Wednesday, June 6, 2012

'The River' Complete First Season DVD (Review)

ABC's 'The River' had the premise that could have been in the likes of "Lost" but somehow it failed to fully live up to it's potential. It had some chills and thrills but to me it just didn't work to live up to the buzz that it was given prior to airing. The series having only lasted a mere 8 episodes could have been a real hit with viewers.

Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) has fronted the nature series "The Undiscovered Country" for twenty-two years, but when he cuts his usual crew loose, leaving his wife Tess (Leslie Hope) and son Lincoln (Joe Anderson) back home. Then heads off into the depths of the Amazon “looking for magic,” it is to no surprise when suddenly goes missing. His former producer Clark Quietly (Paul Blackthorne) gets the go-ahead from a network to completely fund an expedition to find him if his wife and son will go along and if the entire venture is filmed. The just found footage of their two months on the Amazon constitute the contents of the show’s eight episodes.

Pushing the documentary approach to storytelling to the extreme, the series uses the same “docu-style” or "found footage" approach to each episode’s narratives that was used in  The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield. The series though is rapidly edited, almost schizophrenic back and forth between sharp, detailed footage and the grainy, glitch-filled low resolution camerawork takes some getting used to, and some viewers may never get used to it. The writers have one of the most exotically mysterious and creepily unknown parts of the world as their playground (the interior Boiúna region of the Amazon), but instead of keeping most of their spooks in our imaginations, the episodes are ripe with possessed dolls, ghosts, a mysterious blinding powder, zombies, and, for a finale, demonic possession. While there are enough “jolt” moments to satisfy the younger members of the family, the "evil" that had been conjured up to battle the characters here in each episode really push one’s tolerance for silliness to the breaking point.

Performances were very good, not great. However, Bruce Greenwood playing the lost explorer turns up on the majority of episodes in videotapes found at various points along the way. In the episode “Doctor Emmet Cole,” however, he’s center stage in the series’ one true standout episode struggling to survive in the jungle, and it’s the episode which best illustrates how superlative the series could have been if the writing throughout had been this imaginative. Most of  the episode’s shocks are found here in the use of sound effects like the odd rustling in the brush or with our seeing the results of some unknown encounter.  Leslie Hope’s alternately fierce and frail wife holds our attention in each program, and Joe Anderson matches her scene-for-scene as the bitter son resentful that his father’s television program has always taken priority over him. Thomas Kretschmann (as security chief Captain Kurt Brynildson) has some secrets he’s keeping close to his vest while Eloise Mumford (Lena) as the daughter of Cole’s cameraman (Lee Tergesen as Russ) in a couple of  guest star appearances midway in the run) as a possible love interest for the young males on board and a spitfire herself in her determination to find her own father lost with Cole in the jungle.

Overall Thoughts: 
While I did have a somewhat enjoyable experience watching (minus the shaky camera-at times). The story took sometime to get your attention. At times, I found myself bored and/or annoyed at horrid acting. It was fully able to do so much more but on a failed on the account of the "cheesy" use of CGI scares.

Favorite episodes: "Los Ciegos", "Magus"

                                               THE RIVER COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Studio: ABC Studios
Year: 2012
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 344 minutes
Region: 1 US
Number of Disc: 2
Rating: TV-14
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Retail Value : $25.99
Release Date: May 22, 2012

  • 1 -Magus
  • 2 – Marbeley
  • 3 – Los Ciegos
  • 4 – A Better Man
  • 5 – Peaches
  • 6 – Doctor Emmet Cole
  • 7 – The Experiment
  • 8 – Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Jaume Collet Serra

Bruce Greenwood- Dr Emmet Cole
Joe Anderson- Lincoln Cole
Leslie Hope- Tess Cole
Eloise Mumford- Lena Landry
Paul Blackthorne- Clark Quietly
Thomas Kretschmann- Captain Kurt Brynildson
Daniel Zacapa- Emilio Valenzuela
Shaun Parkes- Andreus Jude "AJ" Poulain
Paulina Gaitan- Jahel Valenzuela
Scott Michael Foster- Jonas Beckett

Special Features:

13 Deleted Scenes 

Two Episode(s) Commentary: Of the pilot "Magus" and the finale episode "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"

Behind The Scenes: 'Magic Is Out There' is a little over 18 minutes of a look at the making of the series with commentary from the producers, director Jaume Collet Serra and some of the cast.

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