"Revenge" is soapy, campy fare

REVENGE - "Pilot" - In the premiere episode, "Pilot," Emily returns to Southampton and rents the seaside home she shared with her father, David Clarke (James Tupper), 17 years ago. With the help of her only friend, Ashley, she sets her sites on her first target, and puts her carefully organized plan in motion. Her focus unexpectedly wavers when she comes across Jack, a friendly face from the past, makes a new romantic connection with the son of her sworn enemy, and is pushed into an uneasy alliance with the only person who knows her secret, on the series premiere of "Revenge," WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/JIM BRIDGES) EMILY VANCAMP Jim Bridges

Emily VanCamp in "Revenge."
ABC

(CBS) A woman with a mysterious past comes to a town full of secrets and seeks revenge on those who wronged her.

Sound like a storyline on a daytime soap opera? The premise for a Lifetime movie? You're close. It's the plot for ABC's new Hamptons-set drama, "Revenge." And if you're looking for some campy, soapy fare, this is right up your alley.

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Emily VanCamp ("Brothers & Sisters") plays Emily Thorne, the one with the axe to grind. But Emily, we learn, is actually Amanda Clarke, and she's been to the Hamptons before. She lived there as a little girl, until her father was hauled off to jail on charges of treason, framed by some of their powerful neighbors.

The pilot opens at a lavish engagement party for Emily and Daniel Grayson, the son of Hamptons social queen Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) and her husband, Conrad (Henry Czerny), two of the people who framed Emily/Amanda's father. But, during the gala, the groom is murdered. We then flash back to five months earlier, when Emily arrives in the Hamptons with a plan to ruin the people who ruined her family.

The problem with telling an entire show in flashback is that you know exactly where it's going. And the whole show being centered around Emily's vendetta means we see a lot of her sneaking around and taking covert cell phone photos, which is nowhere near as interesting as the actual vengeance-seeking.

The pilot also introduced a ton of other characters that will be hard to keep track of - there's an Internet billionaire (Gabriel Mann) who knows about Emily's past, Daniel's spoiled sister Charlotte (Christa B. Allen), Emily's party-planner friend Ashley Davenport (Ashley Madekwe), who helps her integrate into the Hamptons social scene, and brothers Jake and Declan Porter (Nick Wechsler and Connor Paolo), who work at their father's local bar. Got all that?

VanCamp is great as Emily - appearing quiet and mild-mannered, all while plotting to destroy the people she's smiling at. And Stowe has the perfect icy stare and sharp tongue for "Queen Victoria."

Bottom line: "Revenge" is full of campy dialogue, plot twists and good, old-fashioned, well, revenge. Those looking for a frothy, primetime soap should enjoy being along for the ride.

Did you watch "Revenge"? Do you think it will last? Vote in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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