Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TV: The River

Did anyone else watch The River last night? It's a new horror/suspense/something show on ABC. According to the end of the premier there're only six more episodes of the season, so it's really more of a mini-series than a regular series anyway.

I watched it and I have to say I was neither impressed nor disappointed in it.

The basic idea is that there's a family; Tess (mom), Lincoln (son), and Emmett (father). The father, Emmett Cole, is a famous explorer whose television show followed the family around as they explored the world. Of course there's the requisite falling out between Lincoln and his father and the suspicion/knowledge that Tess cheated on Emmett at some point. But those are all things that are mentioned but not fleshed out in much detail just yet. At the start of the show Emmett has been missing for six months and he and his crew are declared dead. They had gone off on a strange (are you really surprised?), kind of secretive mission to the Amazon and vanished.

Tess convinces Lincoln, who is ready to try and move on, to come with her and some of the television crew to try and find the missing expedition. They tack down Emmett's beacon, which has suddenly and mysteriously turned on after being inactive for half a year, and find it inside a diving cage at the bottom of the river. With no sign of anyone. *makes spooky sounds*

They continue looking, even though everyone is *sure* that the crew is dead, and come across the boat that the missing expedition was using. Also mysteriously abandoned. Blah, blah, spooky shots of the interior, they come to the panic room on the boat (designed in case of pirate attack), which has been welded shut from the outside. There are banging noises coming from within, so the rescue mission believes that some of the crew are alive and trapped inside.

Eventually they restore power and bust the room open to discover...a creepy shrine looking thing, something that looks like a giant seed and no one home. The seed thing turns out to be a native made coffin for an infant which is also alternatively used to capture 'dry ghosts'. Which, shock, is what was in there. According to the recordings that are found on the boat, the producer that Emmett brought with him, Cam, died and for whatever reason came back as one of these dry ghosts. They captured his spirit inside the little coffin and sealed it up in the room after it had killed some other members of the crew.

So the rescue mission, having accidentally set the ghost free, as you do, try to flee. The ghost shreds their little rafts that they need to get back to the boat they were using. They get the Magus (Emmett's ship), going again in 2 hours. Even though it's been sitting in the Amazon for six months with no maintenance, but whatever. The ghost kills one of the camera men and then they manage to trap it back in the little coffin. Not before it tells them that Emmett is still alive somewhere though.

Point of logic: Lincoln decides to dump the ghost-pod into the river. Which seems to me like it would un-seal the pod since there's nothing holding the two halves together. Thus re-freeing the ghost to hunt more people. But whatever. *handwaves the logic*

That's the first hour.

Second hour, they're still on the Magus and there's another point of logic. They have a perfectly good boat without any rust or, you know, giant smears of blood on the walls. Why did they not use the Magus to get back to the non-damaged boat. Then they could still keep looking, but in a perfectly functioning boat. Anyway. Moving On.

Still searching. Through *mumbltyconvenientplotpoint* they pick a direction to look for Emmett which just happens to lead them to an old colonial cemetery. Which happens to be right next to a giant creepy tree with dolls tied to it. Not voodoo dolls or anything, just plain old baby dolls.

Blah, blah, they find Lincoln's childhood bear tied to the tree so they know they're on the right path. He takes the bear from the creepy tree of dolls and you just know that that's never a good idea. Later, there's footage of the dolls moving behind peoples backs and then when they all go to sleep something grabs Lincoln and pulls him out of his tent. The group freak, try to leave, and wind up running in a circle back to the tree. Try to leave again, something grabs Tess and tries to drag her under in this little stream. Back to the tree. Someone suddenly remembers an old story about a girl whose mother had no time for her. The girl fell into the river and drowned, then her spirit, still lonely, started luring people to the river to drown them. The locals, to appease her, started to leave dolls at a tree for her. Thus, creepy doll tree. So they figure Lincoln pissed her off and make him give back his bear.

Ghost girl rejects the bear. She's decided she wants her mommy. She lures Tess off and takes her into the river. In a brilliant move they decide that if they give the little ghost girl her real mother's body that she'll give back Tess. So they go back to the graveyard, find the ghost girl's grave - easily identifiable since the only thing it says on it is her name, 'Rachel' and something about being taken by the river. Then they find the mother's grave. Also easily identifiable because apparently there was only one woman on this expedition and her grave, conveniently, mentions her heartbreak at losing her daughter to the river. Dig, carry somehow fully articulated skeleton to the river and drop it in. Tess pops up in the open grave of Rachel's mom.

And after all that, they're still willing to keep looking for Emmett. The end.

It's's supposed to be a horror show, but there was nothing truly frightening about it. The doll tree was creepy, because really. Dolls. But that was a total rip on a real myth that actually exists in Mexico. See the Destination Truth episode, Island of the Dolls for that one. So far it seems like they're taking things that are supposed to be creepy and throwing them all at us. I'm fairly 'meh' about the show thus far, but I'm all about giving shows the chance to prove themselves so I'll withhold final judgment for a while yet.


  1. Mysteriously abandoned...I know this show isn't the first to do it, but it always seems weird to me. It wasn't "mysteriously abandoned." It was abandoned because the people who were in it got eaten by anacondas. Mystery solved! I mean, it's always in things like this, where they already supposedly assume the people died in any of the extremely likely natural ways you can die in that environment, especially if you are not from there and don't know how to live there.

    But no, I didn't watch it. I hadn't even heard of it. Reading your summary makes me think of Lost mixed with American Horror Story but thankfully kept short because we already have those things separately and done better?

    I like that they totally ripped off the Island of Dolls. That's not sarcastic, I really do. I love that creepy little island. And it's not like American Horror Story never used real people to inspire their background stories.

    1. *laughs* It's all true. They're in the middle of the freaking Amazon. There are a million ways for people to die and leave behind their boat/tent/research station. But it's always so *mysterious* to the people who come afterward, even though they've already been talking about all the very normal things that could have gone wrong and killed everyone!

      Yeah, it seems to be a smish of Lost and American Horror Story in many ways. We'll see.

      I totally accept the borrowing of real life horror legends, etc. for television. AHS did it all the time, but they did it well. This didn't come across as well done.


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