The Hamptons are known for wealth and the glamorous crowd that congregates on the beaches in the summer. “Revenge,” a new series on ABC, tries to exploit this picture of the Hamptons while simultaneously exploring its darker underbelly.
Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
But the fact is, throwing some beautiful people on a beach just won’t give the producers the gritty feel they are probably hoping for. “Revenge” is a modern day reworking of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Emily Thorne’s (Emily VanCamp, “Everwood”) father, once a cornerstone of Hamptons society, was thrown in jail because he was betrayed by his business partners, who later murdered him. Only a little bit of background information for this boring plotline is given in the first episode, and it doesn’t make much sense. In the meantime, released from juvenile hall, Emily has gone back to the Hamptons to weasel her way into the good graces of the powerful, only to take them down one by one.
It’s not a bad storyline, but the show tries to hold itself back a little too much. “Revenge” is made out of the stuff of classic soap operas, yet it has no flavor of guilty indulgence. It’s kind of like a refrained “The O.C.,” taking itself too seriously and slowing itself down with voiceovers, flashbacks and moments of meditation. Drama is not the main focus. Rather, the characters are supposed to slowly unravel on the screen.
Nonetheless, the style suits VanCamp’s character, a cautious assassin, and she comes across as sweet and unassuming. That’s good for her because it’s less likely she’ll be caught, but it’s boring for the viewer, who has to sit around and watch her pout. If Emily has any mettle, it has not been revealed, so it’s hard to understand how she is supposed to sustain interest for an entire season.
Similarly, Madeleine Stowe (“Raines”) who plays the show’s villain and Hamptonite Queen, Victoria Grayson, has had a substantial amount of Botox, so it’s difficult to tell what’s going on in her character’s mind. Though perhaps this makes the show more realistic — lots of people in the Hamptons have probably had a lot of Botox.
Thankfully, the cast is saved (at least in the pilot) by Joshua Bowman (“Make It or Break It”) who plays Victoria Grayson’s son and Emily Thorne’s romantic interest. He’s not a good actor, but he looks really good in seersucker. Feast your eyes on him while you can, because he gets shot in the first scene of the pilot.
It’s the little things, like killing off the best-looking male character, that tend to get in the way and inhibit the general flow of the story. For example, Emily had a dog when she was about eight years old. That dog has been in the care of a childhood friend of hers since she’s been away and plotting her revenge. Yet when she returns to the Hamptons (roughly 20 years later) the dog is still alive, and just as sprightly as ever. For some viewers, such minor inconsistencies may not be an issue, but for others it will. While “Revenge” could easily become a guilty pleasure, it’s hard not to get caught up in the little flaws.