More than anything, short-lived ABC series The River was an attempt to capture the momentum of Oren Peli after the success of the Paranormal Activity film series and the environment of Lost. While there’s something intriguing about both the premise and execution of The River, the series failed to capture the audience it was hoping for and was cut short after one abbreviated eight-episode season.
The River was focused on the disappearance and subsequent investigation of Dr. Emmet Cole (played by Bruce Greenwood). Cole was a sort of television survivalist and explorer a la today’s cable hosts of such extreme docudramas. After disappearing in the Amazon, his emergency beacon goes off several months later and several people unite together to lead the search for the beacon and the truth behind what happened. Included in the mix are his wife Tess, his son Lincoln and a TV crew to capture the footage along with a few others.
The set-up is perfect for Peli’s camera tricks and suspense-driven narratives where viewers are allowed to fill in the blanks. The premise moves quickly into the supernatural, and that’s where fans will divide — either content to go along for a far-fetched albeit entertaining ride or not. If so, the next eight episodes definitely capture the attention and imagination, but it’s also easy to see why the masses didn’t sign up for this. It’s a limited draw, but for those interested, the River is a great way to lose an evening or two.
The Season 1 DVD includes several deleted scenes and audio commentaries on both the pilot and final episode.