The River: A TV Series Worth Watching?

The River TV seriesAre you ready for a scare? ABC is hoping that you are since tonight marks the debut of The River, their new paranormal/adventure/horror series.

On The River, famed explorer and TV host Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) went looking for magic in the uncharted Amazon and vanished six months ago. Now, Dr. Cole’s emergency beacon has suddenly gone off. His wife (Leslie Hope) and son (Joe Anderson) join a rescue party that’s funded by a documentary that’s documenting the dangerous rescue. Others in the cast include Paul Blackthorne, Eloise Mumford, Daniel Zacapa, and Thomas Kretschmann.

Is The River worth your time? Here’s what some of the critics say:

Boston Herald: “The makers of the River deserve credit for spilling so much of their X-Files myth-ology from the start, but there’s not enough reason to book passage on this voyage of the bland.”

NY Daily News: “The problem with ABC’s new paranormal mystery drama The River is that when your story revolves around a guy who disappeared, the viewer has to care about finding him. No offense to Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), but to be honest, tramping through the remote corners of the Amazon in search of clues to his current whereabouts feels like it may be more trouble than it’s worth… If the central mystery is more finite and manageable [than Lost] — what happened to Dr. Cole? — then perhaps the larger story won’t become overwhelming. Perhaps. The River still requires the viewer to pay at least semi-close attention, though, and the question is how many will want to sign on for the ride.

THR: “Finally, a successor to Lost with potential. There’s a whole lot going on in this horror-adventure from the creator of Paranormal Activity, but whether the series can last beyond its initial eight-episode order without the suspense petering out remains to be seen.”

Boston Globe: “Whether or not viewers take themselves to The River, ABC and the creators deserve credit for one thing: There is nothing that looks like this show on television right now… Employing a similar found footage” approach provides The River” with several layers of visuals and ably conjures the sticky humidity, cramped quarters, and general grime of its settings on the ship and in the jungle.”

USA Today: “If you’re looking for depth or common sense, look away from The River (ABC, Tuesday, 9 ET/PT; *** out of four), a lost-in-the-Amazon spook show that is, intellectually speaking, closer to Lost in Space than Lost. If, however, you’re in the mood for a weekly dose of first-rate and practically gore-free frights — the kind that may give you nightmares, but won’t turn your stomach or cause your children to ask you embarrassing American Horror-style questions about sexual perversions — this is the trip for you.”

LA Times: “As on an episodic crime procedural, The River seems poised to offer a series of discrete encounters with the otherworldly, written with a copy of The Big Book of Amazonian Folk Tales open nearby, as it goes along its long-arc way. This many minutes into a horror film, all the characters but one would already be dead, given the near-universal tendency to run toward rather than away from the loud crash or the rustling in the brush… But as this is television, there is some investment in keeping them alive.”

Washington Post: “There’s paranormal, and then there’s para-puhleeez. The line between those two can be quite fine, especially when results vary from viewer to viewer.”

NY Times: “The River is the second new show in two nights, after Smash, and the third this season (after Terra Nova) to bear the imprimatur of Steven Spielberg as executive producer. Add those to his films War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, released within a week of each other in December, and there may be a lesson about spreading yourself too thin.”

What do you think? Will you watch the two-hour premiere of The River? If you’ve seen it, will you watch the next episode?

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48 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. PAMELA UNGER says

    I watched last night’s 2-hour premier of The River and I’ve never been so disappointed in anything in my life. I thought Spielberg was better than that. I usually will watch anything he produces but after this, I may think again. It reminded me of advertisement scenes from the Blair Witch Project. Sub-par Mr. Spielberg. I sure hope you’re planning on a second season of Terra Nova. It’s the finest TV you’ve done to date.

  2. vore says

    Oh crap…didn’t want to hear that. I recorded it and I’ll watch it when I have 3-4 shows on disc. Hope I’m not wasting my time and DVR usage.

  3. Joe says

    this show was a huge disappointment for me so far, the trailers mad it look so much better then it was. The cast is just h,orrible in this show, they are boring as

  4. Dennis says

    The show may have been better if you could actually hear and understand the dialog.
    Too much background noise and charectors seemed to speak with a mouth full of crap.

  5. Sarah says

    My husband and I gave it an honest shot. The characters have no chemistry, the acting is god awful and awkward… *sigh*

  6. TommyT says

    WOW! What a stupid show, unless you’re 13 years old. The vignettes were crazy. Spielberg trying to make dumb, ridiculous scene ideas scary. Hope they have the biggest, baddest, meanest batteries for their flash lights because they’ll need them for eight weeks! What a waste of two hours!

  7. James says

    I thought it was really good. Been waiting for a show to replace lost and heroes I hope this one doesn’t get canceled.

  8. Bethany says

    I had set to record it and it didn’t record. Hoping to catch it on OnDemand tomorrow. Wasn’t sure if I would like it by the ads, and from the sound of it I probably won’t. But with my luck I will find the magic mix that makes me love a show, and have it canceled out from under me before it even gets its footing. At least that is how most shows run these days.

  9. Jacob says

    Holy crap, this show is good. Wish this season had more than 8 episodes, can’t wait to see where oren peli takes this one!

  10. says

    just finished watching it I thought it was on the same idea as Blair witch project but had WAY TO MANY COMMERCIALS!! Not enough show and going into to many directions sad trailer looked good. Not to hopeful this show will last boring cast members.

  11. Robyn says

    Im trying to watch, but theres WAY too many commercials for me to stay interested. Too bad because it looked good

    • vore says

      I have a Magnavox DVR (well I have 2 actually) I record the shows and then have a blast editing out all the commercials. Then this wonderful DVR allows me to to dub all my shows onto a disc for a marathon run on Saturdays and Sundays….get the popcorn ready!

      I can never go back to watching shows in real time anymore. Been watching shows like this for 3-4 years now. Commercials are a thing of the past.

  12. The Critic says

    I hear Steven Spielberg produces this show as well as Smash, Terra Nova, and Falling Skies. He has two movies in theaters: War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin. And he was executive producer of Transformers 3 and a producer on Real Steel. Wow, Spielberg. Get your money but if you can, squeeze in a nap.

    • Mikey says

      Agree. He has been far to busy lately. But, I still look up to Steven.

      Anyway, I did enjoy this show. It’s kinda creepy though.

    • vore says

      Are you suggesting that Steven is spreading himself to thin? I was wondering how much time he actually invests in each show he produces. Does he read each script for each show? Does he really get involved in the production or direction or does he merely pass it off to others he trusts?

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