THE RIVER: Did you see that?
What’s wrong with THE RIVER? Nothing. Nothing at all. Then why aren’t the ratings skyrocketing?? (though according to tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com, last week they saw their viewership grow the best since their premiere night numbers) Why aren’t there more covers of weekly mags featuring the Cole family and their jungley adventures?? Are viewers gun-shy? Is the studio backing it at all? What’s going on over there???
Let’s examine the show, shall we? Amrie’s talked about it before; we know the premise, family of televised explorers and crew loses famous father mysteriously in jungles and massive rivers of the Amazon. The show is shot as the viewing of a taped expedition, making the viewer both observer and participant. Reactions seem realistic, I’ve grown to love the sound of the bleeped out cursing. It’s so genuine! A giant disembodied noise is whooshing about and murdering people on board with me? I’m going to cuss. A lot, repeatedly and with great volume. So the reactions of the cast feel right. Plus, my biggest trepidation was that it would be too “swirly”; meaning that most documentary style shots are full of bumps and spinning and generally make me close my eyes and pray that it stops immediately otherwise I’m going to urp.
While THE RIVER has it’s “urp”-y moments, they are fleeting; you see, the cameramen have “set up” the stationary cameras already ahead of the (sometimes hiking) troupe so you get to see the movement of the group, then whatever actions or dialogue that happens when they stop, without all the swirly shots! Having multiple camera stands scattered around the trail and fastened on the boat itself. It’s a total genius move on the part of the director and definitely appreciated from my couch. Plus there are hidden cameras so the little private moments are captured too. It lets us in on what’s going on while still keeping the elements shocking to the rest of the characters and most times us! Having the limited view of the lens proves both terrifying and infuriating since the viewer can’t see everything in the shot, and sometimes the scariest thing is what you can’t see!
Every week, it’s something else that’s scary. It’s not necessarily resolvable either! You’re dealing with mystical rainforest stuff here, there’s no real wrapping it up guys! They may be past the immediate danger, but hey, that whooshing disembodied murdering noise? It’s still out there! And the danger changes! Ghosts, dead-undead hanging people, crazy scary dolls hanging in trees (seriously?? That was bananas and gave me the wiggins for days!) Disappearing/reappearing jungle people, it never ends! There’s so much to scare you with, and there’s intrigue because you don’t know everything about any of the characters. You get the backstory you get. There’s an occasional flashback-style interjection of a video taped something from days gone by, but you don’t get to hear what their thinking unless they tell the camera directly. Which, doesn’t happen Real World Confessional style, but interview style by a cameraman on occasion. Even then, they don’t divulge everything, so you’re left to your own devices. Caring about specific characters isn’t automatic, and I love that! Giving the viewers a chance to debate who to root for? Awesome!
There’s mystery, magic, and terrific acting and writing out there (if you’re watching, you’ll get that)! With only two episodes left, I’m really, REALLY hoping for a last ditch surge in ratings and an encore summer running of THE RIVER to grab more audience. THE RIVER airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC. I’m always on the edge of my seat watching it, are you??