Thursday, October 6, 2011

'Revenge' Is Sweet!...

Revenge may have more exposition than Ringer, but it zigs every time you think it will zag, and it consistently offers mature character development, so to my surprise, it has quickly replaced Ringer on the list of my favorite new fall 2011 dramas.

I'll admit it, I was looking forward to seeing such strong women on my TV this fall-- from Sarah Michelle Gellar to Emily Van Camp and Madeleine Stowe. What I loved so much about both shows was that strong, take charge females were at the center-- out to take control of their lives any way possible, even if misguided, even if flawed, and even if mistakes were bound to be made. But I fear the writers of Ringer bit off more than they can chew with so many complex and flawed characters. We have seen through episode four, and there is still a lot of repetition, a lot of dancing around issues without really ever progressing them. But for the last minute of each episode, not a whole lot happens, making each episode feel like a slow play with a hasty cliffhanger tacked on just to get viewers to tune back in next week. That bastardizes the methodic tone and is an almost insultingly cheap plot. We get insight into character, sure, but it's always the same insight, just shown in a different way. I feel as if the show has hit a wall already, and the actors are just spinning their wheels, waiting to be challenged-- to be given something to do.

With Revenge, though, the opposite is taking place. What I assumed would be a pretty straightforward procedural primetime soap has evolved nicely, and most importantly, smoothly, with its character entanglements and true motives. Even though I was somewhat on the fence with the Revenge pilot as a whole, I had pointed to the subtle face-off between formidable opponents of Emily an Victoria as to what could save it from becoming just another melodrama. I was looking forward to watching their passive aggressive take down of each other as the weeks went on because both are such strong characters above and beyond the women behind them being such strong actors. From the get-go they didn't conform to stereotypes and their situation made them larger than life, but somehow they remained grounded at the same time. Maybe I was shortsighted or maybe I just underestimated the team behind the show, but I never expected them to perhaps be working toward the same goal, just in their own unique ways, let alone deliver the goods so quickly.

After last night's "Betrayal" episode of Revenge, though, the possibilities of learning a true relationship between Emily and Victoria seemed imminent. Maybe it is just my wishful thinking but the idea of seeing these two women still run their parallel courses but with a common goal makes the series that much more complex. It is not enough for the show that the audience knows Victoria has a softer side-- or even that Emily knows it. We got to see the extent to which she actually did love David, Emily's own beloved father. She wasn't just sleeping with him to have an affair as so many others in this show seem to do; we know that because while he was on trial she tried to prove his innocence. We know she is still thinking about him all these years later because she wears the necklace he gave her and ultimately helped to take down one of the men responsible for setting him up. And since Emily and Victoria share the common ground of a love for him-- soon to be followed by the common ground of a love for Daniel-- what will now be most interesting is to watch them pick the others off in tandem. After all, the truest definition of girl power comes from community.

Step it up, Ringer!

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