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TV Review: Revenge

ABC offers up a sudsy, Hamptons-set take on The Count of Monte Cristo.

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With daytime soaps facing the end of their days, it seems that primetime television is left to pick up where they left off. Enter the glossy tale of reprisals that is Revenge, a drama that's high on style but light on substance.

When young socalite Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) rents a home in the Hamptons, she's looking for more than just a beachside view. The last time she visited the high-class resort area, she was a child and her name was Amanda Clark, but her life changed forever when several friends and neighbors conspired to accuse her father of terrorism. Now older and more resourcesful, Emily has returned to exact justice against those that wronged her family. And her brand of justice is the kind that is dealt out slowly, manipulatively and not always logically.

Only two episodes in, I can already say that the plot against her father seems ridiculously convulted, involving a large number of people, all of whom must have had something substantial to gain from such a high-stakes endeavor. Revenge is tight-lipped on these type of details, though, presumably so that it can stretch the plotting on indefinitely. Motives are hinted at, but are never fully discussed. As to Emily's idea of righteousness, it comes off a bit light-handed. If you're father died in prison, serving time for a crime he had nothing to do with, I would think you'd come up with something a little more heinous than financial ruin or being a social outcast. Though perhaps Emily's biggest plans are being saved for Victoria Grayson (Madeline Stowe), who's clearly the wicked witch of this tale and succeeds at being far more frightening than her adversary.

While Emily VanCamp is very convincing as a cosmopolitan young woman, she lacks the pathos that one would expect from someone with her history. She's icy cold even when dealing out the sentences she's waited so long to deliver. There are a few moments where she encounters a friends from her youth (Nick Wechsler) where a spark of her former self is visible, but its too fleeting and insubstantial. Instead, we're left to rely on flashbacks and voiceovers to connect with Emily's plight and they just can't get the job done. In the end, Revenge fails to be little more than pretty people being mean to each other in dull ways.

Revenge premieres Wednesday 9pm on ABC.

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