The initial, tension-filled clip for The River gave me hope for the ABC midseason drama, perhaps more than any other pilot rolled out during this week’s upfront presentations (Alcatraz is a close second). And now that I’ve watched the trailer (below), I get the feeling that hope won’t be misplaced.
It looks like The River won’t just deliver drama or slightly offbeat adventure in its desperate search for a missing wildlife expert/television personality, but honest-to-goodness, edge-of-your-seat horror. That’s a rare thing on network television. Of course, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, given some of the names behind the series — in particular, Steven Spielberg and Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity fame.
If the two minute-plus trailer is a good indication, The River could be a gloriously twisted cross between The Crocodile Hunter, Stanley and Livingstone, Heart of Darkness and, I don’t know, Survivor. Oh, please let that turn out to be an accurate assessment …
“The River” follows the story of wildlife expert and TV personality Emmet Cole. Emmet set course around the world with his wife, Tess, and son, Lincoln, while filming what would become one of the most popular shows in television. After he goes missing deep in the Amazon, his family, friends and crew set out on a mysterious and deadly journey to find him. Famed explorer Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) went looking for magic deep in the uncharted Amazon and never returned. The shocking truth about his disappearance is out there, somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. To the millions of kids who grew up watching his nature show, Dr. Cole was a hero. To his own son, Lincoln (Joe Anderson), he was more of an enigma. Now, six months after he vanished, Lincoln is finally ready to bury the past when Dr. Cole’s emergency beacon suddenly goes off. At the urging of his mother, Tess (Leslie Hope), Lincoln reluctantly joins her on a search for his father. To fund the rescue, they agree to let Dr. Cole’s cagey ex-producer, Clark (Paul Blackthorne), film the mission documentary-style. The mixed crew of old friends and new acquaintances includes the sexy and resourceful Lena (Eloise Mumford), loyal mechanic Emilio (Daniel Zacapa) and lethal bodyguard Captain Kurt Brynildson (Thomas Kretschmann). “The River” stars Bruce Greenwood (“Star Trek”) as Emmet Cole, Joe Anderson (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2”) as Lincoln Cole, Paul Blackthorne (“Lipstick Jungle”) as Clark, Paulina Gaitan as Jahel, Leslie Hope (“24”) as Tess Cole, Eloise Mumford (“Lone Star”) as Lena, Shaun Parkes (“The Mummy Returns”) as Adjay, Thomas Kretschmann (“King Kong”) as Captain Kurt Brynildson and Daniel Zacapa (“Resurrection Blvd.”) as Emilio. “The River,” from Amblin’s Steven Spielberg, Daryl Frank and Justin Falvey, showrunner/executive producer Michael Green (“Heroes,” “Kings”), is also executive-produced by Oren Peli (creator of “Paranormal Activity”), Zack Estrin, Jason Blum and Steven Schneider. Teleplay by Michael R. Perry and Michael Green, story by Oren Peli & Michael R. Perry and Michael Green. The pilot is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and produced by ABC Studios.