Tuned In

The Morning After: Without a Paddle

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ABC was good enough to send me all eight episodes of The River before I reviewed it. So while I was able to give a sense of how insane the show became–enjoyably, to me, but your nautical mileage may have varied–spoiler sensitivity meant I was not able to detail in how many ways it was insane. The River was not just an attempt to do a horror story on television. It was, in many ways, an attempt to do every horror story on television.

I mean, just look at every genre the show manages to incorporate in the last few weeks. There was weird science. (Bruce Greenwood in a freaking chrysalis!) There were zombies, or very zombie-like beings, anyway. There were angels–as in, actual beings with wings on their backs. There was an undead cameraman. And last night, in the season (I am guessing series) finale? An exorcism. An honest-to-whatever-gods-are-on-the-river, ’70s-horror-movie exorcism!

I will grant the many criticisms I have heard of The River. Lincoln was possibly the most annoying protagonist on television (such that I was sorely disappointed, though not surprised, when the show first resurrected him and then evicted the demon inhabiting his body). The plot was frantic and the twists melodramatic. And Jahel has apparently never had a conversation that did not involve warning someone of the mystic dangers of the Boiuna. (I also still cannot figure how Emmet managed to get multiple camera angles on himself falling out of a tree.)

For all that, the show earned a lot of points with me for its verve, it’s looking like nothing else on TV right now, its genuinely horrifying twists and its willingness to steer straight into the most ludicrous crapstorms of genre horror pile-ups. It may not have been great TV, but it was adventurous, diverting TV, and call me a sucker, I enjoyed the ride.

And yet I’m kind of glad its over. (Again, I’m merely assuming this, given the ratings.) The River had already exhausted so many possibilities, and while it clearly ended the season on a note meant to allow the Magus to stay lost as many seasons as the ratings allowed, it didn’t convince me the show had anywhere to go after this. The ratings suggest not many of you stuck with it–or else I’d have blogged about it more here–but those of you who stuck to the bitter end: what did you think of the trip?