January 5, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Last night ABC’s REVENGE became the first of the network serialized dramas to return from its long midseson hiatus.  Let’s see how the show managed its 2012 arrival.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:  Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), who’s really Amanda Clarks, continued her plot to bring down the super-rich Grayson family, headed by matriarch Victoria (Madeleine Stowe), and everyone else who played a part in framing Emily/Amanda’s beloved father for treasonous involvement with terrorists.  In doing so, she has to cope with her growing feelings for Victoria’s son Daniel (Joshua Bowman), the arrival in town of stripper/murderess/real-Emily/fake-Amanda (Margarita Levieva)–just go with it–who’s hooked up with fake-Emily/real-Amanda’s other crush Jack (Nick Wechsler), and the local sociopath Tyler (Ashton Holmes). 

WHERE WE ARE:  Revenge, like many other soaps before it, felt the need to come back from a hiatus with a bang.  This sadly led to a hasty and unsatisfying conclusion to the Tyler storyline, as he was instantly transformed from a seemingly charming sociopath in the Strangers On a Train mode to a routine off-his-meds psychopath waving a gun around.
It was one of those episodes that began with a Big Dramatic Moment (Tyler pointing the gun at Emily and the rest of the cast assembled for Daniel’s birthday), followed by a “2 Days Earlier” title-card that meant the episode took 53 minutes to get us back to where we started.  This was particularly unfortunate because just a half-hour earlier on ABC, Happy Endings had punctured this very cliche with a “45 Seconds Earlier” sequence.  Happy Endings, incidentally, also pulled off what Friends With Benefits bungled last summer, having a metaparody rom-com-within-the-show (tagline:  “There’s Like, There’s Love… and Then There’s, Like, Love”) and eating it too.
All the patient work that Revenge had done for weeks, setting Tyler up as a wild card who could put a wrench in Emily’s plans on his way to Crazytown, was wasted, as the show had to summon up a bespectacled doctor brother for Tyler to talk him into putting the gun down (Tyler never realized that Emily had unloaded the gun anyway, because she is sooo much smarter than anyone else).  In addition, spending the bulk of the episode dealing with wacko Tyler meant that none of the other storylines on the show were able to advance much.
Revenge, which has had middling ratings thus far (a 2.5 rating last night was enough to beat reruns on CBS and NBC), is nearing the end of its initial Emily-centric story arc, as the show gets back to its An Entire Summer Earlier flashforward that started the first episode, and then apparently changes direction.  The show’s real challenge will be to make that work, but its 2012 return was more of a stall than a step forward.

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."