March 11, 2012

THE SKED @ PALEYFEST 2012: “Revenge”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Despite ABC’s attempts to claim otherwise, REVENGE is more “hittish” than true hit.  Although it premiered with strong ratings in the low 3s, it’s since come down to numbers in the mid-2s, usually beaten by CSI in their shared Wednesday 10PM timeslot.  But these days, a 2.4-2.5 rating at 10PM is nothing to take lightly, especially compared to other ABC drama entries like The River, Pan Am and (based on its premiere) GCB, none of which could crawl much above a 2.  So while series creator/showrunner Mike Kelley said all the right things at today’s PaleyFest session devoted to the show about how he hopes the series comes back for a 2d season, and that there are no guarantees in this business, Revenge has an excellent chance–barring an April/May collapse–to be back.  

The Revenge gathering was notably less boisterous than last night’s Vampire Diaries craziness (amusingly, a new caution had been added to the pre-panel introductions today asking fans not to rush the stage when the session was over), as befits its more affluent, and dare I say somewhat older, audience.  Nevertheless, there was enormous enthusiasm for the show’s antagonists, vengeful Emily Thorne (Emily Vancamp) and her nemesis Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), as well as the show’s resident hunks Daniel Grayson (Josh Bowman) and Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler) and Emily’s oddball partner in vengeance Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann).  Apart from them and Kelley, participants in the panel included producer Marty Bowen, and performers Henry Czerny (Conrad Grayson), Ashley Madekwe (Ashley Davenport) and the series ingenues, Christa B. Allen (Charlotte Grayson) and Connor Paolo (Declan Porter).  
Only the first 15 minutes or so of the next unaired episode (which won’t be seen till April) were screened, and there weren’t a lot of full-scale spoilers, although Kelley allowed a cast member to confirm that a terrible thing happening to one character in that 15 minutes was the doing of another character (which had been set up in some dialogue in the portion that was screened). What Kelley did provide was a surprisingly detailed blueprint of how the rest of the season is going to play out structurally. So, STRUCTURAL SPOILER ALERT
The episode that was partly screened, Episode 17, will continue where the previous episode left off, with Daniel in jail for Tyler’s murder (if you don’t know who Tyler is, catch up) and the preparations for his trial.  Then the show will jump forward several months from September to December, and Episodes 18-19 will cover Daniel’s trial, up to and including the verdict.  (The prosecution case will take up “2 minutes” of Episode 18, and from there on the focus will be on Daniel’s defense.)  Episode 20 will be something different for the series:  an hour set entirely in the past, dealing with the period in 2002 when Emily was still trying to decide if her father’s version of his arrest and conviction was true and when she was meeting her future targets for the first time.  Episode 20 will also include sequences flashing even farther back, to the beginning of the romance between Victoria and David Clarke (Emily’s father–pay attention).  Then Episodes 21-22 will lead up to a season-ending cliffhanger, and also set things up for what would be the main storyline of Season 2.  Kelley provided little information about what this would be about, except to note that Daniel Grayson will no longer be the passive character he’s mostly been so far, and that the enigmatic Takeda will figure into these episodes.  Kelley added that the plan for next season would be to follow the same structure as Season 1:  a central storyline occupying the first 13-15 episodes, aftermath episodes for the following 4-6 weeks, then an hour or 2 resolving some issues and setting things up for the future.
The panel was mostly breezy and light-hearted, although Stowe made it clear that while she’s having a good time playing Victoria, she takes her character very seriously.  (She and Kelley have collaborated on an as-yet unseen backstory for Victoria.)  Most questions were about the storylines, for which Kelley’s go-to answer was “If it’s not impossible, it could happen.”  (This included a query about whether Emily’s father might actually be alive.)  The only complaint any of the actors seemed to have was that their respective stories didn’t allow them to interact with some of the other characters as much as they’d like (Nolan with the Graysons, Ashley with Emily, etc).  The panel did clear up, though, that there’s no way Nolan will turn out to be Emily’s brother, however sibling-like their relationship may be.
Coming up at PaleyFest–deep breath, please–on Tuesday night:  the return of MAD MEN.
Previous PaleyFest Columns:

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."