The River (ABC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review
On Tuesday February 7th, ABC’s newest midseason replacement, ‘The River’, premiered. The series is created by Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) and Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity 2) and there are eight episodes for season one. Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood, ‘Star Trek’), a successful documentary maker, disappears in the Amazon Jungle. After six months of searching, just as his son Lincoln (Joe Anderson, ‘The Crazies’) has accepted his father’s death, Emmet’s emergency beacon gives off a signal. Emmet’s wife and Lincoln’s mother Tess (Leslie Hope, ‘24’) has made a deal with Emmet’s former producer Clark (Paul Blackthorne, ‘The Dresden Files’). His company agrees to fund their expedition to find Emmet, if they allow him to make a documentary out of it. Under pressure of his mother, Lincoln accepts. Soon, however, they find that Emmet didn’t just disappear. There is something in the Amazon Jungle with them, something magical. Something Emmet set out to find.
Peli’s and Perry’s influences are definitely noticeable for those who have seen the Paranormal Activity movies. The succes-formula that made Paranormal Activity a hit seems to work flawlessly in these jungle-settings. I was worried the documentary style filming would make the series hard to follow. After all, this worked in Paranormal Activity because the cameras were anchored to one point, but in jungle settings the cameramen would be walking around, even running. However, this isn’t a problem because of what seem to be very experienced cameramen and a few steady cameras in the expedition’s boat. They make sure that there is an actual visible supernatural being haunting the crew, and not just something we cannot see.
As with Paranormal Activity, a lot of the excitement comes from the things that happen without anyone seeing it. Naturally, the parts where there is running involved are just not as interesting with handheld camera’s. Thankfully, the expedition members aren’t cowardly people, so they usually face the weird stuff head on.
As for the weird/supernatural part of the show; it’s not bad. Personally I feel like they could have made more of it. However, I realize this is partially because the entire series feels a lot like a movie, and one would expect a movie to go into the supernatural occurrence more extensively. Though, it seems like this series will be one of those series that covers a new phenomenon every episode, with one major theme connecting the episodes. If they would have to go into minor details with every phenomenon they would have to dedicate multiple episodes to one event. It wouldn’t fit the story if the crew would stick around to find out what the supernatural things they encounter really are, and if they can do anything about it. After all, their priority lies with their search for Emmet.
One thing I have a problem with is the ease with which everyone talks about private things in front of the cameras. This might be easy for Tess, seeing as how she has been making documentaries with Emmet for years, and perhaps also for Lincoln, seeing as how he grew up on camera, but there are more people on that boat who seemingly have no problems whatsoever with sharing their innermost feelings with the world. Furthermore, one would expect Lincoln to at least have some bad associations with this as well, seeing as how he feels like his father had more of an interest in his work than his son all these years.
Apart from this, the series seems to be quite promising. I’m really curious about the supernatural phenomena they will encounter next, and whether they will find Emmet in the end. I’m also eager to know how they will stretch the search out to cover multiple seasons.
- Midseason TV Cancellations and Renewals
The latest updates on 'The River', with info and predictions on all cancellations and renewals. Will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back every now and then.
- Upcoming Sci-Fi TV Series: Midseason 2011-2012
A collection of science fiction and supernatural TV Series that will premiere in the Midseason 2011-2012 TV Season. Shows that are featured are Alcatraz on FOX, The River on ABC and Awake on NBC.
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