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The River TV Show Review - There's Magic Out There

Updated on May 27, 2012

Read The River Book

The River TV Show on ABC

The River TV show first aired on ABC on the 7th of February 2012.

Many people were looking forward to The River due to the fact it was by two famous Executive Producers, Steven Spielberg and Oren Peli.

Oren Peli has clearly had a huge influence on The River TV series as it is filmed in the same style as Paranormal Activity, another project he was responsible for. If you haven't seen Paranormal Activity then think of the way the Blair Witch was filmed. It does add to the drama but it can lead to headaches, so you have been warned.

Although The RIver TV series is scripted, because of the way it is filmed and the premise of the story, it comes across as an unscripted reality TV show.

The River is also a popular novel by Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Although some of the plot differs from the book there are still many similarities to the The River book.

Keep reading to discover more about The River TV show, cast and characters and some of The River's secrets.

The Cole Family
The Cole Family

The River Synopsis

The River TV Series is about Dr. Emmet Cole, his exploration of the undisovered world of nature, his family and the secrets he's kept from those closest to him.

The River series starts by showing us some old footage of Emmet filming his documentary called The Undiscovered Country back in 1988. It looks to be set in the Amazon and he has a set slogan of, "There's Magic Out There!"

Although the series revolves around finding new things in nature, very similar to a David Attenborough type nature program. Where it differs is that Emmet's family are also on camera. Emmet's wife and son are regularly featured and the audience thinks of them as the perfect family. The Cole's are featured in People magazine and are known all over the world.

However, it soon becomes apparent that not everything is perfect in paradise. Off camera, Emmet's son Lincoln is scared of most of the wildlife. Although I can't blame him for having a fear of giant snakes that could easily kill a fully grown adult, let alone a 10 year old boy.

The Undiscovered Country is a hit and continues to be aired on TV for 22 years until Emmet Cole disappears in the Amazon and no one hears from him for over 6 months. After 6 months Emmet is declared legally dead and his now adult son, Lincoln, holds a Memorial in honor of his father.

Lincoln has issues with his father. Emmet was always away on work when it was Lincoln's birthday, graduation or any other special occassion.

Just as Lincoln has given up on finding his father, his mother, Tess Cole drops a bombshell on him. Tess tells Lincoln that Emmets' distress beacon has been found. She needs him to go with her to find Emmet.

Lincoln is not interested as he has his own life, completely seperate from Emmet, but agrees to go for his mothers sake when she tells him the TV Network won't pay to find Emmet if Lincoln doesn't go.

The TV Network wants to make money out of the search to make a new reality show about Tess and Lincoln looking for Emmet Cole. The TV Series Producer, Clark, knows Lincoln hates his father so this would make good TV.

A boat is hired to go in search of Emmet and the Magus (Emmet's ship) and to find out what happened.

The River Cast and Characters

Picture of The Cast of The River
Picture of The Cast of The River

Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Emmet Cole. Emmet is an explorer and TV personality. He is missing on the Amazon and was in search of things better left undiscovered.

Joe Anderson as Lincoln Cole. Lincoln despises his father, Emmet, and wants to get on with his life as a Doctor. He turns down a job in Chicago to go in search of Emmet for the sake of his mother, Tess.

Leslie Hope as Tess Cole. Tess wants to find her husband, Emmet. Lincoln wonders if Emmet went in search of Magic because his mother had an affair.

Eloise Mumford as Lena Landry. Lena is the daughter of the missing cameraman Russ Landry. Lena was raised on the Magus, alongside Lincoln. Emmet trusted Lena with information that he shared with no one else. Lena also has what looks to be a birth mark in her hairline that matches a necklace Emmet gave to his son.

Thomas Kretschmann as Captain Kurt Brynildson. Kurt is the private security hired to make sure they all make it through the Amazon jungle safely.

Daniel Zacapa as Emilio Valenzuela. Emilio was the ship's mechanic aboard the Magus. He has an intimate knowlede of Magic along with his daughter Jahel.

Paulina Gaitan as Jahel Valenzuela. Jahel is the daughter of Emilio and she has an affinity with Magic. Her dad tells us that she had a ghost friend as a child and that his wife died because of her ability with spirits. Jahel seems to have inherited this ability from her mother. Both of them believe in Magic.

Paul Blackthorne as Clark Quitely. Clark is the Producer of Undiscovered Country and knows how to push peoples buttons.

Shaun Parkes as A. J. Poulain. A. J. is the lead cameraman and will do anything to get the shot.

Jeff Galfer as Sammy Kirsch. Sammy is the other cameraman and is excited to be going on the voyage.

Emmet Cole Walks on Water
Emmet Cole Walks on Water
Emmet can make fire without any tools.
Emmet can make fire without any tools.

Dangers Encountered on The River

It's not long before danger is encountered on The River. The characters mentioned above, except for Emmet, all board the Magus in search of answers surrounding the disappearance of Emmet Cole. When they hear banging from inside the ship they find a door has been sealed shut from the outside.

When the door is unsealed, Lena is hurt by the Evil Spirit that rushes to leave the room. It is now strong enough to hunt them because it was able to feed from Lena's blood.

Lena shows the rest of the team the secret tapes that Emmet told her to destroy if he ever disappeared. On the tapes, Emmet is walking on water like Jesus and is practicing magic with tribesmen.

Before Emilio was fired from the Magus, Emmet started spending a lot of time off the ship by himself. Emilio was worried but Emmet told him not to be because he was protected by Magic.

From the tapes, they realise the Evil Spirit is Cam Travers, one of the Producers. Lena tells them that Travers caught a fever and died before the Magus went missing.

The team decide to leave but the speed boats they came on are sabotaged by the Evil Spirit. It has decided to hunt them so it can grow stronger. To do this it needs more blood.

Emilio and Jahel fix the engines on the Magus and, when they try to escape, Sammy the cameraman is killed. Lincoln makes the decision to trap the Evil Spirit with blood, like Emmet must have done. Before he can do that, Tess tries to ask the Spirit if Emmett is alive.

Lincoln is able to trap the Spirit and then throws it into The River. Tess gets her answer that Emmet is alive.

Tess is Taken By The Spirit
Tess is Taken By The Spirit

The team use the tapes Emmet has left behind to follow him into the wild.

They come across a cemetery in the middle of the jungle. They then come across the "valley of the dolls". This was creepy and frightening and was erily similar to the Chucky dolls.

Lincoln finds his childhood teddy bear and decides to reclaim it.

The Spirit that is appeased by the dolls decides to take revenge and takes Tess as payment. Lincon tries to return the teddy bear but the Spirit refuses the gift. Lincoln is forced to dig up the Spirit's mother and give it back to the Spirirt. The gift is accepted and Tess is returned to the group.

Meanwhile, Jahel is possessed by Emmet who tells the group to leave. He tells them that he has been taken and that it was wrong of him to go looking for answers. Emmet's pleas are ignored and the search for Emmet Cole on The River TV show continues.

The River Trailer

Watch The River

Everyone Has an Agenda on The River

I found The River intriguing as everyone seems to have their own agenda.

Emmet Cole was chasing Magic and kept his family in the dark. Little clues are given as The River series starts that perhaps Emmet knew he was going to run into trouble. He sent his ship's mechanic and his daughter away before his latest voyage. To begin with it's not clear why he would do that, but once you find out what Emmet was doing on these expeditions you realise he knew the daughter had special traits or abilities. He didn't want to put her in jeapordy. Or perhaps he realised she would be central to finding him if things went wrong?

The ships mechanic and his daughter seem to know more about Magic than anyone else. It was hinted that Jahel gets her abilities from her Mother and that they can kill her if she's not careful. Will anyone listen to Jahel before it's too late?

Lena wants to find her father, who is also missing, but seems to have a few secrets too. How much did she know regarding Emmets search?

Emmet clearly trusts her more than his own son. And what's the significance of the mark on Lena's hairline, that matches the necklace that Emmet gave to his son? Did Emmet give the necklace to the wrong child?

Lincoln clearly has a complicated relationship with his father. He's a Doctor and very logical. All his beliefs are being questioned now as he sees real Magic and that it actually exists.

Emmet kept secrets from his wife, Tess. Perhaps he wanted to protect her but there's an underlying tension there. Did she have an affair with someone else? What really happened between Tess and Emmet?

Capt Kurt Brynildson also knows more than first meets the eye. He is caught on camera making a secret call about Emmet. He plans to kill Emmet if he found "The Source". Although we don't know who he's talking to, is it posible he is talking about the source of Magic? Who is Kurt really working for? And how do they know what Emmet was looking into?

What danger will Clark put everyone in while pursuing the story of a lifetime?

Will we find out the real story behind the disappearance of Emmet Cole?

Did You Like The River?

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Why I Liked The River TV Show

I liked The River TV series for a number of reasons.

I liked that it has Supernatural/Paranormal elements to it that is both creepy and mysterious in places. I think The River excelled at this at key points, such as with the Evil Spirit they released on the boat and the creepy dolls in the forest. It was particularly effective when the monkey had the dolls head on. I have to admit my heart almost stopped at that point in the show.

I really liked the fact that The RIver didn't decide to kill off the only black guy straight away. It's normally what happens but instead it's the Jewish cameraman, Sammy, that gets the chop first. I guess A. J. was safe, as he was the lead cameraman, and Clark the producer can't film for toffee.

This show feels like Lost did in the beginning in many ways too. It raises so many questions and theories and was both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Although the first episode of The River TV show was filmed in Puerto Rico, the rest of the season is filmed in Hawaii, just like Lost.

The only negative I have about The River is the way it's filmed. The constant movement of the camera causes me headaches and is rather unsettling at times. Although it adds to the effects, I can see myself forgoing this TV show if it continues for much longer. I felt like my eyes were going cross-eyed by the end of the episode.

Get The River on DVD Now!

Find out why The River TV show won't be returning in 2013 as it's on the 2012 cancelled TV shows list.


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    • Lauryallan profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Glad you love it so much. I find it really thrilling and can't believe how much I like it. Although the last few episodes the camera seems to have calmed down. However, this weeks episode at the research facilty was crazy and all the camera movement made me feel sick. I had to stop it for a few minutes before I threw up.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I absolutely love this tv show. I don't stay up after 10 so I watch it the next day on Hulu. I love the suspense and the mystery and I hope it stays on for a while. The camera movements aren't that bad... I don't get headaches. Maybe people who have problems with that should get their eyes checked! I never could get into the Lost tv series, but this one is making me want more! Keep going guys!

    • Lauryallan profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @plaid pages, I know what you mean. I just hope they don't make out that it's some future alien tech or alien race. It will be seriously lame if they go down that route.

    • plaid pages profile image

      plaid pages 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great summary and predictions. Honestly, Lost didn't raise the hairs on the back of my neck like this one.

      I hope I'm not disappointed.

      Great hub.

    • Lauryallan profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yeah I can see where you are coming from. It does have a similar vibe.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a feeling it's going to be like Lost and that I'm gonna REGRET watching more episodes or following the series. So I think I'm not gonna watch the series anymore. I'll just stick with The Big Bang Theory. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago from South Brisbane, Australia

      nice hub


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