I was able check out ABC's new show The River a little early. You've probably seen the commercials and the marquee branding that it comes from Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli. Having watched the pilot, I gotta admit it's probably the best pilot I've ever seen since Lost.
It really grabs you from the opening scene and you get seriously mesmerized by it all. Sometimes in pilots, they think they need to establish characters so you all know who is who. The River touches on a few character developments but doesn't get bogged down in the details. It knows it'll get into that in later episodes.
What The River does well is jump right into the shit you wanna see. So what's that exactly?
A Steve Irwin (but American) like TV explorer and wildlife guru and his family were stars of a hit weekly TV show where they discovered new species and got into the adventures (you know Swiss Family Robinson style I guess). Years later, dear old dad seems to have gone missing and his wife, his son and a new TV crew go searching for the long lost star explorer. They're joined by a hot blonde (there is always a hottie and who also lost her dad in the last expedition), a few TV producers and camera guys and a South American guide with his daughter and it's bon voyage into the Amazon.
Filmed with that Paranormal Activity style of shaky cam footage (via the cameramen), surveillance shots, old archived footage and traditional TV style, it all works on all those different levels. Soon these rag tag group locates a beacon that is suppose to be from Dr. Emmet Cole, our intrepid adventurer and they locate and search an abandoned boat of the long lost crew. But then shit starts hitting the fan.
Magical unseen forces are wreaking havoc, weird footage of dad doing Amazonian things and a glimpsed at story from the natives is told. A few scenes had me going WTF. But it's the pure awesomeness of Peli and his sight beyond sight that makes The River standout. We get a mythos in the pilot, a few blurry attacks and a good ole WTF death scene. Awesome.
Sure it's basically Paranormal Activity meets Lost. The characters all seem to echo a bit of shadiness and our "Jack" character is now called Lincoln Cole. But all in all, something seems not right and the mystery really does hook you. The dragonflies are all quirky and the mysterious entity that "seeks blood" isn't just shutting doors or flickering lights but outright attacking the castaways.
The River looks promising and I'm going to definitely check out series. There is already so much good horror TV shows probably on your plate but I'm banking on the natives and the river to slaughter and cannibalize this millennial version of the SS Minnow.
The River premieres on February 7th 2012 (Tuesday) on ABC.
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