So I stumbled upon this by chance. Not having heard of it. One might wonder why I suppose. Due to a televisual desert approaching. Not huge on this instalments thing. (i.e. The Returned remake & Between) Yes-I’m thinking it might be all cool and retro and everything. But isn’t that TV?
So The River was pointed out to me on screen: Due to your interest in Bloodline. So I gave it a go. In this case I could have watched two episodes in a row. However due to the fairly freaky first episode I thought I would take it slow. Have time to digest the drama. So to speak.
OK I was recovering from the horrors therein. Now looking back- it all seems quite daft. The River could almost be a spoof. But it’s not. That’s the trouble.
The River is odd and unusual as a drama. Some might say it’s a bit crazy. Kray kray. As some say. I would say yey-The river is a little kray kray. But it works. so far. Plus it is suspenseful and unpredictable as a drama.
So we are introduced in a kitsch yet sweet advert for his explorer show to the Doctor. (Phd.) He travels the world with his cute and beautiful family and fearless wife. Searching for new and wonderful flora and fauna, animal and insects too. Not forgetting the snakes. All over the world. Well from what I can see-mostly in the Tropics.
The Advert for the explorer show looks dated we realise because it is. As are the home video movies of his family. Who are all grown up now. We are looking at the Doctors enamoured and jovial utterings on screen because he has gone missing.
So the early film tells his story. A story which is continued-filmically on screen: by a reality show camera crew. Who are following the Doctor’s wife as she searches for her missing husband. In the Amazon.
Before the Doctor’s wife sets out we see a memorial service where the Doctor is declared dead. But his wife has picked up a signal from the Doctor’s old homing beacon. From his boat Magus. He must be alive!
So the Doctor’s wife, his cynical Doctor son and his equally adventurous daughter: all set off in dinghies down the Amazon. Accompanied by the reality TV programme crew. What could possibly go wrong? Well quite a lot as it happens. So far.
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. And that was just episode one.
Let’s just say that there are some rather tumultuous happenings in this episode. Which is like Apocalypse Now-or like someone did a spoof of Apocalypse Now but with no soldiers.
Well that Not Apocalypse Now (let’s call it) now-oops-meets Anaconda mixed with The Amazon Queen. Not that I have seen the film Anaconda but I get the gist of it. That 1970’s-1990’s schlock horror. And then some.
(I haven’t seen The Amazon Queen either but I know that Clark Gable and Katherine Hepburn go down the Amazon together)
Not quite sure of The River’s connection to Bloodline yet. Netflix knows best I guess. Other than Bloodline had a river too. Or bayous. Plus Bloodline had a whole heaped up helping of horror.
There are some interesting and excellent characters and actors in The River. The producer of the reality show, the Cockney Cameraman and the skinny and increasingly gaunt looking son of the famous Naturalist are all good examples. Of actors raising the bar of the drama: from mediocre to watch-able.
Let’s not forget the S.A.S style security man who accompanies the reality show crew. Wherever there is any trouble, said security guy avails himself of some truly spectacular fire-power. From his cabin. From not just a slim solo suitcase but a gigantic super-size suitcase of hardware.
I particularly enjoyed the scene where the security guy furiously fires at the sky from the deck whilst shouting like he was an Arnold Schwarzenegger character on acid.
Then there is the Naturalist himself: a winsome, other worldly, child-like figure. Who speaks in wonderment at us through film of his cherished discoveries. And the world around him. The natural world that is. “There is magic out there!”is his catch-phrase and belief. One which his son cynically rejects. Until the end of this episode.
So after some fairly freaky shenanigans on board involving a name I dare not describe or write down just in case, an old video tape (a room) and a giant pod thing: the small team of searchers emerge out onto the Amazon. Down the river. Just a river it seems. With green swamps all around, port and starboard. They are steady as she goes.
The camera pans slowly upwards into the sky. We can see what lies ahead of the crew. The river can be seen to be circuitous. With innumerable loops, double-backs, small islands. Then the river continues forward. Just in the same formation. As far as the eye can see. The river just goes on and on and on. The Amazon.
Best dialogue from The River:
The fearless wife:
“Say once for yes-two for no!” (you have to be there)
The Naturalist/ Doctor: (on tape)
“The further down (the river) you go..the more the physics changes..”
The producer of the reality show is ( I believe) a British actor known for playing irascible Irishmen.