[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Revenge," ABC
The Pitch:"It's a reverse-gendered 'Count of Monte Cristo' *by* people who have never read 'Count of Monte Cristo' and *for* people who have never read 'Count of Monte Cristo.'"
Quick Response: For years, I've always thought that it was mind-boggling that nobody had made a high school version of of "Count of Monte Cristo." The concept seemed like such a no-brainer. Well, now ABC has *kinda* done a high school version, only the main characters are pretending to be in their 20s, even if they look indistinguishable from the current cast of "90210." No matter how old the characters are supposed to be, "Revenge" is a trashy teen soap set in the Hamptons, an effort far better suited for The CW than ABC and not especially well suited for airing in the fall and winter months where it's going to be stuck. And even though referencing "Monte Cristo" is unavoidable, it hasn't even scraped the skin of Dumas, so just as ABC's press material ignores any possible literary root, viewers would be well advised to do the same (easier done from some than others). A few people loved "Swingtown," but my feeling is that Mike Kelley has a tendency to embrace trashiness and he's found a willing co-conspirator in "Salt" and "Patriot Games" director Phillip Noyce, who's gleefully slumming on the pilot, practically parodying the Aussie thrillers (like "Dead Calm") on which he cut his teeth. Wacky camera angle! Corny musical sting! Vampy starlet casting an all-too-knowing scowl! Or maybe it isn't parody? Maybe sometimes you hire Phillip Noyce and you get the director of "The Quiet American" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence" and even Showtime's "Brotherhood" and sometimes you get the director of "Sliver." Here? "Sliver." I've always liked Emily Van Camp, but I wouldn't have guessed her capable of playing a vengeful badass and the pilot didn't sway me, especially a flashback sequence towards the end that had me laughing out loud. She's cute and winsome and her character knows and repeats a lot of quotes about revenge, but Blair Waldorf would tear her to shreds. None of the other young actors even vaguely register, other than the weirdness of seeing Connor Paolo (speaking of "Gossip Girl") fumbling through an attempt to play blue-collar. On the "older" side of the equation, Madeleine Stowe and Henry Czerny are in a different, more grown-up show, not that Czerny has ever been afraid to ham it up. Like a dumber "Damages," "Revenge" opens on a murder and flashes back to the set-up months earlier, but I hope the producers have a one-season resolution in mind.
Desire To Watch Again: There's nothing about "Revenge" that I would categorize as "good," other than the reasonably high production values, but this is still the sort of cheesy series I could see watching for a little while. As potential guilty pleasures go, this is still far above The CW's somewhat similarly tawdry, tacky "Ringer."
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.