Author Topic: ABC Television's "The River"  (Read 375 times)

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Offline trapeze

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ABC Television's "The River"
« on: February 09, 2012, 12:52:29 AM »
I had the idea that perhaps "The River" would somehow be a better written (perhaps fewer dead ends and loose ends) version of "Lost" but I am afraid that this will turn out not to be the case. I had high hopes for it, if for no other reason, because it was loosely connected to Speilberg via Dreamworks Television Productions.

I realized very early on that I was probably not going to like this show because they had decided to use the currently trendy production technique referred to as "found footage." This technique which was popularized with "The Blair Witch Project" attempts to lend the production authenticity by pretending that everything you see is being filmed by one of the participants. In this case the participants agree to allow a film production company to go with and film them in exchange for providing financing for the trip into the Amazonian jungle. "Found footage" movies (and now television shows) usually employ a filming technique that I personally label as "drunken cameraman" or "hungover cameraman" or "shaky camera technique." I hate it.

The pilot starts out with the group motoring up river somewhere in the Amazon on a fairly new and very well equipped river boat. Within a few days the group discovers the missing locator beacon that had belonged to the star of a Wild Kingdom/Crocodile Hunter type of television star, Emmet Cole. The group includes Cole's son, wife and also the daughter of a cameraman who also disappeared. There is also a body guard who carries an arsenal of heavy artillery and (apparently) unlimited ammunition. Another group member is the boat mechanic and his Spanish-speaking daughter. The group is rounded out with a couple of cameramen.

Anyway...they find the beacon submerged in the middle of the river attached to some kind of a shark cage that looks as if whoever or whatever was inside it bent the heavy metal bars outward in order to escape. Now you would think that this might make an interesting jumping off point to begin unravelling the mystery of Cole's disappearance but the characters abandon this supposedly vital clue and inexplicably plunge off down some minor tributary (in a pair of small speed boats) where they...yep, you guessed it...magically discover Cole's boat.

Cole's boat is a wreck. And this is where the structure of the series starts to go bad. The boat shows signs that it has been abandoned long ago but also there is a lack of supporting evidence. I mean, they start flipping switches and the power comes on instantly. Plus it isn't over grown with jungle...Cole was missing long enough to be declared dead in the States and yet his boat isn't overgrown with jungle foliage. There is a mysterious noise emanating from a locked room. The call it the "panic room" and it's not just locked but the door is welded shut. Plus there are mysterious and sinister claw marks on all of the adjacent walls. And blood spattered everywhere. The group ignores all of these clues and decides that they had better start grinding the welds off of the door so that they can look inside. Once they get in they (surprise) unleash some kind of ghost or spirit that severely injures the daughter of the missing cameraman and then later kills and maybe even partially eats the caucasian cameraman.

The group decides that maybe they had better get the heck out of there only to discover that the mysterious and unseen monster thingy has destroyed their speed boats. Oops. So now they all work like busy beavers to get the long abandoned (yet fully powered by electricity) river boat moving. And (surprise) they do. Except the monster thingy follows them and does scary stuff with cameras shaking the whole time to ensure that you know that everyone is pretty scared and panicky. Inexplicably they capture the ghost monster thingy in a large wooden coconut shell and toss it into the river...yeah, that'll show it.

And then they are off down river to search for the next big clue to Cole's disappearance.

Now if it was me I would get my ass back to the new, clean, modern, fully equipped, fully stocked, fully fueled boat that they came up river in. But do they? Heck no. They inexplicably decide to abandon that boat and stay in the run down, stinky, dirty, filthy boat with all of the blood spattered walls...the boat that the monster thingy has just severely damaged...the boat with the unreliable engine and the not fully loaded fuel tank. Makes perfect sense when you think about it. Who wouldn't want to sleep in moldy mildew covered beds?

Anyway...the "pilot" was an hour long but they slapped episode two onto to it in a vain attempt to develop some audience interest and continuity. After watching the second hour for a few minutes it became evident that this was going to be a suckfest. It seems that the producers and writers are using the missing television star (Cole) as a thinly disguised mechanism to string the audience along while introducing some new terror of the jungle each week. So you think you are on a quest to find Cole but you really aren't. Instead it's sort of like "The Twilight Zone" in the Amazon with each week the cast finding themselves at the mercy of some new scary thingy. The producers go out of their way to really ramp up the scary and terrorize the actors to the point where you gotta believe that someone's heart is going to give out and they are just going to keel over and die right there on the spot.

I will quickly lose patience with a show that sells me one thing (the quest to find the missing guy(s)) and instead attempt to keep me busy with other stuff. Having struggled through the shaky camera crap for two hours I probably won't be back for that reason alone. BUT, even if it were filmed straight I don't think I could watch it. I just don't care to jump from one cliched monster/scary thing to another while almost totally ignoring the prime motivation for the group's presence. Plus it insults my intelligence to suggest that anyone but a pack of morons would NEVER go back to the fully stocked boat they came in. And it is stupid to make me try and believe that the mercenary bodyguard guy could show up with his entire arsenal and unlimited ammo by way of one trip via tiny speedboat to the rusty clunker boat. And where are their provisions? Where is their food and water supply? Where are their medical supplies? Where are the batteries for the cameras? Where are the batteries for the flashlights? And so on and so on...

Why should I entrust my viewing time to a show that demonstrates such a blatant disregard for my intelligence? Why should I invest myself in a show that is written by morons? Well, I'm not.


« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 03:35:37 PM by trapeze »
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Re: ABC Television's "The River"
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012, 06:45:26 AM »
When it gets to the end they were dead the whole time. The end.
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Offline Libertas

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Re: ABC Television's "The River"
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2012, 06:52:15 AM »
"found footage"

Hate that, gives me a freaking headache and I still don't know wtf is going on!

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Offline trapeze

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Re: ABC Television's "The River"
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2012, 08:08:15 AM »
Well, I had hoped that it might be an intelligent show that would, like "Lost," keep my attention piqued and keep me tuning in each week to see what happens next but it isn't and I won't be. They don't even have the smarts to make each episode end in a cliff hanger. Instead they wrap up each episode after having gotten away from that week's monster thingy with something like, "Whew! Glad we survived that...now let's keep moving so that we can find good 'ole Emmet!"

They have no fresh food other than what they find in the jungle. They have no more ammunition than what they brought with them on the two speed boats. They have no access to fuel. At least on "Lost" the writers made some attempt to keep the survivors re-supplied (however mysteriously) with fresh provisions. "Lost" ended quite unsatisfactorily and on that point everyone agrees but at least right up until the end the viewer wasn't thoroughly insulted by being asked to believe that the characters never had access to fresh food, water and the other necessities of human existence. The characters on this show are in an absolutely horrible environment, cut off from civilization with virtually nothing to live on and we are supposed to accept that as if it didn't matter? "Gilligan's Island" was like that but it was a stupid sitcom and the audience took that into account. This show expects to be taken seriously with the same basic premise.
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Offline LadyVirginia

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Re: ABC Television's "The River"
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2012, 09:22:44 AM »
Thanks, trap.  Your summary pretty much confirms what I suspected.  For a brief moment I thought about tuning in and then realized "this won't be good".
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Re: ABC Television's "The River"
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2012, 11:58:55 AM »
Quote
Why should I entrust my viewing time to a show that demonstrates such a blatant disregard for my intelligence? Why should I invest myself in a show that is written by morons? Well, I'm not.

Well now you've gone and defined the entire boob-toob industry.  :o

(I do appreciate you sacrifice of time and brain cells on this venture into the madness that is (very loosely) called entertainment)

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Re: ABC Television's "The River"
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2012, 12:00:49 PM »
That's trap; doing the crappy job so no one else has to.   ::beertoast::
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