Praise the Lord, because the new US TV Season is about to get under way.
Yes, we had gems like the Newsroom and Breaking Bad to keep us ticking over, but without the usual TV shows on the box over the summer we’re left to watch repeats or watch full runs of programmes that we missed in the last season.
For me, one such example is the ABC Drama – Revenge
What’s It About
Revenge is a story about – you guessed it – Revenge.
To be more exact, it’s the story of a woman in her 30s who has come back to town where she lived as a child under an assumed name, to take revenge on the people responsible for sending her late father to jail for a crime he didn’t commit, and in turn making her spend her formative years living in a sort of Young Offenders Prison.
The town in question is a small ocean-side one where America’s rich upper class go to live and throw extravagant parties throughout the summer months, and she’s able to move back there because she has become rich herself, thanks to being 49% owner of a Microsoft-like software company.
I could go into why she is, but you can just watch the show yourself…
Revenge is an interesting show in that it’s highly enjoyable and yet a bit crap at the same time.
The premise for the series is simple. Emily Thorne (played by charisma machine Emily VanCamp) is out for revenge, particularly against the Grayson Family, who are the super-rich lords of the manor responsible for framing her father.
The first few episodes are basically a ‘Fall guy of the week’ type affair as she takes down/discredits/ruins the lives of the Graysons’ friends, accountants, therapists and political allies, but then it turns more into a long game with her looking to get enough evidence to bring the family down for good.
And of course, like any good TV show, it branches off into a number of other directions to keep things interesting along the way.
So in terms of plot, Revenge keeps you on the hook and wanting to see what happens next.
It’s also got a good location. Sometimes I find some American TV shows can be difficult to associate with – initially at least – if they are set in grim and desolate locations. Of course, if the show is good, it can overcome that (Breaking Bad being a perfect example), but it does help if what you see in terms of setting and location appeals to the eyes; at least it does for me anyway.
And – though it’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing – the music, use of flashbacks and opening credits are reminiscent of Lost.
Where the show falters a little bit is the acting.
Some of the characters – like lead villainess Victoria Grayson – played by poster girl for facelifts going wrong, Madeleine Stowe – are ridiculously over the top, and akin to something you’d see in a show like As The World Turns or Days of Our Lives. Victoria is very ‘panto villain’ – despite attempts to make her seem more ‘human’ later on in the series – and makes you want to go ‘boo hiss’ whenever she’s on-screen.
There are also some characters that just aren’t necessary, with story arcs that have absolutely nothing to do with the main plot. In particular I’m talking about the dreadful Connor Paulo, who according to imdb was a fixture in Gossip Girl. Terrible actor, terrible character, totally pointless to the narrative. More likely he and his peers are in the show to get the teenage demographic on board. Whoopee.
It’s also got one of those English characters who speaks with an English accent so pronounced that they can only ever be found on American TV Shows. In this case it’s Ashley Madekwe as Ashley Davenport (hey, that’s the second character with the same name as the actor playing her. Either the people writing it are that unoriginal or the cast have Sid James Syndrome) who apparently comes from ‘a small town in England with a population of who cares called Croydon’. That’ll be the Croydon with a population of almost 350,000, which is similar to that of ‘lesser known’ US cities like Tampa, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. That’s some good research by the writers there…
Not all the characters are bad though. In particular, the guy who plays Tyler – Ashton Holmes – manages to do such a good job of being unlikeable and slimey that he’s up there with the guy who played Bill Kim in Prison Break in the ‘making a character so awful that I would love to punch him’ stakes.
On the whole though, the quality of acting isn’t so important in that it doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of the show. Indeed, the campness of it all adds a certain charm to it. It wouldn’t hold up in shows like Breaking Bad or the Newsroom because you expect better from them, but since Revenge is a bit far fetched anyway, it works.
Watching it, I did wonder how they could continue it beyond one season, but they manage it fine, and so I’m looking forward to it starting again in the next couple of weeks.
Should You Watch Revenge?
I’d happily recommend the show. It’s got a good flow to the plot and it kept me entertained and wanting to see more.
It’ll never be anyone’s favourite show (at least you’d hope not) but there are far worse ones out there that are supposed to be better.
So give it a chance and you may not be disappointed.