Are 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:
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?
Image courtesy ABC.