfect sense in the context of what the audience will learn. It’s a tricky set-up, mostly because the payoff may be disappointing or the show could get cancelled before they actually get to the events of the party (FOX’s Reunion suffered from both of these problems).  With Revenge, though, there is a sense that they have everything figured out (the full season order also helps).

The show is far from perfect. There is a class warfare subplot involving an old love interest (Nick Wechsler) and his family's failing bar that hasn't really been well-integrated into the main plot, and Emily VanCamp’s line delivery is flat and dry when it’s supposed to be level and calculating. Also, her character doesn’t come across as all that smart, and she really should be - she is planning a massive revenge scheme, after all.

Also, the people Emily Thorne goes after in her quest for justice do, for now, seem a bit random. While two of the four people she goes after falsely accused her father in court, the other two were less obviously evil: one was a lawyer who maybe did some shady stuff and the other was her crooked child psychologist. While the former two seem like worthy targets, the other two's take-downs seem more like personal vendettas than righteous justice. Her motives can be a bit shady, and she does some really dark things to the psychologist, which is kind of awesome but also a bit troubling. As of right now, no one in the show is taking enough time to question her tactics – Emily Thorne needs a more active antagonist, not just a brooding, over-protective mother or a somewhat cheeky sidekick. Someone needs to find out about her plot, and soon.

Still, check out this show. It’s dramatic and a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

Revenge airs Wednesdays at 10E/9C on ABC
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...