TV Review - Revenge

Emily VanCamp is a beautiful, 25-year-old Canadian actress who first caught my attention when she co-starred in the TV series Everwood when she was 16. She worked on that show for four years. When she was 21, she joined the cast of Brothers & Sisters. But, if you're familiar with VanCamp in those roles, be prepared for a new side of her, a cold and conniving side.

To me, VanCamp's new series has much in common with the other new series Ringer. It too is a noir soap opera. It has all the elements of the dishy, daytime dramas, but it goes always for the darker elements. Soap operas always angle toward the positive, toward love and redemption. Revenge wears its hatred and pessimism on its sleeve.

VanCamp stars as Emily Thorne, but this isn't her real name. Her real name is Amanda Clarke. Her father was David Clarke, a man who was destroyed by the Grayson family. The Grayson family is a powerful and very influential family in New York that resides in the Hamptons. When they destroyed David Clarke, Amanda was only a little girl.

She hasn't seen the Grayson family or been back to the Hamptons in over a decade or so, and she's spent that amount of time figuring out exactly how she will make the family pay for what they did. She comes up with a very sinister plan, and this series is her execution of that plan.

The first part is to change her name to Emily Thorne. The second part is to position herself next to them. Literally, she buys the beach house next to the Grayson family and starts living there. The third part is to ingratiate herself into their family. One way she does that is by seducing the Grayson's eldest son, Daniel, played by Joshua Bowman.

Madeleine Stowe co-stars as Victoria Grayson, Daniel's mother and the head of the Grayson family, a very snobbish, very controlling matriarch. Victoria appears to be Emily's main target, but in the mean time Emily sets her sights on everyone around Victoria, everyone who helped and played a part, big or small, in David Clarke's downfall. Each episode focuses on one particular person.

Each episode establishes how that one particular person played a part in David's demise. By the end, you witness how Emily dispenses with that person. She started as a sort of lone gunmen, but a friend from her past who is a wealthy and slightly wicked loner named Nolan Ross, played by Gabriel Mann, has joined her. He has unwantingly become the Robin to her Batman.

Yet, we're not supposed to think of her as a crime fighter. She's a vigilante of a kind, if you could call a Hamptons socialite in gorgeous gowns and high-heeled shoes a vigilante. Needless to say, she's not a hero in the traditional sense. Admittedly, neither was Batman, but Batman was never about punishing people. Batman was about delivering the bad guys to the cops. Emily isn't about that. Sending these people to jail is the last thing she wants. She wants them to suffer and to hurt, not necessarily physically but in myriads of other ways.

But, the question is how far will she go. Is she or is she not above killing? There's also the question of what will she do once her plan is completed, if the truth about her isn't discovered before then. Victoria isn't stupid. She has a sneaky suspicion about Emily. She hires an investigator named Frank Stevens, played by Max Martini.

In addition to the Grayson family, there is also the Porter family. Nick Wechsler (Roswell) plays Jack Porter, the eldest son of Carl Porter, the owner of a restaurant and bar in the Hamptons that is currently struggling and faces bankruptcy. Jack is significant because he was in love with Amanda before her father's destruction and before she left. He represents the line connecting her back to a time before she became who she is now. He represents a pure part of herself, a part that was lost that she may or may not want to find.

Jack's brother is Declan Porter, played by Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl). He has a crush on the Grayson's eldest daughter, Charlotte Grayson. While he's still a teenager whose concerns aren't as heavy or important. He represents a choice that might be a fundamental theme that will probably recur. Charlotte has a boyfriend named Adam who is the epitome of the entitled, spoiled teenage brat. Declan enlists Nolan's help to get an advantage over Adam, which he could use to destroy Adam. Yet, Declan doesn't. He instead just puts himself out there and is honest about how he feels for Charlotte. Declan could have utilized revenge but he chose not to do so.

It remains to be seen if Emily will ever make that choice or use that kind of restraint. The way that she's going it seems unlikely. She may face that dilemma when it comes to Daniel for whom her feelings may become gray. He is clearly falling for her, but whether or not her emotions are reciprocal remain to be seen.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesdays at 10PM on ABC.


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