Count of Monte Cristo inspired sudser, ABC, Wednesday Nights

What’s it about? Well I’ll let protagonist and REVEEEEENGE seeker Emily Thorne (the jilted victim formerly known as Amanda Clarke) explain it to you:

“When I was a little girl, my understanding of revenge was as simple as the Sunday school proverbs it hid behind. Neat little morality slogans like “Do unto others” and “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” But two wrongs can never make a right if two wrongs can never equal each other. For the truly wronged, real satisfaction can only be found in one of two places: absolute forgiveness or mortal vindication. This is not a story about forgiveness.”

Oh, snap. And this is the truest statement you will hear in any pilot this fall. No mercy here. This show opens with the clarion call of gunshots and the death of a major character-to-be, leaving you asking the entire pilot, “Wait, so how do we get from Point A to Point B?!?”

Here’s three things we know about our major repertory players so far:.

Emily: Her real name is Amanda; her father was screwed over by his corporate partners for some unknown reason and died a lonely death in prison; and she will avenge her father’s unfair death by coldly dispatching those responsible by smoldering at the camera and sounding really intense in voiceovers. Will she forget the somewhat noble reason she came and get so lost in revenge that she ultimately becomes the villain?

It appears that she manages to corrupt straight arrow Jack Porter, which is kind of villainy. We know that he will probably be the one who pulls the trigger come Labor Day weekend; that he will do anything to keep his father’s business open; and that he has loved Amanda/Emily since they were kids… you know before the whole conspiracy went down.

Daniel Grayson is Jack’s opposite: he is rich and immoral and appears to be a major target of Emily’s. We know that: he claims to be trying to get his life back in order; that he looks and acts as much like one can look and act like Darren Criss without actually being Darren Criss; and he will, in a few months, be very dead.

And then there is Victoria Grayson, the big bad: She was once in love with Emily’s screwed over father, she was the mastermind behind the conspiracy to have him put away, and she is so not going to like it when she finds out that Emily is that man’s vengeance-seeking little brat.

In this episode, Emily begins to mess with Victoria by exposing the affair that her husband is having with her best friend. To do this Emily puts a mild poison in the man’s soup, sending him to the hospital in the hotel bathrobe. Nice move. Or as she puts it, “They say vengeance is a dish best served cold, but sometimes it’s as warm as a bowl of soup.” Zing!

On the Holiday Special Scale: 8 out of 10. If you can believe it, the pilot already is a holiday special. Actually it manages to squeeze in two holidays: Memorial Day and, in a peek into the future, Labor Day. Yeah, they’re bargain bin holidays, but this show is set in the only place on Earth where those holidays trump Christmas: the Hamptons!

Here the holiday’s serve as mere backdrops, but man do I want to see this show’s Christmas episode. It’ll probably never happen, because who stays in the Hamptons for Christmas? But goodness it would be fun. Everyone would try to tell Emily that Christmas is about forgiveness, and then she’d spike their eggnog and yell “REVEEENGE!”

What does this tell me about this show? Well, it’s going to hit one note over and over again, but if it hits it well, why complain? It’s why people still read the Count of Monte Cristo to this day. You’re like, “Alright dude, enough already,” but really you want to see it all tie together for him (and how crazy he can be about all of it – I like that Emily doesn’t really appear to be all there… mentally… it’s a promising sign for what’s to come). What have made Dumas’ classic  better? Emily Van de Camp doing the revenge-seeking! This show will probably be the most succesful out of the gate, no problem drawing in viewers or getting people to talk about it, so at least we have until the mystery of Daniel’s murder is solved to relish all its dark, soapy glory. And I love that.

On the Stupid Advertisement Scale: 9 out of 10. One of our highest scorers here. This is don’t change the channel television. There was so much opportunity for horrible exposition here. I hear horrible exposition, especially on a soap like this, and I’m gone. This show handled its complicated ackstory beautifully, showing and pretty much never telling. Even when there was some telling, it toyed with your expectations, because the new girl in town asking all the questions already knows. She’s just being coy with her fake doltishness and naiveté. So even the exposition is spiced up with nuance.

This is basically the best CW series the CW has ever done – except it’s on ABC. It’s young, sexy, campy, water-cooler friendly and just soooo juicy. And it’s good. There was no way I was missing the next soapy twist on this show.

Will I be tuning in next week: You heard me. No way I’m missing a twist. I know Emily will get her revenge, but I want to know the toll it takes on her and the delightfully evil Victoria. I want to see this pretty town burn under the mighty wrath of the cute blond girl with the perfect fake smile. I could pick up Count again, but why do that when this show is Count with girls and bad puns? Score!