If you’ve watched any TV in the past month, there is a pretty good chance that you’ve seen commercials for “The River.” With its debut on Tuesday, it will join FOX’s “Alcatraz” as the two shows currently on air trying really hard to become the new “Lost.”
“The River,” premiering on ABC, will air in the timeslot that “Lost” aired in during its final season (Tuesday at 8 p.m. CST), so the “The River” already has sort of a leg up.
There are a couple of big names at the top for this project—Steven Spielberg is a producer and Oren Peli of the “Paranormal Activity” trilogy is writing and directing. Peli’s influence is all too apparent. The trailer for “The River” looks like the action in “Paranormal Activity” moved straight from that house to the jungle. The clips that commercials show are full of the quick night shots, with unseen forces throwing people around like rag dolls.
The plot of “The River” seems innocuous until you get further into the story. An explorer, Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), seemingly modeled after the likes of Steve Irwin, has been lost in the Amazon for six months when his emergency beacon suddenly turns back on. His family, wife Tess (Leslie Hope) and son Lincoln (Joe Anderson), can only fund the rescue by agreeing to let a documentary crew film the mission. They then join a team of cameramen and producers to find him, or at least to find out what happened. Early into the mission, they find Cole’s empty boat, and that’s when things start to go wrong. What does it all mean? Well, hopefully we will find out over the course of the eight-episode season.
ABC is following “Lost” into the jungle here, obviously hoping to get similar viewer numbers. With Peli’s history at the box office and the similar style here, it is certainly possible for the show to have a strong debut. If done well, it could reach near the heights of that lonely island ratings-wise, but the quality of “The River” will probably pale in comparison.