Take Me to ‘The River’

Amazon river

The Amazon River, where strange things happen. ... Image via Wikipedia

Fans of Lost are well-acquainted with one exotic locale—The Island—and now there’s another remote tropical TV destination for lovers of mystery, intrigue, and Indiana Jones-style adventure with a healthy amount of weird thrown in: The River.

The new ABC series (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), from Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg and the producer of Paranormal Activity, has gotten off to a rollicking start. Brief backstory: Explorer Emmet Cole, star of a hit adventure-travel show, went missing along the Amazon River, but six months later his emergency beacon goes off. His wife, Tess, rounds up a rescue party, including the producer of Emmet’s show, Clark, and Clark’s documentary crew, and Emmet’s disgruntled son, Lincoln, and almost immediately upon arrival, weird stuff starts happening—Emmet’s beacon is found … underwater (but who set it off? and how?), and they have to travel into a region called the Boiuna, which the daughter of the ship’s mechanic says is full of bad juju. They do find the ship, but it’s deserted—except for a loud thudding noise deep in the ship’s bowels. They investigate, and discover a door that’s welded shut, with the noise emanating from behind it. After finally cracking it open, they find … well, let’s just say it’s black, and sinister, and likes blood.

Sorry; my brief backstory wasn’t as brief as I intended, but that’s the kind of show this is: a basic premise that turns into so much more, something dark and deep and full of mystery, which is great for story-driven people such as myself, but also something chock-full of rich characters, which is great for fans of the human element. And I haven’t even mentioned the mud-covered natives or the tree strung with dozens of freaky, Chucky-like dolls.

In short, and without giving away too much, this one-hour adventure/paranormal/horror/mystery is a great piece of storytelling, its somewhat-annoying bleeped-out cussing notwithstanding. I strongly recommend it for anyone who loves Indiana Jones, Lost, or anything by J.J. Abrams (who, by the way, is not involved with this show, though it would fit his MO quite well).

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