TV review: ‘Revenge’ is melodrama at its juiciest

By Nick Rees

ABC’s new drama “Revenge” is soapy intrigue at its best. Right off the get-go, the audience is told, “this is not a story of forgiveness.” Bring on the lying, scamming and betrayal.

“Revenge” offers a unique picture of how the more affluent truly live. Flashy cars, enormous mansions, betrayal, adultery and a manipulative attitude all seem to be in fashion this season. The show begins with a quote from the lips of Confucius that might just explain everything to come: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Our focal point is young Emily Thorne (played beautifully by Emily VanCamp of “Brothers & Sisters” and “Everwood” fame), a new addition to South Hampton. Her innocence and beauty is purely surplus in relation to her brimming bank account. The true mystery behind this intricate character lies in the fact that her true name is … Amanda Clarke. She’s the daughter of disgraced Hampton-ite, David Clarke, who was framed for a host of crimes (i.e. murder, funding terrorism, etc.) by those he trusted most.

The audience must always be braced for some extra juicy plot twists with these types of shows. Hence, the reigning queen of the Hamptons, Victoria Grayson (icily portrayed by Madeleine Stowe) was of course David Clarke’s lover who betrayed him, and testified to have him put in jail for life. Toying with the queen is not advised.

Those who contributed to David Clarke’s demise are still quite close, as it turns out. They “summer” together in the Hamptons, and one by one get ready to watch them receive exactly what’s coming for them. One word: karma. We’ve watched the public humiliation of the philandering ex-assistant who was in fact screwing her best friend, Victoria’s husband (Conrad Grayson).

Next came the collapse of David Clarke’s most trusted friend through some unreliable stock tips. Finally, we have enjoyed the humiliation of the DA who got David put away for life via his pregnant mistress showing up right before he was to announce his candidacy for re-election as a Senator. Emily has independently contrived each plot to bring the fall of those who ruined her father’s life and left her an orphan. Hiding behind a beautiful façade is a devious woman who will stop at nothing to avenge her father.

Much of the intensity is derived from the cat-and-mouse game that has commenced between Victoria and Emily. They each always believe they’re one step ahead, but alas — no. It is neck and neck. This show could’ve meandered into the trashy realm, which would’ve surely led to its demise, or it could’ve become the newest soap opera via primetime a la “Grey’s Anatomy.” Yet, it has found its place amongst those guilty pleasures that are well-acted and scripted. Billed as “Count of Monte Cristo” for the television era, this show thrives on melodrama, but more the variety that intrigues and beguiles rather than the inappropriate over-the-top crap that has seemed to bring down primetime programming as of late.

In need of a suspenseful and dramatic treat? Look no further than ABC at 10/9c on Wednesday.  Let the vengeance begin.

Rating: A


Wednesday, 10 p.m.


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