San Diego Comic-Con — The River Panel (Updated 7 Feb, 2012)

SDCC -- The River panel

Overall, I did like The River and will be watching it on ABC once they figure out when it’s going to be airing. It did have its moments of complete and utter cheesiness, but most shows do not ever point back at their pilot as an example of one of their finest episodes. There were other problems, as well, mainly due to the fact that the set-up required an enormous amount of exposition, which meant that the characters so far feel a little two dimensional (this was particularly true of Jahel, whose apparent purpose is to utter dire warnings in Portuguese and look creepily into the camera). I’m certain it will get better in future episodes once the writing team behind the show really starts to gel, and the actors get comfortable together. Speaking of the acting, I have a particular fondness for Joe Anderson (which goes back to Across the Universe, one of my very favorite movies), although his American accent still could use a little work . . . ironic, since Anderson’s normal speaking voice isn’t actually all that strongly accented (he’s English).

Check out the trailer below, which is all scenes from the first episode:



The screening of the 44-minute pilot left us with only 15 minutes or so for the panel, but that was just enough time to wring a few interesting tidbits from the actors and the producers. The panel was made up of actors Leslie Hope, Joe Anderson, and Eloise Mumford, along with producers Oren Peli, Michael Green, and Zach Estrin.

Green explained that ABC is fully behind the idea of the show, and especially the desire to make it scary as all get out. Obviously your mileage will vary in terms of whether or not The River will be enough to freak you out, and my personal experience with the pilot didn’t give me a very good idea of if the show will cause me to sleep with my lights on or not (seeing it in a large room with your swag scattered all around your feet and the guy behind you kneeing you in the spine through the open back of the chair and that guy who really needs some deodorant smooshed next to you… well). It was at the very least unsettling, and I suspect that if I was in a dark room alone with a blanket I wouldn’t have been quite so blasé about it.

So, yes, ABC has given The River the go ahead to make what Green described as an “aggressively scary show”, and asked them not to water things down, to make the very best show they can. That left Peli with the ability to really cultivate his style, trying to terrify the audience without using any gore (after all, this is still network television). Think less Saw, and more Poltergeist.

Green and Estrin put it best:

Last, but definitely not least considering the show has been compared to LOST, one of the questions asked of the panel dealt with whether or not they have a complete story arc in mind, or if they’ll be sort of making it up as they go along . . . *coughBattlestarGalacticacough*. They have a plan, most definitely, we were assured.

Well, then. I guess we can’t ask for more than that!

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