Sweet revenge

telly review

Sweet revenge

Life in the American TV show business has come full circle. If you are an avid American television show buff like me, you probably feel the same. Show creators are turning back in time, revisiting themes long ago abandoned, in their quest to show relatable new-age realism; well, they try.

After squeezing out every drop of possible scenario and plotline from ‘real life’, they seem to have gone back to where it all began. What better challenge than to take up an old theme and put a modern spin on it for an audience spoilt for choice? Revenge, as it happens to be, is not just a classic theme, but also the name of ABC’s hit TV show that has completed its second season in the US and is currently running the repeat of its first in India.

Loosely based on French author Alexander Dumas’s novel The Count of Monte Cristo, Revenge is the story of a young woman out to exact revenge on those who wronged her now-dead beloved father. Amanda Clarke — under a new identity Emily Thorne — has returned to her childhood home in the Hamptons with a fierce determination to avenge her father’s downfall. Her main target is the Graysons — the ruling family of the high society of Hamptons — Queen bee Victoria Grayson and her husband Conrad Grayson who set her father up for a crime he did not commit.

There also happens to be a town full of people who have betrayed her father. Setting out on the path of destruction, she strikes each of them down, episode after episode, keeping the Graysons’s for the grand finale, I presume. The show keeps you guessing who her next target is and how she has planned their retribution.

From the very first episode, you are irresistibly drawn into the drama despite its familiar premise. A handsome cast, enough twists and subplots and a fine production make it an engaging watch. The writing is riddled with clichés and consistent contrived coincidences, not to mention some stereotyped characters — like the bored billionaire who wants to help Emily, the childhood sweetheart, and a dog she left behind — yet you enjoy with guilty pleasure.

Much of the credit goes to Emily VanCamp who plays the protagonist. VanCamp, who made her presence felt in a small role in another ABC hit series Brothers and Sisters, brings a subtle grace to her character Emily Thorne, a beguiling young woman who is seething with vengeance underneath her cool, polished exterior. She has much more going for her than her good looks; she is an intelligent actor.

If her character isn’t locking horns with her nemesis Victoria Grayson, or being the proverbial ice queen seducing Victoria’s son Daniel as part of her grand plan, she is trying hard not to fall for her childhood sweetheart who brings out her vulnerable side. All in all, you are hooked.

Character development and attention to detail win the show brownie points. Parallelly running subplots involving the secondary characters are quite interesting and have enough juice to stand on their own while new characters are thrown in between to mix things up a bit. Hotel room hook-ups, cheating spouses, poor-boy-in-love-with-rich-girl, there is enough drama to last a while!

The overall look and feel of the show compliments the underlying classic theme. Right from the white-and-red colour themed sets and clothes to even the names of the characters — which, by the way, are all names of famous English writers — everything screams classic.

Madeleine Stowe’s diva-esque performance as the rich and powerful Victoria Grayson, the ruthless woman who will go to any lengths to hide her secret, deserves a mention; she even earned a Golden Globe nomination for it. She lifts the drama up a notch and between her intense, high decibel performance and VanCamp’s quiet brooding and plotting, what ensues is a balanced drama worth a watch. Go get yourself a bite of this good old sweet, sinful revenge — a guilty pleasure to pass your time. Revenge is now showing on Star World, every Saturday and Sunday, at 9 pm.

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