When I first watched the pilot of ABC’s The River, it was at San Diego Comic Con last July, 2011. I was with a room full of people but this was shown on a big screen, with surround sound. I was petrified. I knew then that The River was going on my “must watch” list for last fall.
The River Season 1 DVDs went on sale today but I received my advance review copy a couple of weeks ago. The season finale aired on March 20, so of course I couldn’t wait to relive the exciting and frightening journey down the Amazon again.
The series comes from the the director of Paranormal Activity and is executive produced by the great storyteller himself, Steven Spielberg. That alone sold me on the show. The River tells the tale of famed wildlife explorer and TV personality Dr. Emmet Cole who went looking for magic deep in the uncharted Amazon and never returned.
Now, six months after he vanished, a brave crew of family, old friends and new acquaintances embark on a mysterious and deadly journey to find him in the deepest and darkest depths of South America.
From the very first episode you’re drawn into the lives of each member of the Magus as it makes its way down the river to find Cole. His wife, Tess (Leslie Hope), never gave up the idea that Cole was alive, even when the rest of the world, including his son, Lincoln (Joe Anderson), believed him dead. When the homing beacon from Cole’s boat, the Magus, is picked up, Tess is moved to action and seeks out Lincoln to join her.
Also joining Tess and Lincoln is Clark Quietly (Paul Blackthorne), who produced Cole’s reality adventure series until he was let go just before Cole’s last journey. Clark was on his own journey to discover why Emmett Cole did not take him along on this last adventure. He funded this rescue mission with the understanding that it would be filmed just like all the previous shows which followed this family for years. “The way I see it—the millions of people around the world who loved this man and loved this family—have been left hanging. It’s like having a favorite show cancelled mid-season. They just need a finale. So either I’m gonna give them a happy ending…or I’m gonna give them their chance to truly say goodbye. What I’m doing here—is giving people an answer. It’s not my fault if that answer just happens to deliver a record number in the demo.”
Knowing that this trip could be very dangerous, Tess hires Capt. Kurt Bryndilson (Thomas Kretschmann) as security guard. We quickly find that he is under orders to get rid of Emmett Cole and anyone else involved, if they come too close to discovering something called “the source”.
Lena Landry (Eloise Mumford) grew up with Lincoln on the Magus because her father was Emmett’s camera man for “The Undiscovered Country” while it aired. She joins the rescue crew to find her father who disappeared along with Emmett. When it’s revealed that she had been in touch with Emmett all along, trust is thrown into question between her and her childhood extended family.
Rounding out the group is Emilio Valenzuela (Daniel Zacapa), the Magus’s mechanic, and his daughter Jahel, who helps him. She also sees things that others don’t, and has a deep sensitivity to the spiritual side of the Amazon.
The River’s main focus is finding Emmett Cole, but there are many personal journeys that each character is traveling. It was interesting to watch Tess and Lincoln work out some unfinished family issues, and then grow and work together to find Emmett. Lincoln discovers more about himself on this trip than he ever knew before. The entire crew have to learn to trust each other and it wasn’t an easy process.
The fright level escalated from week to week, starting with an angry ghost in the pilot. From there we get creepy dolls, deadly legends, zombies and even a demon possession. The River aired on Tuesday nights and offered the thrill for the week that my family and I looked forward to.
The DVD set not only offers the complete first season of The River in a two-disc package, but there’s also commentary by the cast, deleted scenes and a behind the scenes look at the making of the series on location in beautiful Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Right now you can purchase The River: The Complete First Season at a $10 discount by visiting TheRiverOnDVD.com and printing out your coupon. There’s one for U.S. residents and one for Canadian residents.
“The River is a place where nature is cruel, magic is real and nothing is what it seems. The shocking truth is waiting to be discovered…if you dare.”