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Thursday
Oct062011

'Revenge' is ABC's Juicy-Good Hit of the Season

TV REVIEW: ABC’s Revenge is everyone’s fantasy, and a lot of folks’ favorite new TV show.

 

 

By Robbie Woliver

 

Since Revenge is best served cold, every scene on this hit ABC show has an ice sculpture. (Credit: ABC)

 

THE PREMISE: Very loosely based on Alexander Dumas’ classic The Count of Monte Cristo, Revenge has become a hit out of the box. Emily Van Camp’s Amanda Clarke returns to the tony Hamptons (she grew up there 17 years prior) as Emily Thorne (get it, the thorn in their side) to exact revenge on a long list of double-crossing SOBs who framed her father, David Clarke (James Tupper), for terrorism, a charge for which he was arrested and imprisoned, where he eventually died.  At age 18, she was released from “the system” and inherited her father’s wealth, which allows her to, well, do just about anything she wants in her quest for vengeance. 

THE CHATTER: Revenge is the Adele of the new TV season; everyone, no matter what their demographic, seems to love it. And why not? It’s wicked fun and who doesn’t savor revenge?

THE REALITY: Revenge has provided a perfect formula: young, pretty girl gets revenge—weekly!—on a series of no good bums. Rich no-good bums. While thousands are demonstrating against the excesses of Wall Street in the ever-growing Occupy Wall Street protests, Emily takes on these heartless moneymen/women with a delicious glee.  The first week’s revenge was thoroughly satisfying; the second, against a hedge fun exec, made Emily more transparent as the perpetrator (which she was delightfully not for the first revenge) and no one wants their heroine found out; but in the third episode she was invisible once again, thanks to her super-hacker friend Nolan. The goal, of course, is to bring down the family that destroyed her—the impossibly rich Graysons. The series began in real-time with the murder of Emily’s fiancé, Daniel Grayson (Josh Bowman) and now each week we see how we got there. 

THE PLAYERS: Emily VanCamp, who you might know from Everwood and Brothers & Sisters, is simply stunning in this role. Her acting chops are superb. I caught myself marveling at how natural this terrific reactive actress was in one scene where she was just standing, observing. Being beautiful certainly helps, and when you add a bad girl attitude to her elegant young-money persona, you have a winner of a leading character. The villain is Madeline Stowe who plays the disgustingly wealthy matriarch Victoria Grayson. Another beauty, Stowe icily puts away her enemies with ease—and Emily is certainly in her sights. But wait, do we find a soft spot beating in this wicked heart? Episode 3 hinted at the possibility that Victoria might not be such a baddie after all—she was romantically involved with Emily’s dad, and tried to prevent the prosecution. But she didn’t, did she? Along the lines of Alexis Carrington, but thankfully not as over-the-top, Madeline Stowe steals her scenes with her steely stare. And the dynamic is really about these two women. Nolan Ross’ Gabriel Mann adds an intriguing quirkiness to his characters’ mix, as he helps Emily with her plan, even though Emily barely gives him the time of day. With an apparent deadened heart, she trusts no one—not even this young man who owes his immeasurable wealth to her father who he idolized. 

THE POTENTIAL: Revenge has already met its potential. It has us all hooked. We anxiously wait for this polished gem to serve up another cold dish of revenge—how she gets there is a road worth travelling, and the side stories like reuniting with her childhood love is also well worth the time. And don’t forget—someone was murdered.

 

CLASSIC/FUN DIVERSION/TOTAL LOSS: CLASSIC and FUN DIVERSION

BETTER THAN/EQUAL TO/NOT AS GOOD AS: Revenge is BETTER THAN Ringer; EQUAL TO: The Simpsons “Revenge is A Dish Best Served Three Times; NOT AS GOOD AS: The Count of Monte Cristo

 

IN OTHER WORDS: A slick, juicy, well-acted blueprint for The List I have of my own.

 

REVENGE RATING: 9.4/10

CMJ MUST BE MUSIC SUPERVISOR RATING: 9/10

VENGEANCE: BEST THING EVER RATING: ubersatisfying/10

OCCUPY WALL STREET RATING: 1776/2011

 

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