First Impressions – The River: Magus/Marbeley


But wait, there is actually going to be another Paranormal Activity movie at the end of this year.  Uuugh, whhhhhy, whhhy?  What more can you tell?  Anyways, The River is a new ABC show here in the States brought to us by Oren Peli and Michael R. Perry, the guys behind the Paranormal Activity movies.  It’s also another Steven Spielberg executive produced project.

They started it off with a 2-hour premiere with episodes called “Magus” and “Marbeley”.  6 months ago, Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), host of television show, The Undiscovered Country, disappears while on expedition in the Amazon on the vessel, Magus.

After an unsuccessful search, he is declared legally dead.  But now Cole’s emergency beacon has gone off and they may have a new lead.  Cole’s wife, Tess (Leslie Hope) convinces her son, Lincoln (Joe Anderson), to come with her on the search.  He refuses at first but she tells him the networks will fully fund the search as long as they can document both the mother and son.

Joining them are Undiscovered Country producer, Clark Quietly (Paul Blackthorne);

ship mechanic Emilio Valenzuela (Daniel Zacapa) and his daughter Jahel (Paulina Gaitan);

Lena Landry (Eloise Mumford), daughter of missing cameraman Russ Landry who disappeared with Cole;

A.J. Poulain (Shaun Parkes), the tenacious lead cameraman; and Captain Kurt Bryndilson (Thomas Kretschmann) who will provide them security.

What they don’t know is that they are headed into a territory where magic and superstition play a stronger role in the culture than logic and reasoning.  The team unleashes a force that terrorizes the crew and even kills one of the documentary’s cameramen.

The 1st hour was a bit underwhelming as it was trying to set up the plot and who the characters were.  Again, it felt a bit like Lost and it felt a bit like Paranormal Activity and I wasn’t sure how the show would break free from an established TV show and Movie franchise.  At the end of the 1st hour, I didn’t care too much about our main cast to really care what happened to them.  It was a bit too much exposition and less dramatic tension.  However, I can live with that for the 1st episode as there are a lot of characters to work with.

The 2nd hour did step it up in the horror department with the dolls being used as ornaments in the jungle at night.  Dolls.  There doesn’t need to be a reason but dolls in horror movies are always going to be creepy to me.

Also, we got to see a bit more about Lincoln’s history growing up as a part of this TV family.  And that’s important because we are introduced into this world on the show through Lincoln.  Lincoln’s estrangement from his father partly deals with the pressure to be part of the TV family that viewers perceive as “perfect” and the fact that his father may have cared more about his work rather than his son.

As of right now, I’m not sure how long I will stick with this show as it looks like every week we are going to deal with a new type of threat that is being doled out by this dark force.  Right now I’m thinking it might be better if this were a movie rather than a TV series as it doesn’t seem like there is enough of a plot there to keep it going.  Nor is there enough depth of character or a hint of that that’s going to be revealed along the course of the series.  Right now the show feels more like a gimmick to scare rather than having fully-fleshed story elements.  So why should I care that these people want to find Cole?



3 thoughts on “First Impressions – The River: Magus/Marbeley

  1. I’m giving this one a few more episodes but I’m definitely not sold yet. I appreciate that the pacing doesn’t drag, but they could stand to work in enough on the characters so that you actually give a damn about them getting eaten by a swamp monster.


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