River: Season 1 Reviews
August 18, 2021
Stellan Skarsgard brings immense gravitas and an extraordinary ability to change mood and mode in an instant in this engrossing crime series created by Emmy-winning writer Abi Morgan.
July 31, 2020
River is one of those offbeat, magical series that comes along occasionally, bursting with possibility, whose leading character is in some ways the best and worst of us, whom we immediately recognise.
April 16, 2019
Starring Stellan Skarsgård as Detective John River and Nicola Walker as his partner Stevie, the detective drama stood out in an overcrowded genre with its compelling scripts and unusual elements courtesy of writer Abi Morgan.
April 16, 2019
River may well blow it in the remaining four episodes, but as a starting point, the opening salvos are heartbreakingly great.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
April 16, 2019
Inside all the familiar genre trappings-the gunned-down ex-partner, the arse-kicking boss, thrilling foot chases, expensive London skylines, a detective that doesn't play by the rules-is an emotionally meaningful drama led by charismatic performances.
April 16, 2019
It's rare that the final episode of a drama is as brilliant as the first, but everything about River (BBC One, Tuesday) this week is pitch perfect.
December 30, 2015
[The premise] might sound hokey, but this series, created and written by Abi Morgan, is anything but that, growing deeper, darker and more intricate with each episode.
November 23, 2015
Intelligent and eerie, River manages to push past its deflated premise to become a captivating exploration of mental illness and the widespread effects of trauma.
Full Review | Original Score: 8/10
November 17, 2015
(Skarsgård's) performance here was a revelation, switching in seconds from remoteness to fury, from twinkling avuncularity to withering scorn.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
November 17, 2015
It's more than just crime drama - it's about personal tragedy, demons; it's a study of loss and grief (which it shares with the greatest Nordic noir of them all: the first series of The Killing). It's also a study of that - killing - and why people do it.
November 17, 2015
I like the way it's branded like a traditional cop show but then pulls the rug out from under you quite suddenly.
4/10River of no return
Prismark1012 January 2016
River started with great promise starring the legendary Stellan Skarsgard a Swedish actor who appears absolutely anywhere I once saw him in a Merchant/Ivory Bollywood film made in the late 1980s!
The first episode was intriguing, River is talking to his partner Stevie (Nicola Walker) but it turns out she is dead, murdered actually.
River is haunted by past visions, manifestations as he calls them who constantly talk to him and even grate him which he tries to ignore but sometimes talks back to them like Stevie.
River is certainly a cop on the edge. His new partner wants to get to know him even be respected by him but River just ignores him. His superiors want him to see the resident shrink which he does so reluctantly. All the time River wants to find out who killed Stevie and their is also a sub-plot about illegal migrants.
The drama like other Scandi crime dramas is a slow burn although in this case some of the episodes did end with a nice disco song which offset the colourless and humourless River.
However as each episode went on and as River's behaviour becomes even more erratic and I really found the series to be hard going. Although the series was multi layered I did find the conclusion unsatisfactory apart from River will just have to live with his manifestations and that he may not had really known Stevie as well as he thought.
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10/10Stellan Skarsgård plays a detective with a difference
Tweekums18 November 2015Warning: Spoilers
Protagonist DI John River is a policeman determined to solve the murder of his partner, DS Jackie 'Stevie' Stevenson. Many TV detectives have issues
in his case they probably count as a serious mental health issue. He continues to have conversations with Stevie and other dead people; he doesn't believe them to be ghosts, instead he refers to them as 'manifests'. It is no secret that he has problems and after a suspect dies while fleeing arrest River is told that he must see the police psychiatrist. As the case progresses he learns more about Stevie; he knew that her family operated on the wrong side of the law but clues suggest she had secrets too
was she involved in an unofficial investigation or was she corrupt? Either way it is hard for River to learn that his partner was keeping secrets.
When I saw the trailer for this series I was intrigued and having watched it must say I wasn't disappointed. Stellan Skarsgård excels as the eponymous River and Nicola Walker is great as Stevie; their scenes together are a delight I loved her singing disco classic 'I Love to Love' as they drove along a song we later hear him singing in a more poignant scene. The rest of the cast are also impressive. While Stevie is probably the most important manifest River sees others are impotent too; most notably Victorian poisoner Thomas Cream, played in a distinctly creepy manner by Eddie Marsan. Writer Abi Morgan's story nicely interweaves the mystery of who killed Stevie with the question of whether or not River's issues will ultimately lead to his suspension or worse.
A lot of series do well but fail at the final hurdle with a poor resolution thankfully this was not one of them; the answer to the questions 'who killed Stevie' and 'what was her secret' are answered in a way that I hadn't seen coming. This could have given the series a rather downbeat end but instead we get one final bittersweet scene between River and Stevie's manifest that was an utter joy; it is obvious that as much as this was a mystery series it was also a love story. Overall I found this series to be a real delight and strongly recommend it to anybody looking for a mystery with a difference.
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8/10Different, poignant, put all sharp objects out of reach
blanche-218 November 2016
"River" is a series or miniseries from 2015, starring Stellan Skarsgård, Nicola Walker, Leslie Manville, Eddie Marsan, and Jim Norton.
The story concerns John River (Skarsgard), a police detective. In the beginning, we see him with his partner Stevie (Walker). She's singing away, and they arrive at a crime scene. It is then that we see a huge, bloody hole in the back of Stevie's head. She's dead. She's been dead. River sees her and talks to her and to others.
He sets out to find out who killed her and learns things about Stevie that he never knew, and he also finds out she was working a case on her own. Investigating, he turns up corruption, sexual abuse, a family beyond dysfunction, and blackmail.
Brilliantly done series, with a performance by Stellan Skarsgard that is magnificent. But what a depressed, sad guy - don't watch this if you're feeling even a little bit down. Skarsgard has such a sweet smile, but you only get to see it a few times. Madly in love with Stevie, he could never tell her. Now he is alone and heartbroken. He has a new partner Ira King (Adeel Akhtar) whom he ignores. When Ira is injured, his wife (Lydia Leonard) blames River's lack of attention. "I'm depending on you," she cries.
Nicola Walker from MI-5 is wonderful as the singing, laughing Stevie, so different from her character suffering from unrequited love in MI-5.
The end holds a few surprises and the best scene of the series. Just have a box of tissues nearby.
Miserable and depressing as it is, and some of the things uncovered are even worse than River's depression, the end is hopeful and poignant as we see certain characters moving on. There's always hope - sometimes you have to shift your focus in order to continue living.
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grantss5 May 2020
Detective Inspector John River is a great police detective, and a tormented soul. His partner, Detective Sergeant Jackie Stevenson, was murdered recently and this has unhinged him. He sees the perpetrators wherever he looks. Most of all, he still sees her wherever he goes.
Disappointing. Had the potential to be a great, gritty murder investigation drama but instead gets bogged down in style-over-substance psychological padding. The "ghost" of River's partner was novel at first but the card quickly gets overplayed. She turns up in just about every scene and adds very little to the plot.
It gets worse. Rather than just stop at one hallucinated character, writer-creator Abi Morgan then starts to throw in scores of other characters, some of which have no bearing on the plot at all. It all just smacks of "Look how clever and edgy I can be: my series has a detective talking to dead people".
Through all this, the murder aspect was fairly intriguing, and the only reason I kept watching. That has a satisfactory, though not brilliant, conclusion but it's entirely negated by the psychological padding. The whole thing could have been done in half the time, at most.
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5/10rather dull first episode
cherold29 August 2019
There are really a remarkable number of police procedurals involving cops talking to dead people. Some are fantasies in which the dead person really is a ghost, some are cops using their wild imaginations, while River represents the final category: crazy cop.
In the pilot, there is more focus on the main character's depression and madness than on either the story-arc case or the episode case, and unfortunately it's not all that interesting. It's a very broody, muted portrayal, in spite of one ghost murderer who shouts a lot, and the procedural and madness elements feel poorly connected.
People seem to love this series, but I barely made it through one.
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10/10When Mercedes Benz arrived in America...
A_Different_Drummer30 November 2015
Bear with this cranky old reviewer for a moment.
In the 1960s, Consumers Union, the only car magazine in America that actually purchased the cars they reviewed (and resold them after) got their hands on a Mercedes sedan. It was culture shock for all concerned. When the review hit the newsstands -- crammed in among raves for Firebirds and Mustangs -- the editors said that for the first time in their careers (the magazine had been out for well over a decade) they were obliged to give a perfect score ... because the car was ... perfect.
So here I go, pushing toward some 1000 reviews for the IMDb (for which I get a X-Mas card each year from the founder and heartfelt good e-wishes) and I too am compelled to give this series a perfect score.
Because -- and pardon me while I hide behind the complex technical lingo of the professional reviewer -- it is perfect.
From the opening sequence which riffs off a popular song, to the closing bit which riffs off that same song. Perfect.
To the acting, which makes Bruce Willis' performance in a similar American vehicle look like sleepwalking.
And most of all, the scripts. Scripts to die for. Scripts by Abi Morgan (of THE HOUR fame). Scripts so well constructed they could make even Steven Moffat have a rare moment of insecurity, and wonder if perhaps he should have become an accountant.
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7/10A distinct series with a strong leading performance, yet over-sophisticated
BeneCumb20 March 2016
This series has a great benchmark - British production together with a male lead coming from Sweden... So it should be a good mix of British/Scandinavian film noir, with a distinguishable angle - in the form Nicola Walker as DS Jackie "Stevie" Stevenson - but the overall plot and crime-related events are too much subject to mental issues of DI John River (otherwise solidly performed by Stellan Skarsgård). All this accentuates the gloomy mood and enhances tense, but diminishes realism as one could hardly imagine a policeman with such a state in mind continually active in service...
So the promising beginning faded more or less into a psychological horror where the criminal investigation receded into the background too much. The ending solution was a bit far-fetched as well, although no minus points for this from me as I did not guess who the real wrongdoer was.
However, in spite of Mr Skarsgård's great efforts, the series in question is more like Bosch rather than Broadchurch or What remains, for example. But I can easily imagine that River has and will have its loyal and admiring audience.
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10/10D.I River chooses life despite everything.
ianlouisiana15 October 2015Warning: Spoilers
Mr S.Skarsgard has the brooding presence of Mr J Wayne as Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers",and the voice of Mr O.Welles as Harry Lime in "The Third Man". He is a detective obsessed with finding the murderer of his partner Miss N.Walker who was shot in front of him apparently at random. Nothing unusual about that you might think,but Miss Walker appears,as chirpy and irrepressible as she presumably was in life,next to him in his car,in his office and just about anywhere else she chooses,to chide him along,goad him and join him in a karaoke bar,singing joyfully and generally being very annoying,albeit rather endearing. A young girl living in his flat that you might think is his daughter turns out to be the victim of a murder he is investigating and a young man he sees and suspects of being Miss Walkers killer jumps off a balcony and kills himself before revealing to the Inspector that in fact he was innocent. So we can see Mr Skarsgard has a problem with dead people. Additionally he is visited by the ghost of Victorian serial - killer Neil Cream who gives him philosophical insights into the criminal mind. This from a man who,just before he was dropped to hell from the scaffold, shouted "I am Jack the ...." So he needs to be selective in the advice he takes there. If this all seems like a bit of a melange...well,it is,but a brilliant melange. Filmed in what might be called "Scandi - Noir" style,it deals with love and grief in a grown up way,with the scene where Inspector River goes to his late partner's flat and curls up on her bed hugging her pillow was genuinely moving. Even without knowing whether they were having an affair(and I rather think not as she treats him like a teenager might treat a favourite uncle)it is clear he loved her. So accept that this bear of a man,decent and compassionate,is living with ghosts,go along with the fact that his partner has a huge exit wound in the back of her head but still sings her socks off,and wish that guys like D.I. River didn't go out with Brylcreem and Crombie overcoats. Most of all,watch this joyful affirmation of what it means to be alive and how preferable it is to the alternative.
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5/10Far fetched is the new norm.....
s327616922 October 2015
Far fetched would seem to be the new norm for UK crime drama's. Following in the implausible footsteps of shows like Chasing Shadows, River looks at the crime fighting exploits of a seriously flawed detective.
Unlike Chasing Shadows, where the lead detective had a ridiculously low EQ, this time the key character is mentally ill. The proposition of a mentally ill detective, is not too far fetched in itself. What is unbelievable, is the extent of the key characters mental health issues. Going about his job, whilst talking openly and happily to his imaginary murdered colleague. No one seems too bothered by this, save his long suffering boss, who "understands".
All in all, River is a suspension of disbelief too far. Its a shame too, as the show sports an excellent cast and the concept is good, if only the extent of the leads mental health issues had been dialed back and presented more subtly. This series could have rated a seven or eight out of ten, as its stands, five out of ten will have to suffice.
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8/10Mixed Feelings on This One.
wisewebwoman12 December 2015Warning: Spoilers
Rave reviews from those I respect and I was prepared to love this and for the most part I did.
I had a few reservations. One being the totally inappropriate relationship between River and Rosa his shrink. He stalks her and she doesn't report him? He behaves violently in group therapy and ditto she doesn't report him? And they share an intimate, flirtations dinner at his apartment? She is a police psychiatrist and he is under orders to attend multiple sessions with her. She is a complete incompetent not to set boundaries with him and should lose her licence in the real world.
I enjoyed Stolan's performance, really believable and also Lesley Manville's as Chrissy, his boss.
The plot had quite a few holes and Episode 6 had me very frustrated at the big "Tell" which didn't seem to hold together at all. A shame.
I gave it an 8 out of 10 for daring to be different. But IRL this detective would and should be locked up.
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xmasdaybaby19662 June 2021
It took me 5 years to come across this.
I hardly watch BBC anymore. It has been so long since I had seen them to a fun drama like this.
The fun music and unspoken words of love and admiration are generally spread in equal measure.
Nicola Walker does what she does best and plays Nicola Walker; with her warm earthy eyes-wide-open smile and those quirky looks that are so engaging.
As per usual, we have a troubled detective trying his best to make sense of the world and having guilt-ridden visions.
John River is very well played bringing Scandi-noir to East London but did East London need it?
Britain has a plethora of actors that could have played the role but probably wouldn't do as well when it came to international sales.
Thank fly, the PC brigade didn't get their hands on this so no same sex relationships or disabled people playing roles just for the sake of it.
It seems, I missed this both on BBC and Netflix. Thank heavens for Britbox!
A good watch.
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bjarias13 October 2020
... really-tried ... wanted to like-this-series very-badly ... having-great-respect normally-huge-fan of-all these-actors'-work
... just-could-not-get-past all-the-'manifest'-characters continually-popping-up most-every-scene ... becoming-too-irritating ... maybe-will try-again-sometime ... we'll-see
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10/108+ very great cast and story!
surfisfun20 February 2018
Wow, great script and direction. all you need to know its a detective story about a murder and more in London now, Do not miss this series! less you know ,better you are.
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10/10Reality portrayed beautifully.
paulcreeden22 November 2015Warning: Spoilers
I don't hand out ratings of 10 easily, but this series deserves it. Artistry abounds on all levels. Few films rival the quality of this TV production. It is a visual masterpiece. The soundtrack is compelling and never intrusive. The acting is universally superb. And the writing never disappoints.
I have followed Stellan Skarsgard's career for decades. He is an international superstar, though many of his roles are supporting character parts. His ability to play this complex British cop with deep credibility is stunning. Nicola Walker, whom I have recently enjoyed in "Last Tango in Halifax", plays a marvelous specter. Her face is an amazing canvas.
Lesley Manville, who has had a long career of playing supporting roles in Brit productions, blossoms in this series. Her character is complex and evolves as the series progresses in ways which a less talented actress might be challenged to covey with subtlety and depth.
Real aging faces look out of the screen in this series. Grit is not glossed. Flaws are not softened. Insanity is not equivocated as "all good" nor is it condemned. The series portrays the ugly side of family values without apology and with the acceptance of its existence. It shows the need for socially responsible lawfulness over family-centric lawlessness. That alone sets is far apart from the mediocre hash of too many productions on big screens and small.
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9/10Is "Anglonoir" a thing? Stellan Skarsgård and Nicola Walker star in a great BBC-Netflix series
The_late_Buddy_Ryan2 January 2016
There's some amazing chemistry between SS as the melancholy Swede (pretty much the same role he played in Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac") and Nicola Walker as a cheeky, sexy Londoner. The idea of yet another special-needs detective may not seem appealing, but the spectacular way that River's grief and regret are, as he says, made "manifest" has a real emotional kick to it We were bummed when Abi Morgan's brilliant series "The Hour" was canceled a few years back, but this one's even better—a magic-realist romance, a complex police procedural and a Chandleresque tale of buried secrets. The Chandleresque tale may not seem all that original (or even coherent) by the time it's over, but the spooky atmosphere's beautifully sustained, the two leads really bring it and the supporting cast is great (big ups to crazy Eddie Marsan as the Limehouse Poisoner).
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2/1021st Century Schizoid Man
robertguttman16 February 2017
"Cat's foot iron claw Neuro-surgeons scream for more At paranoia's poison door. Twenty first century schizoid man."
It's been half a century since King Crimson performed their heavy-metal rock song, "21st Century Schizoid Man". Now Netflix has turned it into a police detective TV series. I suppose that represents progress of some form. I'd like to be able to say that this series works, but I really can't. The protagonist is a supposedly-Swedish detective working on the London Metropolitan Police. At least, it seems to be understood that he is supposed to be Swedish. However, apart from blond hair and the obligatory glum demeanor popularized by "Wallander", there there is nothing particularly Swedish about him. In addition, no reason is given as to why a Swedish police detective would be working on the London Metropolitan Police in the first place.
Nevertheless, being a Swedish cop in London is not the series' principal gimmick. Detectives with emotional hang-ups seem to be fashionable these days, but River takes that one step further in that he is schizophrenic. Now, I don't have much experience with British police but I would think that, before they are promoted to the rank of Detective, they have acquired a certain degree of astuteness in their ability to observe people. Yet none of River's fellow deceives, including his supervisor, seems to notice that he is what a Harley Street psychiatrist would call "balmy".
For example, there is the instance in which a suspect is killed after being pursued by River, and when his supervisor asks him why he didn't call for back-up, River replies, "we did", and the supervisor clearly knows perfectly well that River was ALONE AT THE TIME. Or there is the press conference River attends with his supervisor, in which River begins talking nonsense. Then there are the numerous occasions when River is observed speaking to people who aren't there. And then again, there is the incident where River's new partner finds him alone in a prison cell, beating his fists against the brick wall. Now, in any other workplace, one would expect such behavior to generate comments among his fellow workers, to the effect that the man is a couple of cans short of a sixpack. However, if this series is to be believed, apparently that sort of behavior doesn't attract any particular attention in the London Metropolitan Police.
Of course, there are a couple o scenes in which River is shown talking to a psychiatrist. However, that is only due to possible post-traumatic stress relating to the death of his former partner, not to treat his schizophrenia. That is, of course, if we are to believe that those sessions actually took place at all. For that matter, can the viewer take it for granted that any of the persons with whom River interacts are really there, or that he is even a police detective at all? After all, when the main character is a schizophrenic, it is impossible to take for granted that anyone around him is not simply a figment of his mentally-ill imagination.
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baywoodarborist18 September 2020
Yeah this series was exceptional. I can't think of anything that I could criticize. Stellen Skarsgard put in a phenomenal special performance. Wow
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7/10its good not great
backnblack-0612313 July 2021
The acting is fantastic, writing okay just a few to many redundant parts and the male character isn't very likable.
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10/10blew me away
Br4ve-trave1or2 December 2015
you know if Netflix presents it, it must be good. wrong. its incredible. the most original detective story I've come across thus far. Stellan Skarsgård knocks it out of the park with his sad eyes alone. his facial expressions speaks volumes. No other actor could have made this character so humanely profound as he does. He struggles with so many issues. I went into this knowing very little and was blown away. I was hooked almost immediately after I found out the first twist within the first 15 min. I love the way his mental decline or status is examined and how its not over the top at all but very real and we accept he's not mad. this is a must watch and very intriguing and is heartbreakingly incredible. It's art disguised as a TV series. IT'S THAT PERFECT! i don't want to spoil anything just WATCH THIS SHOW IMMEDIATELY you'll thank me
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9/10An Amazing Show With An Amazing Premise!
henryshear23 September 2018
I had no idea that Stellan Skarsgard is such an amazing actor. I will not spoil the show, but the many differing emotions that he must exude and demonstrate to the audience is insurmountable and it is amazing that he can even do it.
This review will be one of my shorter ones, just because I want people to watch it! The show is amazing and I highly suggest it. The acting across the board is astounding and there are many twists and turns that cause your jaw to drop. Please, please watch it!!! I hope that you like it!!!
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9/10Surprisingly humane and moving
fraser-simons13 September 2021
I hesitated on this one because generally depictions of mentally ill people are pretty bad. While I cannot in anyway say I'm an authority or have lived experience with this kind of mental illness, I do know that, while also solving a fairly interesting and complex case, in which River's partner was murdered-it also manages to paint a humane portrait of a mental ill person. He is ostracized but highly functional and empathetic and kind, while also having to contend with his illness.
The production values are great. The acting is solid. Locations and cinematography and wardrobe are great. Best of all though, as is rarely the case, the script is great. The plot feels fresh, as do the beats. It has a lot of breathing room, as most British drama does. Some of which always feels like it could be truncated, tbh. But it undeniably strikes a chord; far more so than American conventions manage. It's subversive of the genre and of stereotyping the mentally ill.
It's just solid all around, really. That, plus, the audacity of subject matter and unconventional protagonist and emotional portrayal, make it almost perfect, for me. Highly recommend it.
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10/10The up side of madness
donb-519-33507520 November 2015Warning: Spoilers
British mysteries reach a new high. How could anything be better than "Broadchurch?" Well "RIVER" may have surpassed it.
Stellan Skarsgard (River) and Nicola Walker (Stevie) scintillate in this detective drama. This slowly unfolding story is complex and told against a backdrop of madness with the principle player (Skarsgard) having regular dialogue with a variety of dead people. This is a dark drama which features a number of very likable, yet flawed characters who have to deal with both their present and their past. This story shows how loss and unspoken truths may stay with us, and damage us, forever.
The scenes where River is talking to his dead partner, Stevie, are most effective. Her comments and hints about what was going on in their lives help build tension as well as slowly revealing why she died.
His dialogue with Dr. Thomas Cream (Eddie Marson), another dead guy, is effective, yet very troubling. Cream is a murderer River is reading about who represents evil and is always assailing River with negativity and destructive comments. Eddie Marson also plays Terry in "Ray Stevenson." He is perfect as Cream in this drama.
The ending is excellent as River finally is able to express how he feels to his partner, Stevie - maybe making us think that it was not too little or too late. Makes one wonder about the benefits of madness. This story managed to be both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.
I often judge a show as to whether it brought me to tears, and this one did, at the end. I'm not sure whether we are in for additional seasons of "River," but I hope so - Netflix has a great one in "River." Congratulations to Netflix and thanks.
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10/10BRILLIANT BRILLIANT BRILLIANT
lyninbyron20 April 2018
As per reviews below by Joe & Judy..... A GREAT BIG DITTO to both! Everyone involved in the making of "River" are to be congratulated on the perfection of this miniseries. It engrossed me and I paid full attention to every detail and nuance, which is most unusual! With a lot of the tripe churned out these days, especially from America, I switch off and also never go to the cinema anymore. English dramas are so far ahead of the world, in every aspect and "River" sits proudly on top of the pile for me. A BIG Thank you to all involved XXX
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fiona_r_lamb11 December 2016Warning: Spoilers
I loved this. Just finished binge-watching River on Netflix Canada. I watched it as I greatly enjoy British mysteries but also I love Nicola Walker. And, boy, she did not disappoint in this. From the get-go I was hooked. Loved all the characters; the acting from everyone was stellar altho' I do think that Owen Teale was horrible underused (as the Chief of Police). But the way the drama unfolded hooked me and didn't let go until the final credits were rolling. I cried and cried at the end. Just rethinking the last few scenes choke me up and I cannot keep the disco tune I Love to Love out of my head - total earworm.
A few scenes that stood out for me: when River's boss, played by Lesley Manville, gets changed into a frock in the men's washroom as River calmly stands there and listens. I already mentioned the last few scenes in the Chinese restaurant and outside on the road. I literally cried so hard I began to hyperventilate. In the hospital where River's new partner has been treated after being roughed up and his wife comes in and lashes out at River for abandoning her husband when he needed her. River just stands there and lets her anguish wash over him and then the wife asks him to come over for dinner the next week. Just pure brilliance!
The only reason I deducted a point was that I felt it was a little too slow in parts. I realize why it was slow but it did irritate me a tad.
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9/10BBC Version of Norse Drama, Great!
steven9866414 December 2015
Wow, Stellan Skarsgård, really delivers. Nicola Walker is one of my BBC favorites. The pair really make this show work no matter how odd the plot. I dunno if they have a Scandinavian writer or they are just mimicking that plot type but this one is good. The confusion of River and his problems somehow adds to the show quite a bit. Does he see the unseen, the future, things like this? He seems to through is visions.
I recommend this crime drama but you have to have patience as the plot doesn't unravel quickly....it is pretty slow. The character of River keeps it going, obviously.
The subplots are many and tend to not only surprise but shock.
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Review: In ‘River,’ Stellan Skarsgard Is a Cop Searching for Answers
The cop-with-a-gimmick series and the cop-who-broods series are often different animals. In the first, the lead character has some sort of investigatory superpower — Carrie Wells’s total recall in “Unforgettable,” for instance. In the second, the lead character spends a lot of time brooding, often over a whiskey glass, about an ex-wife, estranged children, a botched case or all three.
“River,” a terrific six-part series first seen on BBC One that came to Netflix without much fanfare in November, re-energizes both those subgenres. The title character, John River, is a brooder with a superpower: He sees dead people.
That might sound hokey, but this series, created and written by Abi Morgan, is anything but that, growing deeper, darker and more intricate with each episode. (Check any “Sixth Sense”-related expectations at the door.) The Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard is superb as River, a British detective who as the series opens has recently seen his policing partner, Jackie Stevenson (Nicola Walker), murdered in a drive-by shooting. It’s not immediately clear that she is dead, though, because we see him chatting with her, something he does frequently as the show goes along.
“I’m not talking to myself,” he explains to a therapist in Episode 2. “There’s always someone there, someone I’m talking to.”
We, the viewers, often see that someone, whether it’s Stevenson, a victim from some other case or, more audaciously, Thomas Neill Cream (Eddie Marsan), a mass murderer from the 1800s. It’s not uncommon for River to converse with these invisible-to-everyone-else figures while other, living people are within earshot. If the series has a flaw, it’s that River’s erratic behavior makes it hard to believe he could stay on the job.
That said, he’s still a top-notch detective, coming up with insights others have missed thanks, partly, to his clarifying chats with the dead. River continues investigating the murder of his partner even though he has been ordered not to — he seems obsessed with her — and as he does, both he and we learn that she had her secrets. Ms. Morgan spools out the revelations slowly, cultivating an ominousness that infuses the entire series.
The show’s premise could easily have made this a silly enterprise, but with Mr. Skarsgard’s tight performance anchoring things, it instead is a first-rate psychological study. Sometimes River just seems crazy; at others, it seems possible he has ascended to a higher level of mental acuity, using the voices of the dead to tell his conscious mind things that he subconsciously knows already. Where police shows like “Columbo” and “Monk” have played with the question of whether a skilled crime solver is gifted or nuts, this one pushes that tension further, suggesting that the answer depends largely on perspective. Certainly River doesn’t think he’s insane.
A fine supporting cast also helps to sell the conceit. Adeel Akhtar does particularly nice, understated work as River’s new partner, who absorbs his eccentricities while patiently trying to steer him toward behavior that doesn’t shout, “I’ve lost my marbles.”
It’s rare that the final episode of a drama is as brilliant as the first, but everything about River (BBC One, Tuesday) this week is pitch perfect.
The entertainingly inventive take on the police procedural is written by Abi Morgan. Its stellar cast is led by Stellan Skarsgård as John River, a London detective haunted by the murder of his partner, Stevie (Nicola Walker) – a fun, sparky character to his troubled, silent one.
Stevie, like others River believes he has failed, literally haunts him, appearing by his side as a manifestation of his grief and guilt until he solves the case. As the series wraps up, the red herrings of earlier episodes disappear, and the detective work – spoiler alert – leads to Stevie’s dodgy East End family as the cause of her death.
In the first episode an Irish matriarch, Bridie (Sorcha Cusack), is simply Stevie’s grieving mother, but slowly she emerges as a horrible character with a dark family secret, a woman whose survival instincts underpin a deadly pragmatism. It’s a hard-hearted interior behind a hard-faced exterior, and Cusack gives a chillingly nuanced performance. Bridie is not the typical TV Irish mammy.
And there’s Uncle Mickey (Jim Norton), who came over on the boat with Bridie’s husband. Now complacent and secure in his suburban mansion, Mickey justifies to River his trade in papers for illegal African migrants (which Stevie was about to reveal) as payback for his own reception in Britain, where he was met with “no Irish, no coloured” signs.
Just as in the first episode, in which Stevie goads River to join her singing the cheesy disco hit Love to Love, the last episode ends with the surreal scene of an ecstatic, unhinged River dancing in the street with a happy Stevie in his arms. As the song plays, passersby on the bus see River swirling around – his arms empty. If you don’t have a little lump in your throat at that point you’re a right Bridie.
River feels complete, with no loose ends to leave the way open for a second series. Which is good. I love the writing and the cast – the leads as well as Lesley Manville, as River’s boss, and Adeel Akhtar, as his new partner – and I think it’s the most intriguing crime drama on TV this year. But a follow-up would ruin its magic.
As everyone’s a sucker for what-happened-next stories, it’s a wonder that a follow-up series based on Joe Duffy’s daily radio phone-in show, Liveline, took so long to appear. A TV series is not, perhaps, the obvious option – radio on TV? – but Liveline: Callback (RTÉ One, Tuesday) works.
Inevitably, it gets stuck for visuals: there’s no need for anyone to see that broadcast mast as frequently as we do unless it’s in your back garden. And although we see Duffy and his team at work in the studio, it’s a pity they don’t talk about their jobs, which have to involve a lot of gatekeeping when it comes to keeping rambling bores, or callers about to fling costly libels down the airwaves, off the phone.
Callback is all about people and their stories. The ones picked for the first episode are strong, reflecting the programme’s rattlebag of subjects, which mixes issues of national importance with shaggy-dog yarns. It’s easy to slag off the “talk to Joe” phenomenon as a whineline, but Liveline’s ability to stir up controversy and influence at the highest level is undeniable. Not every day, by any stretch, but some days.
The story, from 2007, when an inmate at Portlaoise Prison called Liveline begins with predictable interviews with two television regulars: the newspaper crime reporter Paul Williams and the former prison chief John Lonergan. I nearly switch off. If Liveline is about anything it’s about people who normally don’t have a voice being heard, and these two men are familiar faces. But it’s a meaty, revealing story of how a political controversy about prison security blew up on foot of that talk to Joe.
Michael McDowell, the outraged minister for justice of the day, was allowed into the studio by RTÉ to make a statement without taking calls. Duffy felt that it was “direct party-political interference”, and he doesn’t hide his displeasure.
“I was absolutely furious about this caving in to political pressure,” Duffy says, adding that he was “incredulous” at being “called in by management and given a dressing down”.
The follow-up to the Cathy Durkin story features her sisters, and it’s sad and powerful. Durkin is the woman whose Liveline story about not getting access to a cancer drug because of its expense made headlines and reversed Department of Health policy. It came too late for Durkin, but Liveline: Callback interviews a woman who benefited from her intervention.
If Callback steers clear of faces we already know too well and instead puts faces to callers’ voices, then this series, bursting with human interest, could run and run.
Mindful of my colleague Mary Minihan’s funny opinion piece this week about why it’s hard to be a Nordie, and how people from the North are “regularly and unfairly characterised as chippy, miserly and even aggressive”, I resolve to watch more BBC Northern Ireland – and so tune into True North: Will’s Kitchen (BBC One, Monday).
The half-hour documentary follows 14 months in the life of Will Brown as the 27-year-old strives to bring the restaurant in his parents’ rural Co Down B&B up to Michelin standard. We see Brown in the kitchen; he shouts a lot and curses generously, and you wonder who would sign up to be shouted at all day at work. “I reshuffled the team,” he says midway. “To be honest with you they just weren’t talented enough.”
No Michelin star, but Brown does get a Bib Gourmand, a major achievement. Still, he’s disappointed. At a meeting with a mild-mannered restaurant consultant, he storms off because the man dares ask the provenance of his green beans.
“He pretty much pissed me off, and I’m easy enough to get on with,” Brown says, staring down the camera, and you think (sorry, Mary), What’s that about “chippy” and “even aggressive”? But we learn that Brown trained with Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. So maybe it’s not really Nordie nature but macho cheffy nurture.
River review the tv series
8/10Startling drama on many levels
robertemerald13 September 2019
If you want an idea of what this The River is like then you may have seen The Dinosaur Project (2012), or to a lesser degree Anaconda (1997), especially the found-footage camera techniques of the first example, or the characters of the second. The River is a startlingly original supernatural thriller, full of really good action tension and supported by a creepy suspenseful story, that has several alarming evolutions. Each episode features at least one or two good cgi sequences, low key but impressive and believable, nothing like the giant snakes of Anaconda, but pulling their weight. It all winds and treks with bucketloads of sweat and terror toward an unexpected and satisfying end, leaving room for more if ever there is a second series, but not ripping us off. Found-footage dramas are often frustratingly hard to watch either because of the camera shake or because at important moments the camera simply loses focus or gives us rushed impressions of the ground as people flee. The River never suffers this problem as so many cameras are used, from shoulder cams, or from static cameras set up around camps and or from cameras set up all over the boat. In fact, I think the format helped the editing and lent a great weight to the possibilities for extra suspense. The use of light was really impressive. Where raw nature crept in, especially insects or storms, it was also impressive but should have been much more so (don't expect to see shots of jaguars or monkeys or capybaras). I thought there was a lot of over-dramatisation, but when I think back I can't quite put a finger on where believability lost ground, but certainly the profound emotional ties in this story lead to a lack of common sense here and there. Then again, maybe that's a good thing. The River is a rare gem that all horror and sci-fi fans need to experience. It is definitely an experience!
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8/10Startling drama on many levels
robertemerald13 September 2019
If you want an idea of what the extraordinary 8 part show, The River, is really like then you may have seen The Dinosaur Project (2012), or to a lesser degree Anaconda (1997), especially the found-footage camera techniques of the first example, or the wonderful characters of the second. The River is a startlingly original supernatural thriller, full of really good action tension and supported by a creepy suspenseful story, that has several alarming evolutions. Each episode features at least one or two good cgi sequences, low key but impressive and believable, nothing like the giant snakes of Anaconda, but pulling their weight. It all winds and treks with bucketloads of sweat and terror toward an unexpected and satisfying end, leaving room for more if ever there is a second series, but not ripping us off. Found-footage dramas are often frustratingly hard to watch either because of the camera shake or because at important moments the camera simply loses focus or gives us rushed impressions of the ground as people flee. The River never suffers this problem as so many cameras are used, from shoulder cams, or from static cameras set up around camps and or from cameras set up all over the boat. In fact, I think the format helped the editing and lent a great weight to the possibilities for extra suspense. The use of light was really impressive. Where raw nature crept in, especially insects or storms, it was also impressive but should have been much more so (don't expect to see shots of jaguars or monkeys or capybaras). I thought there was a lot of over-dramatisation, but when I think back I can't quite put a finger on where believability lost ground, but certainly the profound emotional ties in this story lead to a lack of common sense here and there. Then again, maybe that's a good thing. The River is a rare gem that all horror and sci-fi fans need to experience. It is definitely an experience!
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6/10For the younger or easy-to-please conessuer.
frankblack-7996129 August 2020
For those of you who have seen quite a lot of the found footage horror genre, you most likely will be laughing quite a lot. Production value is good. Good actors are on board. For the younger folks and easy-to-please fan, you will probably get far more out of this short series. The pace of the show is not slow. Its actually over eager IMO. By the end of the first season the show found a good rhythm but lost too many viewers in the first half of season. Would have liked to see where the show went.
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8/10Great show, wrong network
bayardhiler22 September 2012Warning: Spoilers
"The River" is one of those great shows that you can't help but wonder what could have been. The show is about a famous explorer and naturalist, Dr. Emmet Cole (played by Bruce Greenwood) who mysteriously disappears without a trace in the Amazon. When he is declared dead, his son wants to move on. However, his mother, convinces him to come along with her to the Amazon to find the location where the Dr's beacon was last seen. There's a catch though. In order to be able to do this, they have to travel with a documentary film crew or else there will be no funding. This is where we get the Blair witch look and feel to the show, which should come as no surprise since Oren Peli of "Paranormal Activity" fame created the show. Unbeknowst to our heroes, the area where Emmet Cole was last tracked is a place where very few people have gone to and returned, for this area is controlled by the powers of darkness and inhabited by all sorts of ghosts, spirits, demons, zombies, and powerful shaman natives. All of this equals some pretty cool and spooky episodes. One episode that was particularly creepy was the one that dealt with the vengeful spirit of a little girl and her doll collection. When you see it, you'll know what I'm talking about. Along the way, we learn more about the Cole family and how things were not as perfect as they seemed, such as the strained relationship between Emmet and his son, Lincoln. There's also something shady about the expedition's security chief, though we never find out exactly what's going on. Which brings me to my next point, the fact that despite all of this, the show still got canceled. Perhaps this is one of those shows that should have been on cable, since such shows do not require as much ratings and often times deal with more dark subject matters than your typical broadcast network show. Then again, in this age of gutter reality TV shows like "The Jersey Shore", maybe people just don't know what good television is anymore. And that's something more terrifying than any ghost or goblin.
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8/10Zombies, ghosts, angels and possession! What a mix!
scottmannen15 April 2012
The River. Not exactly a show title that inspires fear or intrigue. The show itself is a supernatural themed horror filmed a la documentary style. A documentary style show that seems to have gotten rid of the shaky camera styles and some of the other annoying camera techniques that some have learned to not like.
The pilot was decent enough; however, I do not believe the show really finds itself until after episode 4 or 5 where it really starts to pickup. There is an adventure team similar to the TV Show Destination Truth that is sent to the Amazons most remote areas to find a missing adventure TV star. Along the way the encounter ghosts, possessions, plagues, a mysterious tribe of head hunters and also a shadowy group of natives that seem to resemble angels? They seem to have scars on their back below their shoulder bones where they apparently have cut off their wings. OK so now we are getting somewhere!
By the time we hit episode 7 the fear has finally reached a new pinnacle. *SPOILERS* For me Episode 7 is what this show should really be! The group wanders into the forest in the most remote region of the Amazon only to encounter what is a very secretive and undoubtedly illegal genetic research facility (not unlike 'The Hive' research facility you see in the movie Resident Evil). The facility appears to be recently destroyed, it is a very large complex of building seeming very out of place located in the middle of the jungle. Upon searching the abandoned facility they manage to find a mass grave in the basement of the main building with corpses that appear to be 'half eaten' and rotting. At this point the show takes on an almost movie like quality inspiring fear, and mystery. This is getting good! It very quickly becomes clear they are not alone...there is fresh blood and recently dismembered body parts in the medical facility indicating recent activity. The group manages to find one survivor, a member of the missing TV show hosts original entourage who seems traumatized having managed to survive for weeks in the building. She warns them of an impending attack of what can only be described as zombies on steroids, or perhaps a living version of infected humans similar to what is seen in the show 28 days later. They are chased by the zombies running for their lives until they manage to barricade themselves into a room while the horde tries to break down their door,,,,what a show!
Thats a taste of what you will find in this series. Admittedly I found that some of the episodes were a little boring; however, there are also episodes that are amazing like episode 7. I truly hope that the episode 7 excitement and level of quality is a sign of what is to come on future episodes for season 2.
Lost in the dark shadows of the Amazon rain forest the group encounters evil magics, ghosts and all sorts of paranormal entities that really seem to add some awesomeness to this show! All the excitement that can be seen in some of the really good episodes is also hurt by the episodes that are not that great. I believe the show has the potential to be truly great and a cult classic if done properly.
If Netflix picks up season 2 of the series there will be hope for it yet! I would like to see the show take on a more 'the walking dead' type spin- I mean zombies in the amazon rain forest!?! what could be better than this!
Good show, great potential. I have great hopes for Season 2 and go ahead and enjoy season 1 !
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boydwalters26 March 2012
Don't waste your life on this rubbish ... Half way through part 2 I was already thinking I need to turn this off and do something more interesting and trim my toenails or something Can somebody please tell these idiots that it is no good trying to make something without getting a writer with more than one brain cell before starting ... This one had obviously seen Cannibal Holocaust at some stage and decided to use one of the concepts from that to base a series ... Cretin .. That's the only word word that comes to mind ... Mind you the word repeats itself when it comes to ABC who produced this nonsense ... One presumes someone there can read a script before it gets the go ahead .. Though maybe not these days Badly acted ... Badly shot ( if that's the right word for it ) ... And written by an imbecile
Cut your toenails folks ... Its much more productive
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1/10Travesty of Television Production
dianerpessler-4616420 July 2015
Mercifully, this miserable program had a stake driven through its heart early on and will likely never rise from its well deserved grave. Considering Oren Pell is listed as a creator, he of Chernobyl Diaries and Paranormal Activity infamy, it's a wonder this thing ever saw the light of day. With the terrible scripts and dramatic structure, it's quite mysterious how some respected actors, such as Bruce Greenwood, were seduced into this quagmire of sludge. Even Amblin Entertainment? Now, that's impressive. What isn't impressive is anything at all about this trashy show. None of it makes sense and it ends up making Lost seem clear as a bell.
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9/10An Underrated Gem of the Television World
slayerjmk9528 March 2013
In 2012, a new TV show aired on ABC called "The River;" amongst the constant release of "found-footage" horror films, or those mixed with traditional film, it seemed only fitting that a television series be made too, since these movies were so popular. Sadly, "The River" was canceled after only 8 episodes, and in these 8 episodes (produced by legend Steven Spielberg) we were introduced to a place where everything we know is wrong. "The River" is centered around an expedition into the Amazon, where TV show host, role model, and father Emmett Cole (Bruce Greenwood) went missing after his 22-year of the Undiscovered Country, a TV series that involved him and his family traversing the wild. Lincoln (Joe Anderson), his mother Tess (Leslie Hope) and some of the old crew of the Undiscovered Country then begin searching for Emmett, who's last position was on the Boiuna, a part of the Amazon that mysteriously vanishes into dense forest.
"The River" is easily one of the most entertaining, thrilling television shows ever made, as its strong cast, great visuals, sleek directing and creativity create an engrossing atmosphere and characters that you love and ones you love to hate. I have no clue why this was canceled because there was so much potential for this show to be something extraordinarily great; a cross between Lost and Prometheus, except Prometheus is getting a sequel. Now, I would recommend this show to everyone because it is something truly different, and full of cerebral scares (and a few jump scares), but because of the way it's filmed I cannot; some people can't handle the "found-footage" angles and shots. But those willing to watch, mainly those who love sci-fi/mystery/horror, will not be sorry. Hopefully someone can get the guys at ABC or whoever to use Kickstarter to bring back The River.
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4/10Blair Witch, Lost in the Valley of the Dolls
Narce11 February 2012
Really, the Found Footage thing is starting to get a little lame - and more than a little annoying! Add to this the unseen rustling thing in the jungle (a la Black Smoke) and the BOOGA BOOGA jump-out-of-nowhere staple of cheap horror films.
Then cap it off with scenes from the Mattel Graveyard (where old dolls go to create stupid legends - really, isolated Amazon tribes living in an area that's not even shown on any maps are supposed to get their hands on truckloads of discarded dolls. They must have really good courier service!)
Sorry, but I've seen too much of this before - and most of the time, I didn't particularly like it. --- Having viewed Episode 3, I have decided not to bother watching this show - too many predictable plot "twists", too much shaky-cam and "camera malfunction" footage, just too much of a bad thing.
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6/10Go with the flow.
sagei9 February 2012Warning: Spoilers
It is a fun ride.
A divertissement that knows it's place and embraces it.
No delusions of grandeur. No absurdly convoluted plot whose ending will reduce you to ranting at writers. It's ghost and magic right off the bat.
There is nothing really new here. Only question was can they make it work ?
Pace is surprisingly brisk.
Cast is competent rather than brilliant. Poor leslie. Screaming at unseen things is clearly outside her wheelhouse.
In her defence, the effects are nothing to shout about. The setting feels generic.
Yet they managed to occasionally create a sense of creepiness.
Makes for uneasy if not scary viewing.
The real horror in such productions is shaky cam. Thankfully limited by a rather clever device. The boat is home/base for a renowned TV personality and so is fitted with a bunch of mounted cameras . Also the hand-held cams footage is not shot by epileptics.
They went for simplicity. Simple story which should leave you with a simple desire to see how it all plays out.
Can't wait to see what happens next.
Wish them well.
Still pacy but clearly losing steam and viewers.
Could listen to Greenwood all day but looks like this one will live fast and die young.
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9/10Please Make Season 2!
zwjonas27 June 2021
I have watched this show through atleast twice. So sad they ever cancelled it and still have not picked it up. Good cast. Acting wasn't bad (mostly). Interesting plot. It almost feels like by the end they have both done too much (leaving not enough room to grow) and not enough (such as prepping new storylines/interests). This was a bit dark for NBC ecspecially when it aired. So many awesome places this show could go though. Please revive it!
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10/10OK people just because it's people in a jungle does not mean it's trying to be Lost or a Lost ripoff!
TheFarscapeProject74711 February 2012Warning: Spoilers
I knew even before watching the show that there would be people who would be sitting down with a pen and notebook ready to nitpick and complain that this show was either ripping off Lost, or not enough like it. In almost every review here and most places people mention Lost. As I said these people are in a jungle, and there are strange, supernatural, and horrific things that go on there, in the first half it's something that makes a loud noise along with a voice behind it and people are crying "Black smoke monster!" The thing is neither black, smoke, or even a monster. after that the similarities with Lost end.
For example the supernatural elements in The River are based on real myths and legends of the Amazon. The dolls hanging in the trees was/is something the natives did to keep away evil spirits. And whatever the name of the thing was in the first half is also based on actual mythology. Now the supernatural elements in Lost were are completely original to the show. The Mythology of Lost was all made up by the producers and writers of the show.
Now as for the non Lost stuff, the show is shot in documentary style ala paranormal activity mixed with any other nature documentary ever made, with only SOMETIMES shaky camera work. In fact the majority of the camera work is like watching a DOCUMENTARY, when we aren't seeing a POV from someone holding a camera it's from a camera mounted or on a tripod or something. After all one of the show's creators is the director of the PA movies, and yet people seem surprised and even insulted by this!
Oh yes and to Mark Pittam who complained in his review that the missing boat they find had modern equipment. The boat had only been missing for SIX MONTHS, not since the 80's so pay attention next time. And to the person who gave a bad review because it was all unknown actors, Really?
Anyway The River is absolutely a truly fantastic and original show. It is not like anything that has been done as a TV show before. I suppose the name of the genre of movies like PA, Blair Witch etc is called "found footage" which really doesn't make much sense because that idea only applied to BW and Cloverfield. Nobody found the footage buried somewhere in the PA movies or The River but I digress. There have been plenty of movies like that but this is the first attempt at a TV show and I think it works better than most of those movies. The camera work even when shaky with people running is of higher quality and even the stuff that's supposed to be difficult to see is easier than the movies.
The plot starts out simple, the host of a popular nature documentary show, Dr Emmett Cole, went missing in the Amazon along with his cameraman and some other crew members on his boat "The Magus" Six months later a beacon or some kind of GPS goes off and Cole's wife convinces her estranged son to come with her to look for him. Along with them comes the show's producer, a shady "bodygaurd" with an arsenal, the boat's pilot and his teenage daughter, and some new camera people crew and and together they, well I don't think sail is the word but take off on their own boats down the Amazon river. Throughout the show we get some back story and some flashbacks about the Coles, and warnings from the daughter of the pilot. It's not very long into the first half of the show when they find "The Magus" and the beacon itself, but the boat is deserted. Then things really start to get creepy, watch this show with the lights turned off and the sound turned up and you will feel like you are watching a movie. From dragonflies, to dark spirits, to possessions, to communication through magic, to a tree with creepy dolls that should not be F'd with, and all that in the first two episodes. The River is a journey into The heart of darkness, the line that works that has been used before to describe this show would be "There are some places that we are not meant to go, oh yeah and don't [email protected]#$ with things you don't understand
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2/10Difficult to watch on many different levels
LAmitch22 February 2012
IMDb put this program in the categories Action / Horror / Thriller. My satellite TV guide refers to it as Drama / Mystery / Crime. I would categorize it as Fake-reality / Supernatural / Sad attempt at Thriller. In the name of full disclosure, I've never seen a fake reality show or movie that I liked, horror shows are not often my favorite, but I occasionally do like horror films. I frequently like crime, mysteries, thrillers, and even supernatural shows.
The problem with The River is when you try to combine Reality TV, with Supernatural entertainment, the best one can hope for is humor, and the worst case is uninteresting boredom; The River has achieved the latter in spectacular fashion. Add to the conceptual failure the cinematography style, which is kind of Blair Witch meets Big Brother, and we end up with an epic fail (to use a modern colloquialism). If they were to forgo the reality TV aspect, film it in a traditional TV drama technique, and improve the characters' emotional reactions and dialog, this might be worth watching; as it is, it's a painful waste of time.
As with so many things in life, there are different strokes for different folks. Some people seem to like it, so good for them and I hope they enjoy the show. I suspect that many people who do like this show have favorable opinions of reality TV, supernatural events, magic, the healing powers of homeopathy, and many other forms credulous woo. I sure hope that Mr. Spielberg just sold the rights to use his name in association with this show, because if he actually had anything to do with this show's production, then he should be deeply embarrassed and ashamed.
Wow, would you look at that? This may be a sign from the TV gods. If you filter your view of these reviews by chronological order, then the review following this one seems to support my previous statement. The reviewer below believes the show rates 10 out of 10 stars, and that it is somehow a wise and wonderful tale of a struggle between scientific evolutionary theory, and spiritual faith. That is some serious, world class, Grade A Woo right there.
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Fizgig77710 February 2012
They got me to watch the pilot touting Spielberg's name and all that... I didn't expect great things with the whole Paranormal Activity link and actors whom, for the most part, I hadn't heard of before. Made for TV horror and airing on ABC brought the expectations down a bit too.
So, I watched... The acting wasn't horrible; wasn't great either. The storyline did have some intrigue. A few really creepy moments -- mainly surrounding scenes with creepy dolls hung from trees.
Now, with regard to my summary... The camera work is horrendous! I get it... Blair Witch style shooting or amateur documentary style shooting. Whichever... The result was too many unwatchable scenes. Two hours of cameras zooming around aimlessly, ridiculously out of focus, no idea where to look was too much! I was listening more than watching through many sections to keep from getting a headache. Seriously, this made the shoddy camera work in Blair Witch seem fantastic by comparison! Will I continue to watch ? Not likely... Not if the whole series is filmed the way the pilot eps. were.
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aaalllrrraaammm22 February 2012
I know I will watch every episode of this because it is my genre, but with every minute of it I feel my time going down a sinkhole...
I don't know if I can put my finger on what exactly is wrong with this show, but something is OFF. From the cheesy "there is magic out there" to the hispanic girl who understands English but does not speak a word of it. Even in the tightest of life-or-death situations she needs an interpreter to provide crucial piece of info. Plus she seems to hold 4 doctorates in the history of South America with specialization in the amazonian occult.
Characters are also given a window of 3 minutes to develop, so I feel like everyone has a secret just because they did not have the time to tell anyone.
The story has a flow, but it also feels like it can go anywhere, as in undefined. The characters might as well (in the middle of the season) wake up in the belly of an intergalactic frog hopping from one black hole to another.
I am holding my breath and waiting for the spirit of Steven Spielberg to appear from the jungle, but nada.
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tickin15 February 2012Warning: Spoilers
This show is certainly fast paced, it shoots out of the gate and maintains it's velocity. If you like that sort of thing and are willing to go with the premise, you'll enjoy it.
Personally, I can't easily accept the witchcraft & dark forces embedded in this story. I'm not sure why though because generally I don't mind that sort of thing. It just seems the show is a little over the top and i think it may have to do with how quickly the characters believe in the supernatural and even quicker, how they cope with it.
As far as acting goes, no one really shines in the show. Which is a shame because Greenwood is a topnotch actor (as is Kretschmann). But apparently there's not much to cling to here.
Anyway, if you enjoy watching race cars go through of gauntlet of sinister forces, here's your fix, enjoy.
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4/10Another money maker
budssubscriptions3 May 2012Warning: Spoilers
I Want a story that is planned, written from the outset with a start, a middle and an end. Not one that tries to define itself as it goes and not one that leaves itself open for a sequel that promises nothing more but more laboured excuses for a sojourn through the whittled mind of an underpaid writer trying to justify his (or her) existence.
The River started OK, I won't go into the professional camera work that occurs throughout on what should be hand-held cameras because that is a petty put down that the show doesn't deserve. However there was professional camera work throughout that detracted from the fact that this was recovered footage. :-)
The acting was OK. Although the bird that was Jack Bauer's wife in 24 is equally as annoying in this. I wouldn't want to watch another series of this, but most of all what I really wanted was for this to be a stand alone series that started and finished.
Please Fox, ABC or whoever just write a good story that makes sense.
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pvmpro10 February 2012
Its unlike anything you have seen before. The story especially has a loooooootttt! of depth , believe me. I wouldn't be surprised if this show goes on for a second season if they keep up to what they are doing now . Three things , Great Story , Great cast and Brilliant direction , can be the right ingredients for a Great Show. And that's exactly what you get to see.
However, I did see a weakness in the script , which was when they come across the 'doll tree' , it was to me like going back and knocking on the doors of 'Child's Play' franchise. Please director, I beg you ,if you do not show any more dolls , the show will definitely lose its originality.
You will like the show indefinitely if you're in for a thrilling time at home. "Brace Yourself"
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2/10Empty and seen before - SPOILER
duckrogers00717 October 2012Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand other reviews. What is so scary in River? Maybe in Amazon for real to be with bleeding cut on the leg at night, in the water?
The series is full of characterizations of characters, flashbacks from past etc...and I get nothing from them just bored. No feelings , nothing, empty...
The story? OK could have potential, but somewhere along the way it got lost. Maybe when they found out that the "River" is being cut out of program. Don't know.
But this is NOT "scary as hell" as some titles of reviews states, nor refreshing. It is adventure, but just promising in some parts that never fulfill that promises.
I love horror, suspense, thriller, and adventure movies, and the "River" delivers it in a tea spoon every hour or so.
For me it is not enough. And between those short scenes me and my girl were always on verge to just fast forward it to the net scene.
I gave it a 2 stars.
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martinj9189 February 2012Warning: Spoilers
Bouncing the camera around does not make a movie shocking. And deep noises off screen don't convey horror. Maybe this will improve but the first hours were awful. The show seemed to be operating without a script. It may be too demanding to ask the writers to begin the story in a light hearted manner so that the coming shocks had a "normal" for impact. The story progressed from deep off screen noises with expressions of shock on the actors' faces to a jiggle the camera sequence with the usual indication that something horrible is about to happen and then to, well, nothing. It probably goes without saying that the plot will depend on shocking monsters that will appear. It needed some monsters in the first hours and it needed to establish "normal" to give a contest for the shocks. It had neither
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10/10I'm GLAD this show is not "Lost"
scarecrow7213 February 2012Warning: Spoilers
So many of the reviews seem to be comparing the show to "Lost," which I found to be a VERY boring series. I watched the first few episodes of "Lost" and occasionally after that as everyone (and the critics) were saying what a good show it was. "Lost" was too slow moving, too slow in developing characters, too slow in developing plot, and just plain BORING.
"The River" is fast moving and there is NEVER a dull moment. While I wouldn't describe it as "scary," (or that you need to watch it with someone else as the commercials say) it is CONSTANT suspense about what is going to happen next.
This is a show that requires careful watching and not one you can be doing something else (as many shows are) as you "watch" them and follow everything that is happening. I just watched it on On-demand, and being able to rewind and re-watch some parts was very handy.
Many of the reviews seem to have not watched the show, CAREFULLY, as the one that thought the ship was lost in the 1980s. There are other reviews that gave low ratings, that also seem to have not paid attention and/or let their minds wander as they watching, as their reviews contain inaccuracies on what they said happened.
For those that complain about the lack of special effects, I'm glad there are not a lot. Maybe being older I'm not enthused by series that are nothing but special effects, and try to emulate Star Wars. (Another series of boring movies.) All in all, this series holds promise. It reminds me of a well-written novel that you can't put down and have to keep reading and turning pages into the night. If there were 10 hours in a row, I would have gladly sat down and spent the whole day watching.
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goldenstar211 February 2012Warning: Spoilers
Just when I thought that TV could not get any worse along comes this garbage. How can Spielberg allow his name to be associated with this horror. I also picked up that Spanish instead of Portuguese was spoken; I would like to direct the folks responsible for this mess to the CIA website where they can get some useful information about a country for free as they obviously slept through Geography class. The story-line is as jerky as the photography, I am pleased I kept an air-sick bag handy. The "research vessel" looks like the "African Queen" minus good actors. By the time Leslie Hope was sucked into the swamp I was fervently praying that she would never return; her screams were like fingernails being scratched down a chalk-board. The trees full of dolls brought out my hunting instincts; do you get a stuffed animal if you shoot one? The river looks very much like the mangrove swamps on the south side of Puerto Rico, a place I have sheltered in on a boat from a hurricane; not very Amazon like. The fake dragonflies are cool, so I have awarded it one star.
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9/10Really Scary For A Television Show
Matt-Nguyen26 July 2013Warning: Spoilers
When I saw the trailer/promo for this show, I knew I wanted to watch it. You don't see very many horror television shows, but this one proved that the genre can be a success if done right. With an appealing cast and twisted story, "The River" creates an awesome show to watch. I think that a lot more could have been done with the show if given the chance.
Each episode delivered more mystery and suspense with heart-stopping moments. The characters are also easy to relate to as their stories are developed. I don't remember much about this show except for the fact that it was awesome!
If I'm not mistaken, I think the show ended with a scene of the river and the land around it constantly changing so that the travelers could never get out. That was a good cutoff that should have been continued.
I wouldn't recommend this for the faint of heart, as it is definitely not for them. If you are a fan of horror or if you just want a good scare, watch "The River"!
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hemmetti17 March 2012
How can I review The River for minimum 10 lines. Should I say it is one of the worst TV series that I've seen in so many years in a ten lines? Bad, Bad, Bad. Worse than bad. Someone has been watching cheap horror movies or that lousy horror movie that I'm not going to mention here... This stupid don't know what, living camera, blurred shots, all so stupid rapid zooming back and worth here and there, boring and disturbing camera movements... not good. Acting is just like everybody is ashamed to act like a stupid. I miss those movies and series that had loooong and slow camera work. The River is just something between "I know what you did.." thing movie and that other annoying horror movie that was a hit some years ago with that stupid "live camera" bullshit,can't remember the name, but The River is both and much worse. I feel sorry for those who does this series. *palmface* Maybe one of the worst series that I have seen... well, 3 episodes was enough for me. People are stupid, so this will go for 4 seasons or so?
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Rose_strffen27 February 2012
My favorite genre and yet there is something completely off about this series. The shaky cam footage where they don't really show anything offers no real scares and the way the series was produced is, well, boring to say the least. The actors performances are wooden as if they are just trying to get through their scenes so they can go home and get a paycheck. The SciFi, fantasy, supernatural, and horror genre are supposed to take you out of your comfort zone and into a different realm, whether it be magical, scary, or otherwise. With this show, I felt like I was watching a program that was in production and not "gelling" coherently. There is a hokey feel to the show, akin to a daytime soap opera. It was painful to get through the first couple of episodes - I finally gave up on the series. It was such a promising idea and had so much hype put forth ahead of the series premier that it is a shame that the end result didn't match the interesting, original premise of the show.
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River (TV series)
British television drama series
Not to be confused with The River (UK TV series) or The River (U.S. TV series).
River is a six-part British television drama series, created and written by Abi Morgan and starring Stellan Skarsgård and Nicola Walker. It premiered on BBC One on 13 October 2015 and internationally on Netflix on 18 November 2015. The series is a police procedural but Detective Inspector John River is suffering from guilt after the killing of his partner, who appears as a ghost, a figment of River's hallucination.
The series was commissioned by Charlotte Moore and Ben Stephenson. The executive producers are Jane Featherstone, Manda Levin, Abi Morgan and Lucy Richer. Filming began in London in October 2014. The series was made by Kudos and will be distributed globally by Shine International.
Vicki Power of the Daily Express reported Skarsgård saying of his role as DI River, "There's not much research you can do because his condition doesn't really exist as we know it. It's a combination of problems, because he's not like people who hear voices – they're usually schizophrenic and lack empathy and he does not. But it doesn't make it less truthful. What attracted me to the script is that it didn't look like any other script I've ever read." Power added, "The series is the brainchild of Emmy-winner Abi Morgan, who wrote The Hour and The Iron Lady. Abi freely admits she nicked the idea from the late Anthony Minghella, who directed the 1990 fantasy film Truly, Madly, Deeply, in which a grieving woman's (Juliet Stevenson) dead boyfriend appears to come back to life".
Describing how she addressed the subject of living with voices in your head, as River does, Morgan told the BBC, "I know from myself, I talk out loud. I've got children and they say to me 'mummy, you talk to yourself all the time'. I realised how much I do have other people in my head and what a comfort they are to me. It's not just about those who experience voices through mental health, it's the voices we carry from our past, our future or experiences, that we manifest and I hope that's something that an audience will identify with".
Talking about recording the scenes involving manifests, Skarsgård said: "How we practically do it is we usually shoot the scene first with the actor who plays the manifest and then we shoot the same scene exactly the same way but without anybody there. It looks fantastic, because you walk around, you gesture and talk to somebody that isn't there and it's quite interesting visually. To me, I'm the kind of actor who doesn't want to act towards a mark beside the camera; I want the real actor to be there, and I feed so much off the other actors. So it's very unnatural to me to do it, but since we always do the scene with the actor first I have a very clear memory and then we do it with the real actor saying the lines, so I still get a response and it becomes more like playing a game of ping pong".
The series used the song I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance) at the start and end of the first episode and at the end of the last episode.
Filming took place across at least eight London Boroughs - Lambeth, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Southwark, Redbridge, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham.
Notable roads, buildings and landmarks include Clerkenwell Road in Islington, Southwark Park, Globe Theatre and Millennium Bridge in Southwark, and Stratford International in Newham.
After the first episode, Sam Wollaston wrote in The Guardian: "It's more than just crime drama – it's about personal tragedy, demons; it's a study of loss and grief (which it shares with the greatest Nordic noir of them all: the first series of The Killing). It's also a study of that – killing – and why people do it. And why they did it – Mr Cream brings a historical perspective to it. And Abi Morgan, the creator of the series, brings a characteristic humanness to it all; it's as much about who the people are as about what they do to each other. Good enough for me."
The first episode also impressed the Daily Telegraph's Tim Martin, who gave it a full five stars in his review and called it "superlatively creepy TV" and "a dense and thoughtful police procedural". Martin found that: "Much of the credit also belongs to Skarsgård […] His performance here was a revelation, switching in seconds from remoteness to fury, from twinkling avuncularity to withering scorn – and the emotional punch at the end of this episode, when River finally admitted the extent of his psychological distress, was the most moving thing I've seen on television for some time. Then he went home to find a dead man sitting on his bed. Personally, I can't wait for next week."
Daisy Wyatt, in The Independent, found the series "well-written and shot beautifully, but the criminal investigation is not the crux of the drama. River's mind becomes the crime scene as he struggles with psychotic hallucinations – or 'manifests' as he calls them – of past victims, namely colleague Detective Jackie 'Stevie' Stevenson, played by Walker."
Reviewing Episode Two for The Daily Telegraph, Gerard O'Donovan gave it 4 out of 5 stars, writing: "Two episodes in, River (BBC Two) is proving a most intriguing piece of television. It takes the shape – and tropes – of a standard police drama yet appears to be expanding, flowing even, into something quite different" and called Skarsgård "extraordinarily expressive." O'Donovan concluded that, "River – so far at least […] offers a richer emotional landscape than most crime drama on TV."
The final episode earned a five-star review from The Daily Telegraph's Michael Hogan, who noted, "Skarsgård delivered a powerhouse performance: sad and soulful in one scene, sardonically spiky and manically energetic in the next." Hogan praised the production, writing: "This series was beautifully written by Abi Morgan, stylishly directed, and most of all, superbly acted." He concluded by saying, "I'm torn between wanting River to get recommissioned […] and wanting this series to stand alone as six near-perfect episodes. Creepy yet ultimately uplifting, River stands alongside London Spy, Humans and Wolf Hall as one of the year's best home-grown TV dramas."
For her role as DCI Chrissie Read, Lesley Manville earned a nomination for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress.
- ^"Abi Morgan to pen new detective series for BBC". The Daily Telegraph. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- ^"Netflix Acquires BBC's 'River' Starring Stellan Skarsgård". Deadline. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- ^"John Doyle: Watch River, a masterpiece of melancholy crime drama". Globe and Mail. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- ^"BBC One River, Episode 1: Credits". BBC. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- ^Jeffery, Morgan (28 February 2014). "Stellan Skarsgård to star in BBC One crime drama from The Hour creator". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- ^"Skarsgård gör brittisk deckarserie". Svenska Dagbladet. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- ^ ab"Production starts on BBC One's River starring Stellan Skarsgard". BBC. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- ^"BBC One announces brand-new drama series RIVER, by Emmy award-winning writer Abi Morgan". BBC. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- ^White, Peter (24 September 2013). "BBC1 orders Abi Morgan crime series". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- ^ abPower, Vicki (10 October 2015). "Mamma Mia! star Stellan Skarsgård on playing a TV cop: I was really yearning for this role". Daily Express. London. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- ^"Writing 'River' for BBC One". BBC. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- ^"River"(PDF). BBC. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- ^"London's at its moody best in Scandi-style River" (Press release). FilmFixer. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- ^ ab"Weekly Top 30s". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
- ^"BBC One - River, Episode 4". BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- ^"BBC One - River, Episode 5". BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- ^"BBC One - River, Episode 6". BBC. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- ^Wollaston, Sam (13 October 2015). "River review – pairing personal demons with a peculiar police partnership". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- ^Martin, Tim (13 October 2015). "River, review: 'superlatively creepy'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
- ^Wyatt, Daisy (13 October 2015). "River, BBC1 - TV review: It's hard to feel sorry for Stellan Skarsgard's Scandi-chic police officer". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- ^O'Donovan, Gerard (20 October 2015). "River, episode two, review: 'a superb central performance'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- ^Hogan, Michael (17 November 2015). "River, episode six, review: 'one of the year's best home-grown TV dramas'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
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Why River is an exquisite stinker, from top to bottom
Can you imagine working with insufferable detective John River? Having to look at him all day as he stares balefully into the middle distance like a lollipop man who’s lost his sign.
He doesn’t quite wander round asking, “Have you seen my sign? I left it here somewhere. It’s big and quite noticeable and I must have it back. Have you seen my sign?” But it’s a close thing.
Then there are the tears. John River cries all the time. Which is fine, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a bloke having a blub, I’m all for it. But in the words of the estimable The Streets, dry your eyes, mate. You’re a senior police officer – for god’s sake pull yourself together.
Then there are those moments of unfocused fury as River (Stellan Skarsgard) lashes out, apparently at thin air, or bashes his bloodied fists into a wall. What he’s actually doing is seeing and sometimes punching the ghosts of murdered people. He does that, it’s his thing. All miserable television detectives have a thing – from Inspector Morse, who was a solitary, romantically thwarted curmudgeon who could never find happiness and did crosswords as a displacement activity, to Det Insp Pat Chappel in The Vice who couldn’t help but fall in love with prostitutes who always ended up murdered.
Imagine, as his putative workmate, asking River if he wants a cup of coffee from the canteen because you’re going that way and you don’t mind at all so what would he like? Milk? Sugar? Imagine the existential chasms those questions would open for a man who is Not Like Others. Imagine if he wanted a biscuit. Just think of all the pained expressions as he tore himself apart over the question that lies at the heart of our very selves – bourbon or shortbread?
River is one of those dramas that takes itself terrifically seriously (see also From Darkness). At its heart it’s a crime story, but it’s clear writer Abi Morgan wants it to be so much more – it’s a study of a Damaged Soul, a Shattered Psyche, a Man Who is in Torment After the Murder of His Sidekick.
But River is just a series of miserable stories about a miserable man with some miserable friends (see also DCI Banks, Taggart, Luther – the list is endless). There’s an unintentionally hilariously bleak dinner party in this week’s episode where River’s boss’s husband, a judge (Michael Maloney), gets drunk and opens his own heart of darkness.
“I am dying from the inside,” says this cheerful host, cheerfully. “I hate my life… Life neuters us all.” Erm, OK. Are there going to be cheese and biscuits? A nice bit of Wensleydale would go down a treat right now .
In short, River is an exquisite stinker, watch it and you have to leave a window open afterwards. It’s so bad even the magnificent Nicola Walker can’t save it. She’s singularly irritating as River’s dead/ghost ex-colleague who insists upon appearing to him talking uncomfortably in an ill-fitting gorblimey accent.
I’m all for a bit of Scandi gloom, but Skarsgard, who doesn’t so much talk as rumble like a distant avalanche, is a black blanket of darkness. Whenever I see him I hear Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart playing over and over in my head. All of the great Nordic Noir shows – The Killing, The Bridge – had pulses of dark humour that made them vibrate, rather than just sweat with portent like River. And why doesn’t John River just ask these ghosts, the “manifests” of murder victims, as he calls them, “Who killed you?” Then they’d tell him and we could all go off and have a party.
River airs on Friday nights on ABC in Australia