“The River” Season 1 — A Slice of SciFi Reader Review

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On the last couple of listener feedback shows, we’ve asked for reaction, thoughts and feedback on ABC’s The River.

Slice listener and reader Heather from St. Louis has seen the series, including the recently aired season finale. She took the time to review the first season and offer some thoughts on it. We’re including it here on the Slice web site to help spark the conversation about this series.

Please note: This review contains SPOILERS for the entire first season of The River. If you have it on a DVR or plan to watch it on DVD in the future and don’t want any of the surprises from the season SPOILED, please bookmark this article for later.

With the season finale ending not 18 minutes ago, I figured I’d write a mini review for the Slice of Sci fi crew so they can decide if they want to go back and watch the show or not. Taking the bullet so you guys don’t have too, as it were.

Let me first say, if you are not a fan of Orin Peli or any of the Paranormal Activity movies, you won’t like this series. Second, eight episodes was the perfect amount to tell the story and end it without dragging or the audience getting bored with it. If anything, I wish more televisions shows will take this idea and run with it. It was like a little mini series.

The synopsis of this series was Dr. Emmit Cole takes a crew and goes on one last expedition into the deep part of the Amazon called the Boulina and disappears. Six months later, one of Cole’s beacons activated and his previous film director convinces Dr. Cole’s estranged wife and son into making an expedition to find him, while making it into a documentary, of course.

So, most everyone was right, the first hour of the show did drag. Back stories of the main members of the cast and the back story about why they came out to the Amazon in the the first place. Once you get past that into the second hour, the creepy dolls were enough to catch your attention. They explained the camera angels well, I thought. Either someone was holding one, there were cameras stationed on the ship or in the case of land shots, someone had placed a camera in the area the crew were camped for that time. The second episode did use the “fast time” thing like he used in the Paranormal Activity movies, but it wasn’t over used.

Each episode introduced you to a character of the show, introduced characters from Dr. Emmit Cole’s previous expedition and let the viewer in on a bit of the back story about a particular character.
Trying to be objective, I will say that it wasn’t all scary. There were a lot of slow parts in the show, and plenty of dialogue. Most of the scenes in the episodes weren’t scary as in scream in your seat scary, more subtlety creepy as crap in some places and gave the viewer sense of something being a little off in the episode.

In episode 6, the viewer finally finds out what really happened to Dr. Emmit Cole. And it was creepy as hell. (IMO) And as with all three PA movies, the weird stuff builds up and by the last three episodes, and I have to say, if I were to pick one episode, I’d have to go with Episode 7 “The Experiment” (not-zombies and chrysalis that made you actually say WTF?)

The season finale was good, even thought I was a step ahead at all times during it. It was interesting to see how it was going to play out. And there were some parts that I didn’t expect. The “possession scene” was really well done, I thought. At least the movements of the person, if not the actual “exorcism”, which I thought was way too short and a little too easy. And I was right. The crew of the Magus do not get the happy ending.

The ending of the finale leaves an opening ofo a potential season 2 if the network wishes, but personally, I like it the way it is. I like the ending, leaving the viewer to wonder what happens to the crew. And I don’t know if I would watch a season 2, because I’m not sure there is anywhere else they could go with this particular group of people. although I could be wrong.

So there you go. Listening to you guys for as many years as I have, I’m not sure anyone one the show would like it. Although if you can keep watching Spartacus, you can choke down 8 episodes of this show.

In short, the story line dragged in parts, the scenery was amazing at times while maintaining creepy. and I felt enough for the characters to get somewhat invested in certain ones.

Do not go into this series expecting great plot points, expansive storyline or incredible casting. This isn’t Fringe. But, if you turn off your brain, try not to think about it too much and need a good “sit back and enjoy the ironic brilliance of it all” this is the show to do it with. Short and sweet.

I liked it. And I’ll probably buy it when it comes out on DVD on May 22nd. But then again, my favorite “dirty little secret” movies are also Barb Wire and Buckaroo Banzai.

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