“There’s magic out there.” It is becoming clear that these words are the driving force behind ABC’s new show the River. To date (at the time I wrote this post) the show has aired two episodes. The first episode was a two hour long event and, when it comes down to it, was two episodes rolled into one. The double episode was good television but nothing could prepare me for the episode that aired on Tuesday February 14th.
The show chronicles the search for a man named Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood). Dr. Emmet Cole spent the majority of his life on camera, traveling around the world as the star of the fictional nature show Undiscovered Country. The show stared Emmet but also had a strong family presence involving his wife, Tess Cole (Leslie Hope), and his son, Lincoln Cole (Joe Anderson). After the show had been running for over twenty years and Lincoln had grown up and gone through college, Emmet decided to take one last trip into the Amazon and never returned. Legally declared dead, Emmet’s wife refuses to let him go. The same network that produced Undiscovered Country have offered to pay for Tess’ search for Emmet under two conditions. The first is that Lincoln (who has grown to hate his father) and Tess both go on the search and the second is that the entire expedition be filmed. The group quickly discovers that the show’s well known saying, “there’s magic out there”, was much more than just a catchy phrase. Dr. Emmet Cole had been searching for and had discovered magic. It appears that each new episode is going to revolve around a new supernatural being or event.
The show is shot from hand held and surveillance cameras, making it seem as if it really were a reality television show. The show came from the mind of Oren Peli, the same man who is behind the Paranormal Activity franchise, and the way it is shot is very similar to the films. Eerily creepy, the show uses its unique filming technique to create suspense and fear. The first double episode was kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Ghost possessions, a tree full of hanging dolls, a ghost that drowns people and a spirit so evil the ground won’t take it all appear in the first two hours of the show, creating a chillingly entertaining series premiere. While entertaining, the premiere did have some lacking qualities. There were some holes in the story and some scenes that were corny but overall it was great television. The River’s most recent episode, technically the third episode, was outstanding.
In the third episode, a group of warriors called Los Ciegos encounters the search party. Before the search party can go any further, Los Ciegos must judge them from the shadows to determine if they are worthy of living or not. To make matters worse, something supernatural or natural is causing spontaneous blindness throughout the group. As they try and survive Los Ciegos and cure their blindness, tensions run high and the result is an amazing hour of television. If you haven’t tried the show, give it a shot and if the first two episodes don’t draw you in, the third one is sure to leave you wanting more. I can’t wait to see what else the River has in store and what other supernatural things are waiting in the Amazon to crawl out and scare the crap out me.