With the final episode of Desperate Housewives airing earlier this month, E4 made its pre-emptive move to introduce a new drama for a bereaved audience tonight. Revenge continues the trend of E4 showing slick US dramas about affluent, exclusive communities. Revenge works on a simple formula â it has taken the white suits and boats from The O.C, moved it to the East Coast, and added the marital dramas and machiavellian schemes from Desperate Housewives.
The premise for Revenge, a young woman plotting the downfall of those responsible for the incarceration and death of her innocent father, could be straight out of a hardboiled noir, and of course the very nature of a television show about exacting revenge puts it in exploitation territory.
Yet unlike previous film and television pieces exploring this area, Revenge is not gritty. There are no shadowy alleyway scenes, no beating rain illuminated by blue neon. Revenge is gloss, almost minimalist. The dominant colour is white. The houses, the boats, the dresses, the suits, the skin, all white. And not to mention the teeth. Like The O.C and Desperate Housewives, Revenge plays heavily on our fetish with aspiration. The action takes place in the Hamptons, an area with some of the highest property prices in the United States. The characters are idols of Grecian ideals, with the exception of one, who is portrayed as a creep, naturally.
Aesthetics aside, there is plenty to like about Revenge. The first episode is well-paced, opening with a murder, before making good use of flashbacks (there are actually flashbacks within flashbacks, something I’m not sure even Lost managed to wrangle), a notable scene being a police raid where the then child Amanda (Emily VanCamp) is forcibly separated from her subsequently arrested father, which is quite intense, and certainly reminiscent of the EliÃ¡n GonzÃ¡lez affair.
Given that it was a pilot episode, many characters were introduced, and there was little room for the actors to flesh out their roles, something which I trust will happen as the series progresses. There are no acting complaints, the introduction of the characters was handled well and there was no feeling of it being a rushed affair, which is so common with pilots.
Revenge does occasionally swing and miss. The opening narration is clumsy, with such lines as âBut two wrongs can never make a right. Because two wrongs can never equal each other.â? Whilst this may of sounded profound at the writer’s desk, ultimately it doesn’t really mean anything, and thus loses whatever impact it may have had. One of the male love interest seems to have a character plucked straight out of the chick-flick bible, he owns a boat (which he intends to use to sail to Haiti as part of a charity exercise), and of course, a yellow Labrador, making him effectively a stock character.
Overall, Revenge is an enjoyable, if easy watch. How sustainable it will be over multiple seasons remains to be seen.