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Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp) returns to the Hamptons posing as a socialite, Emily Thorne, in order to exact revenge on the Grayson's, who were responsible for her father's imprisonment.
Created by Mike Kelley
The first season of Revenge had mostly standalone episodes, called 'takedown' episodes, making it easy to watch without having to think too hard. In most episodes, Emily takes down someone who played a part in her father being framed as a terrorist. Her plans for the Grayson's are more long term but there are plenty of people to exact revenge on in the meantime. Whilst I did enjoy the episodes, it became a little silly when new characters were introduced just to be taken within the hour, every single week. This is something the writers have rectified in future seasons but it was quite a good way to start the show, making it accessible to new viewers.
Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters) is a strong lead as the revenge seeking Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne. She essentially plays two different characters, flipping between the scheming revenge seeker and the sweet rich girl at will. Although there is a lot of scene time for the rest of the ensemble, the success of Revenge hinges on VanCamp's performance. Without a decent Emily the show wouldn't work, luckily she is good.
Madeleine Stowe (We Were Soldiers) steals many a scene as the matriarch of the Grayson family, Victoria. You shouldn't really root for Victoria, yet Stowe is so good in the part that you just can't help it. Victoria is suspicious of Emily from the beginning, giving the show some much needed bitchiness. Most of the best scenes in the show are between the two, they play off each other extremely well.
Emily Thorne gets help in exacting revenge from Nolan Ross, portrayed by Gabriel Mann (The Bourne Identity). Nolan is responsible for most of the witty lines, stopping the show descending into too much melodrama (sort of). Mann's delivery is spot on, the character could become a bit of a joke but he knows when to rein it in.
The majority of the rest of the cast is strong; Henry Czerny (Mission Impossible) is brilliant as Victoria's husband Conrad Grayson. It is a bit of a twisted marriage, giving the show lots of tense scenes and as well as banter. Nick Wechsler (Roswell) plays Amanda Clarke's childhood friend Jack Porter, he gives the show some heart and honesty amongst all the lies. I do find it a bit weird that the narrative is supposed to be that Jack and Amanda were pretty much childhood sweethearts yet they were very very young when they knew each other. Freaks me out a bit.
The poorest member of the cast is Josh Bowman (So Undercover) who plays one of the main characters, Daniel Grayson; he acts as Emily's way into the Grayson family. He's English so I kind of feel like I should defend him but he's pretty bad. I'm guessing Bowman was hired for his looks rather than his talents. Even in a show as over the top as Revenge, there is a line that crosses into full on soap opera and Bowman goes over that line too much.
Revenge is a soapy drama but it is addictive, if you buy this DVD you will run through it in no time. As first season's go, this is a very good one. Yes it stalls in the middle section a bit with too many takedowns in a row but the writers rectify it before it becomes stale. It would be easy to dismiss Revenge as just another show with an attractive cast but it is surprisingly good. Give it a try, Revenge is fun.
Madeleine Stowe - Victoria Grayson
Emily VanCamp - Emily Thorne / Amanda Clarke
Gabriel Mann - Nolan Ross
Henry Czerny - Conrad Grayson
Nick Wechsler - Jack Porter
Joshua Bowman - Daniel Grayson
Christa B. Allen - Charlotte Grayson
Ashley Madekwe - Ashley Davenport
Connor Paolo - Declan Porter