Pilot: “Blood & Oil”

When a trailer tries so hard to get you to like it, even though it only looks and sounds like another show that already aired, twice, it might be a good thing to steer clear of it. Of course, if the actual plot and characters and everything else showcased in the trailer look and sound terrible, you may already know the answer to the sole question that matters.

The ABC Signature Studios production “Blood & Oil”, is really just recycled on all levels, and it’s considerably less soapy.

The drama series stars Don Johnson (“Saturday Night Live”, “From Dusk Till Dawn (2014 TV series)”), Chase Crawford (“Glee”, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”), Rebecca Rittenhouse (“Red Band Society”, “The Affair”), Scott Michael Foster (“Chasing Life”, “Once Upon a Time”), Amber Valletta (“Hot in Cleveland”, “Revenge”), India de Beaufort (“The Night Shift”, “Castle”), and Delroy Lindo (upcoming “Point Break (2015)”, “Do You Believe?”).

The series was created by Josh Pate (“Legends”, “Falling Skies”), and Rodes Fishburne.

This particular TV season doesn’t exactly look like the one where I learn to just not watch shows that look like crap. I honestly can’t count how many shows I’ve watched this past week, and will probably watch this week, that are bad or worse. I guess, in some ways, I’m a sucker for pain. I really need to rethink my approach to new shows. Thank God this one isn’t really reliant on the cast. If it were, I’d be even more annoyed by this show than I am now.

I’m just going to say it now, in case you hadn’t figured out my not so subtle clues, that this show is the lazy form of the classic series “Dallas”. It’s plot immediately screamed that to me and many TV critics too. What’s worse, this show isn’t even looking to be at all interesting in the way that the “Dallas (2012 TV series)”, reboot was. That show fortunately had a rich and complex history to draw from, but the creator Cynthia Cidre (“And Baby Will Fall”, “Cane”), actually brought it into the present quite well. This show only wishes it could do that.

Up next, ratings. Ah, ratings. The thing that still, albeit a bit differently, determines a shows fate. This show didn’t do that well it seems. According to TVLine, this episode managed to draw 6.3 million people and earned a 1.4 in the demo, whatever that means. Either way you look at it, this isn’t good. It’s one, quite low, and two, probably going to drop by at least two or three million next week. It could do the impossible and jump up a bit, but once first time viewers saw how bad this was, they’re not likely to return. I know I won’t. If this lasts past a few weeks, then it won’t last past a first season.

Focusing on the episode itself, I must say that it was sufficiently exhausting. It also, was not, as of yet, even remotely juicy enough or soapy in the primetime soap opera way it was meant to be. “Desperate Housewives” and “Revenge” were each much more interesting and soapy than this one was. It only dreams of being like those two shows. It was just an episode that wanted to cram as much into it as possible. I guess the creators are truly afraid it’ll be cancelled and wanted to make it seem like they accomplished something.

In all that cramming I just found myself rolling my eyes at every ridiculous story line that tried to feed the drama. I mean seriously, how does this couple, that clearly wasn’t striving for much (they did want to open a laundromat for goodness sake, and one of them said it was to be a “grand adventure of a lifetime”), get into all this so quickly. I think it was Rittenhouse’s character that noted that it had been a week since they got stuck in that town, or chose it to begin with, I’m not clear on that. Whatever it was, they hadn’t been in that town very long, and yet, they manage to go from one situation to the next quite quickly. All at the same time, it’s constantly drilled into you that this town allows for people to have great opportunities and fortune come their way, or not. Well, as “luck” would have it, fortune favored the idiotic choice maker. To keep this paragraph from getting too much longer, I’ll just say that by the end of the episode, we see Crawford and Rittenhouse go from having nothing to being millionaires. News of a deal just happens to be overheard and Crawford works hard to intervene. He does, and makes a very good deal with Johnson’s Hap Briggs. To make things stranger, they fulfill a promise to two strangers, and write a 50,000 dollar check, get a new place to live, and pay off some sort of interest debt. I get the deal made them millionaire’s, but didn’t they just blow through most of their newly received fortune? Anyway, throw in that Rittenhouse is pregnant and you have a packed episode. Did I mention it was exhausting? And I still have no idea how it is that Crawford, who aspired for so much, just happened to know all this about the oil industry. I think he was aiming for the wrong thing and Pate and Fishburne are just stupid. Oh, and I clearly couldn’t keep my promises. Sorry.

After that lengthy bit above, I’m not sure I have it in me to talk about these uninteresting characters. Long and the short of it, I don’t like these characters. They’re too bland and even if I wanted one to love to hate, I don’t think I’d be getting it. I think Crawford and Rittenhouse are annoying, Foster is a tiresome cliché in that he’s the whiney son who disappoints his father left and right, and Johnson and Valletta just aren’t as ruthless as they seemed in the TV spots. This is another example of where these characters, and thus the show, wants to be like either “Dallas” shows. If JR Ewing, Sue Ellen, or even grown John Ross or Pamela Rebecca Barnes were to go up against these people, sad to say, but not surprising, Johnson and company would all lose.

Just because it sounds like a good idea, doesn’t mean it should be seen through. However, in this day and age, sadly, network executives don’t really care about whether or not the series seems good in any capacity, or is basically a discount version of a much more fun and successful show from yesteryear. Yes, I will continue to hammer that point in as often as I can. Hey, just be glad I didn’t mention the other show that aired that is basically what this show is now, but again, less fun.

Series Trailer:


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