Not Much Blood And Little Oil, This Show Ain't No Dynasty Or Dallas #BloodAndOil #3WeekRoundUp #PremiereWeek
All pictures courtesy of ABC
I knew the season had to deliver it at some point. Just as my earlier article about Rosewood gave an unexpected high of this early fall season, ABC's Blood And Oil (#BloodAndOil) has delivered the first big disappointment. Don't worry though, it still has some redeeming qualities to it.
As I say with all of these posts, click the #Premiere Week button up top and scroll down to ABC's section at the very bottom to read my initial anticipation for this show and see if I thought it'd be good or not. But for those who don't wish to do that, I'll give a quick recap of if I looked forward to this show. The answer to that question is yes, I highly looked forward to this show. In fact, it along with Quantico (review to follow soon) and Minority Report, was my most anticipated show of the season. I really, really wanted to see this show, and looked forward to the soap opera-esque drama of it all. I thought it might be another drama in the way of the two great 80s dramas Dynasty and Dallas. While I think it is a little more similar to Dallas than Dynasty, I would have preferred Dynasty. FOX's Empire is Dynasty. This? Well, this doesn't quite have the flamboyancy and character of a must-see, appointment viewing kind of show. Let's dive in shall we.
The show feeds off of two main plots each of which weave together almost from the start. With around a total of six big players, we start out following the story of a young up-and-coming couple with a familiar face. Chace Crawford plays the husband. He and his wife Cody decide to move from the Florida Panhandle up to North Dakota in order to take advantage of the state's recent oil boom. But they aren't going initially to be part of the oil business. No, they believe their fortune lies within the confines of a wash and dry business. With a truck filled with washers and dryers, they plan to open a laundromat. It's pretty genius when you think about it. A town full of roughnecks with the filthiest of clothes that would need constant washing. Can't fault them for that plan. It's a very good plan. Their stupidity kicks in when Chace decides to purchase three more washers to stuff into the back of their truck instead of buying insurance for the ones they already had. Within the opening minutes of the show, they get spooked by a big rig and fly off the road, totaling not only their pickup but the washers and dryers too--and that's before they even get to North Dakota. They were on the border, the border!
Out of money and low on luck, they hitch a ride to the town they were going to anyway and find that as most boom towns go, this one is filled with so many people that there's not a place for all of them to stay. Many stay out on the street in a tent camp on the edge of the center of town. Lo and Behold their exit from the bar where they learned this fact and their journey into tent city was what gave me my first surprise concerning this show. All of the advertisements showed only the main cast, even trimming it down to the oil baron, his wife, his son, and the young couple in many of the commercials. Hence, I thought the show would be lily white (check my thoughts back in premiere week post and you'll see I wrote those words exactly). Yet, here I find that not only is the sheriff black played by industry old head Delroy Lindo (the father in Romeo Must Die; that's all I can remember him from but he was definitely in other stuff). Then, they also meet a black couple in the tent camp they later help but I don't want to jump too far ahead.
Meanwhile, the oil baron played by another industry old head and the biggest draw to the show for me, Nash Bridges himself Don Johnson is looking to expand his ever-growing oil empire but has to deal with his petulant son Wick. Wick is a little all over the place character-wise. First he respects (not loves) his father and just wants a piece of what he believes is his rightful claim of the pie. He sticks out as a young punk who really doesn't give two shakes about the oil business but wants all that money that goes with it minus the work to get it. When his father punishes him for causing trouble with the local Native Americans after shooting a white spirit animal moose, he refuses to cooperate with his punishment of mud raking and gets fired by his father. The scoundrel he is, he concocts a plan to instead steal the oil from his father and sell it on his own with a buddy of his.
There's some business with his new mother-in-law, Don Johnson's current wife, thinking he's sneaky but so far they really haven't utilized her character as much as I would have liked or thought they would. Frankly, they should use her a lot because I think Amber Valletta (Transporter 2, Hitch, Dead Silence) is a pretty good actress who hasn't been given that one amazing role for her to do something with. Here, not only does she not play as big of a part as the commercial insinuated she would, she's nearly a shadow fading into the rustic-wealthy background of the North Dakota mansion where she and her husband reside. While I understand that it may be considered too weak of a character for modern TV, I would have liked--still would--if she played a role similar to Krystle on Dynasty. Krystle was light, fluffy, gentle, meek, and totally in love with her man. This woman not only seems completely opposite of that but doesn't exude the sinister power that should come from a person who supposedly only married this man as a "business merger." She's neither exceptionally cold and calculating nor working class princess-like. She's just... there, and only sometimes.
She had some tension with his daughter who is becoming a bigger character but who also has yet to make a real mark on the show as she just arrived back from California to potentially become part of the business. It has been implied that her mother was either a mistress that was also part of the help staff at some point (she looks like she may be Latina or Hispanic) that her father cast off (she said as much) or she came from a brief fling he had after a divorce or before a marriage. In any case, she doesn't speak often with her father as she hates how he treated her mother as a side project rather than a woman. Funny enough, the show kind of does the same thing to many of its female characters outside of Chace's wife.
And we're back to the young couple. After losing everything, both of them get to think about how they could get back on their feet. Scooping up gainful employment like it was nothing in an overcrowded town, Cody finds work at a drug store. There she overhears one of the oil men talking to his boss on the phone about some sure-thing piece of land with massive oil reserves underneath it. So long as they buy the land from the old man living in a shack at the center of it, they'll be rich by billions. She tells her husband and they strike a deal with the old man to purchase some of the land (enough for drilling) for a mere $100,000 and 25% stake in whatever deal they'll make going forward. They then flip the drilling rights for the next three years and sell those to Don Johnson's character for 1 million dollars (mentally insert Dr. Evil picture here). This only after taking a loan out from the barkeep who moonlights as a real estate agent, and wheeling and dealing their way to that measly 100,000.
The son escapes with the oil and sets up the sheriff to go on a hunt for the 18-wheeler which ends in the third episode as the accomplice gets caught. But this also leads to Chace carrying favor with Don because he saved his life. Knowing the boy is interested in making more money, he offers him another deal where he believes he can make ten times the amount of money if he flips it in a few years, but the buy-in is half a million dollars. Chace turns him down, opting instead to follow his newly pregnant wife's idea to purchase a house after less than a week of being in town. Don doesn't wait and flips the business a week later but only makes triple what he paid for it, leaving Chace to miss out on a million dollars profit. He definitely wants in on the next deal but doesn't have enough to buy in. He makes a deal to give over his percentage of that land he bought from the old man plus another 250,000 for the possible sure thing right now. The sure thing turns out to be a dud and he loses all of it. Shrewd and conniving, Johnson plays the deal superbly, ending up with everything he wanted in the first place.
Meanwhile, he lets his son back into his life after the little death scare but doesn't know it was him who gave him the death scare at the end of the barrel of a gun. What he also didn't know was that his son has taken to sleeping with the bar owner/real estate lady who is quite a good businesswoman herself. As it turns out, she might have picked up a few tricks from her old boyfriend who just so happens to be Don. His son doesn't know that he's living in a real-life rendition of the O'Jays classic "She Used To Be My Girl" but apparently she still loves her older beau and he's still down for a few rolls in the sheets as evidenced by the third episode.
There's another side story that has only now showed signs of developing with the black couple who want to open a restaurant but currently have a food truck with another chef from L.A. This other chef is a serious flirt and might try to start something with the wife but Cody has already warned him about such activity as she has invested in the business. There's also another tertiary plot with one of the men who works for Don having an affair with his daughter and doing some corporate spying maybe for blackmailing purposes but that hasn't given enough clues to tell where it's going. Other than that, the show is moving fairly quickly concerning its main plot but there just isn't that "umph!" I'd like to have.
What do I rate this show? I regrettably have to give it a C. Ever since the amazing Desperate Housewives went off the air and sucked Brothers and Sisters (a not as amazing show) along with it, ABC has had trouble filling the 9pm Sunday time slot. Last year's Resurrection had showed promise but petered out quickly, losing viewers' interest before Thanksgiving hit and that was in its sophomore season. Unfortunately, this might do the same. If this show is to survive, I think they need to liven up the drama amongst the women as on Empire--again, they have Dynasty as a great example--and maybe bring one of Don's ex-wives on the show as she was mentioned in passing to be working in the oil industry down in Texas. Maybe that is the plan or maybe they are trying to see what they have first, but I think this show could use some new blood to make things bubble and catch fire a lot quicker. The characters all seem muted on the backdrop and that even goes for Miami Vice Don who I think could make a really great JR or Blake Carrington if given the proper juiciness in a role. For now, they ring hollow and, unlike the quiet but tension-filled characters that populate AMC and other cable TV shows, every second of quiet from the characters is felt in an uncomfortable way. Just think of how improperly and clumsily worded that last sentence is and that is the way the characters come off to me.
Also, I know that this show has had behind-the-scenes problems to which I would offer up a suggestion of getting the season one Revenge showrunner to helm things and change the tone of the show. Every barb, slight, undercutting and etc. needs to be felt more and made weightier. Some characters are there but aren't used enough and it feels almost like they wanted only to tell one story but someone told them they had to have side stories so they tried shoving them in without giving proper care to develop them. Honestly, after the third episode, I have no idea where this show is going. Of course Chace is going to try to get his money back but... is that it? Hmph!
Should you be watching? Isn't that clear already? Look, I'd actually like to see this show survive because I enjoy the cast for some reason and really think they have the potential for something good or even great, but I also understand that people are busy and don't have time for something that feels like it lacks vision. Blood and Oil are two very thick liquids. I hope the producers and writers can stop trying to look through them and see them for what they have the potential to be.
What do you think? Am I being too much of a roughneck on the show and this is one of your favorite Sunday night shows? Have you seen the show? If so, how do you think Cody and her husband are going to fair in North Dakota? Let me know in the comments below.
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Until next time, “there's oil in dem dere hills!"
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