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    JessHorsley's Avatar
    JessHorsley is offline Super Moderator
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    Oct 2001
    St. Louis, MO

    DVD REVIEW: The River - The Complete First Season

    Suspenseful, magical "found footage" TV series hits home video...

    Be sure to enter our The River DVD Giveaway. Two lucky winners will each take home this impressive 2-disc set on DVD, valued at $29.99.

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    ABC's The River was hit or miss for most fans. When it debuted in February, it seemed original and unlike any TV series before. A "found footage" style show which followed a film making crew and expedition team in search of Dr. Emmet Cole, a TV personality who himself became lost in the Amazon after he and his own crew went looking for "magic."

    Now if you're a fan of the "found footage" genre, you probably watched The River and found it engaging, interesting, and entertaining. With a new plot twist each week and wicked, strange things about, the show and its mystical, confusing, and all together foreign setting were frightening fun. Of course, if you aren't a fan of this style of film or TV show, you probably avoided the show like the plague...and it seems there were more people who didn't like the show than did as ABC unfortunately cancelled the series after the completion of only 8 episodes. Thankfully, ABC Studios has brought The River: The Complete First Season to DVD home video for those die-hard fans who want to enjoy the short but sweet series again and again.

    Shot in the previously mentioned "found footage" style using hand-held cameras (combined with some steadicam work to ensure viewers get a clear view of what's happening), The River expands the TV viewer's regular style of viewing in exchange for a more frustrating, complicated, and sometimes dynamic way which proves to work quite well when combined with the story. The story explores the adventures, histories, and individual stories of an expeditionary TV crew in search of their former leader, Dr. Emmet Cole, who's gone missing in the Amazon jungle after he set out to find "magic."

    Combining a confused crew who encounter the unexplained throughout their adventure and the unique style of cinematography used in the "found footage" genre, the viewer at home better understands the duress, angst, and frustration the crew on the show is feeling as they seek and find footage, equipment, gear, and people left throughout the Amazon in search for the show's ultimate goal.

    The acting in the show is on par with other TV series and the story's development of each, while cut short due to the show being cancelled, was very impressive, each character having a full background which, had the show been continued, would have no doubt woven a much more interesting tale. The cast includes the talented Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Emmet Cole; Joe Anderson as Lincoln Cole, Dr. Cole's son and the often impromptu leader of the search party; Leslie Hope as Tess Cole, Dr. Cole's wife and Lincoln's mother, a woman struggling to understand herself and her husband's obsession; Eloise Mumford as Lena Landry, daughter of Russ Landry (a missing cameraman) and a potential love interest for Lincoln; and Paul Blackthorne as Clark Quietly, Dr. Cole's producer and the sometimes antagonist, other times savior of the expedition. These five make up the main characters, while numberous other supporting characters, including Shaun Parkes as A.J. Poulain, lead cameraman and skeptic; Thomas Kretschmann as Capt. Kurt Brynildson, the team's security; Daniel Zacapa as Emilio Valenzuela, the ship's mechanic and father to the teenage psychic Jahel, played Paulina Gaitán.

    Throughout the crew's adventures, everything from possession, monsters, native tribes, and various other supernatural ideas to the flashbacks exploring the crew's home life and past, we see an interesting development and various connections which, had the show been continued, would not doubt have weaved an interesting mythology. Everything, it seems, found its way back to Dr. Cole's search for magic and the unexplained and this theme was noticable instantly, even in the name of the crew's ship, The Magus and Dr. Cole's catch phrase "there's magic out there."

    The 2-disc set features a solid standard definition video for the show's full 344 minute run. Likewise, the audio is impressive with dialogue clear and crisp most times and only distorted when intentional. Maybe most impressive is the show's often haunting soundtrack featuring strange, unidentified sounds from throughout the jungle. As for special features, there are a few audio commentaries with the film's cast and crew, detailing information about the individual episodes.

    As the show was cancelled, that doesn't mean there's no hope for more The River. Netflix has been in talks with ABC Studios to continue production of the show and feature it as Video-On-Demand directly accessible to fans digitally. Thus, there's hope for the show and its fans.

    While the show's 8 episodes no doubt lack the full exploration of the world created by the show's writers and producers, the short series does provide a satisfying ending which will have some fans applauding and others waiting for more. Personally, I found The River engaging, fun, and quite often scary. While it might miss the mark on some occasions, The River often hits center mass when exploring the unexplained. For better or worse, The River was different and there's not enough different nowadays on TV. With too many police procedurals and sitcom comedies, The River stood alone - if only for a short time - as unique and different.

    The River: The Complete First Season is available on 2-disc DVD set now wherever fine home video is sold.

    - Jess Horsley
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    "Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"

    Jess C. Horsley

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