Revenge (pilot) – review


Wrongs being righted, and ruthless millionaire villains given exactly what they deserve – there’s something inherently satisfying in the DNA of Revenge, ABC’s modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo.  Much like the classic tale, this is a story of (as you might have guessed from the title) revenge, plain and simple – a young girl whose life was destroyed comes back to serve the dish best served cold, and I have to say I rather enjoyed the show.

Since her Everwood days, I’ve always liked Emily VanCamp as an actress, and here (playing Emily Thorne) she once again manages to bring a likability to her role, even as her character is pursuing an unhealthy vendetta. Madeline Stowe (as Victoria Grayson) makes for a perfect ice queen for Emily to try and crack, and it’s going to be a lot of fun watching these two women square off over the course of the season. Already we can see the looming danger for Emily in that her quest for revenge could easily turn her into the very thing she hates – Victoria.

For me, the strength of this show is that it has all of the fun of a soap without the camp. Revenge doesn’t lack for attractive cast members or melodrama, but tone-wise it’s definitely not Desperate Housewives, and I found the slightly darker, more serious mien to be very refreshing. The setting of Southampton perfectly conveys the privileged world Emily is infiltrating, and it seethes with fun undercurrents of power and influence. I very much had the sense that Emily was playing with fire, and that the players in this game would destroy her in an instant if they discovered her true purpose – it added a nice flavor of tension to the proceedings.

As for the structure of the show, the pilot starts off interestingly enough with events somewhat in the future, setting up a mystery on a couple of levels before taking us back to the beginning and showing us how it all began. I don’t know if they’re going to continue those flashes, or if those opening scenes were a hook into the entire season, but it definitely left me intrigued.

Is this show perfect? Not at all – and if they don’t continue to develop the characters, it could quickly get repetitive – but I like the set-up very much (I’m a sucker for The Counte of Monte Cristo). From this pilot, Revenge definitely has a earned a season pass on my Tivo – here’s hoping it continues to deserve it.

Revenge premieres 10 PM, Wednesday, September 21 on ABC.