May 30, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Reiew: “Reverie”


REVERIE:  Wednesday 10PM on NBC

In recent seasons, original summer dramas on the broadcast networks have tended to cluster in two varieties:  straightforward procedurals like Rookie Blue and The Night Shift, and fantasy-thrillers like Under the Dome and Extant.  NBC’s new REVERIE, created by Extant‘s Mickey Fisher, tries to mix the genres, with indifferent results.

The medium-concept premise is basically Inception as a procedural.  In the very near future, a company has created an incredibly realistic, biologically implanted form of Virtual Reality known as Reverie, which allows each participant to create his or her own fantasy world that includes versions of people from real life created from the online and social media histories of those people.  The problem is that an increasing number of users are taking up residence in their VR universes, their bodies comatose and fading toward death as they obsessively work out or try to escape the conflicts of their pasts within their matrix.  Enter Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi), a former hostage negotiator recruited by her old boss (Dennis Haysbert) to enter the Reveries of these users with the help of the company’s scientists (Jessica Lu and Heroes‘s Sendhil Ramamurthy), resolve their life issues, and convince them to return to real life.  Naturally, Mara has a tragedy of her own in her past:  her inability to stop her brother-in-law from shooting her sister and niece  Also naturally, the company behind Reverie is secretly being backed by the US Defense Department, for sure-to-be nefarious purposes.

Fisher’s pilot script bears a ton of expository dialogue to explain all this, and perhaps once that’s out of the way, future episodes will have more space for plot and character.  The opening hour, however, jumps from introduction to resolution so abruptly and superficially that it feels like the storyline was filmed from the index cards on the writers’s room wall.  (Mara, back in the real world, discovers the hidden key to the pilot protagonist’s crisis after about fifteen seconds of investigation.)  Pilot director Jaume Collet-Serra, whose big-screen work includes this year’s The Commuter, keeps things in motion, and some of the sequences in Reverie are pleasingly hyper-real (others are banal, like the program’s recreation of a cherished memory from Mara’s past).  It also helps that the cast includes practiced TV hands like Shahi, Haysbert and Ramamurthy.  But none of them are able to provide much depth or complexity in the early going.

The networks are mostly concerned with keeping the lights on during the summer at a low cost-point, with the hope that occasionally a hit will emerge a la the first season of Under the DomeReverie seems capable of the former, but unlikely to accomplish the latter.  Viewers may well find themselves drifting off toward their own dream worlds instead of paying attention.


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."