‘Blood & Oil’: Should You Watch it?

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Blood and Oil’ Boss on the Don Johnson Series’ “Love Triangles That Will Explode”.

Don Johnson plays a ruthless oil tycoon on Blood & Oil, ABC’s North Dakota-set boomtown drama. SERIES: “Blood & Oil,” which premieres Sunday on ABC, is created by Josh Pate, a co-executive producer of TNT’s “Legends,” and Rodes Fishburne, a writer with no prior television experience.Priyanka Chopra stars as an FBI recruit who must figure out which of her fellow students (including Jake McLaughlin, left) engineered a terrorist attack in New York City in ABC’s new thriller “Quantico.” (ABC) “Quantico” (ABC, 10 p.m.) is so taut and terrifically calibrated that it may out-Shonda ABC treasure Shonda Rhimes, the acknowledged master of sexy, twisty, expertly-paced dramas.Billy (Chace Crawford, “Gossip Girl”) and Cody (Rebecca Rittenhouse, “Red Band Society”) are our dreamers, pulling up from a small town in Florida to make their fortune in the oil boom town of Rock Springs, N.D.The series focuses on working-class married couple Billy (Chace Crawford) and Cody LeFever (Rebecca Rittenhouse), who move to North Dakota following a major oil discovery.

For our Fall TV Preview mega-issue, we spoke to the former Miami Vice and Nash Bridges star, 65, about his return to the small screen and what being around billionaires is really like. They plan to get rich by opening three laundromats and have tapped all their tender-hearted relations for the money to buy several washing machines and dryers.

Each steps out with a busy pilot that covers a lot of ground in its commercial-pocked hour and ends promising a somewhat different show than first expected. Showrunner Jon Feldman tells The Hollywood Reporter about the series’ many secrets, his feelings about frequent comparisons to Dallas and how the show distinguishes itself from ABC’s other current sudsy drama series.

Each has the creamy finish I associate with the network and nods toward 20th century genre films, more than to the real worlds they nominally portray. And Chace Crawford is Billy, the scrappy speculator who earns Hap’s respect but whose marriage to the beautiful Cody (Rebecca Rittenhouse) may not survive his demands. Borrowing the dual narrative structure from Rhimes’ “How To Get Away With Murder” (and, to be fair, the first season of HBO’s “True Detective” and Showtime’s “The Affair”), “Quantico” shifts between the present, with Alex on the run from authorities, and her memories of training with her fellow recruits.

I think the ABC genre that they’ve done so well involves fun characters involved in compelling storylines and a big cast of really wonderful actors, and I think we do that. I think Ghandi heard a bell, I think Mandela heard a bell — I’m not so sure that Hap possesses any of their virtues, but when people hear that bell, it is as if nothing is going to alter their course. CRITICS SAY: “If ‘Blood & Oil’ tries merely to work Shakespearian family dynamics, it may have a hard time,” Neil Genzlinger wrote in The Times. “There’s another show already doing that, better and more sexily, called ‘Empire.’ ” Elsewhere: Critics said that the series doesn’t drill very deep and that it fails to tap the mother lode. Desolate and nearly destitute, the two end up in what looks like a tent city not so different from a major setting of HBO’s “Deadwood,” which followed a gold rush boom in South Dakota about 150 years earlier.

After a brief opening scene of mass destruction (New York City, drubbed again), “Quantico” flashes back nine months to follow its young and good-looking cast as they head toward their new temporary home as trainee agents of the FBI. The mogul (pictured) rose to amazing heights in the music business and helped define an era of hip-hop, but he’s also had numerous run-ins with the law, has allegedly engaged in questionable practices, and is currently in jail pending trial on murder, attempted-murder, and hit-and-run charges. But others, particularly Alex, a half-white, half-Indian go-getter with a racy side, and Eric, a Mormon with a skeleton in his closet, feel new. (There’s nothing new to be said about the war on terror here, though, and some may find the casualness with which “Quantico” treats a devastating terrorist attack a bit off-putting.) Pacing is a problem for most pilots — so many characters to introduce, meaningful stakes to establish — but “Quantico,” from “Gossip Girl” producer Joshua Safran, does this effortlessly, with at least one deadly effective twist you won’t see coming. In their various complexions and complexes and social classes, they might, with a nip here and a tuck there, just as easily populate a high school comedy or a medical drama — indeed, if you come in a minute late, you might assume that you’re watching something like “Grey’s Anatomy” with guns.

There is the upper-crust blond (Johanna Braddy, recently excellent on “UnREAL”); the provocative brunet (Priyanka Chopra); the one who would have been the dangerous one in a boy band (Jake McLaughlin); the privileged jerk (Graham Rogers); the exotic outsider (Yasmine Al Massri); and the nerd, doing double duty as the gay one (Tate Ellington). Family Guy (9 p.m., Fox) – Season 14 opens with the guys going to an abandoned asylum in search of inspiration for a horror movie, and accidentally killing someone. Thanks to some insider trading, though, they end up with a parcel of land that is very desirable to oil tycoon Hap Briggs (Don Johnson), who oversees his fortune with his ambitious wife Carla (Amber Valletta, giving her best Robin Wright in House of Cards). Adult supervision, such as it is, comes in the form of administrator Aunjanue Ellis, the series’ heavy hitter (“The Help,” “Get On Up”), and instructor Josh Hopkins (“Cougar Town”), who have a past complicating their present.

He’s at war with his own son Wick (Scott Michael Foster, “Chasing Life”), a spoiled jerk who’d rather take some criminal shortcuts to earn his fortune. I think we’ll start in the premiere by realizing that people right under your roof or right under your nose may have secrets that they’re keeping from you. None is what they seem, nor what they seem to seem. (That is, some surprisingly might turn out to be only what they seem.) They have secrets and scars and histories.

The show occasionally unearths a nugget of truth about the boom-and-bust economy of the Bakken — “Around here, you either got two jobs or two houses” — but make no mistake: This show will run on poisonous rivalries, hidden agendas, and unbridled ambitions. Johnson, who also serves as one of the show’s executive producers, is just as commanding onscreen as ever, and Crawford is good as a guy who gambles big — perhaps too big — to get what he wants. It becomes a story of an older man who has everything and a younger man who wants what that man has, and sometimes the worst that can happen is getting what you want. Yes, it is, and considering that both Dallas and Dynasty, two of the greatest primetime soaps in television history, were about oil families, it seems like this is a natural fit. Amber Valletta as Hap’s wife Carla will remind viewers of Robin Wright’s icy first lady in Netflix’s “House of Cards.” She’s as much — if not more — a schemer.

It’s very important that on a show like this, where you do have big themes and melodrama and high stakes, that we really tell it in a relatable way, so we understand why the characters go through these moves, we understand why the characters are involved in these stories. If hardly a moment feels plausible, the show has energy to spare and so many balls in the air by the end of the pilot that it’s hard not to want to see where they will come down. Don puts the show first, and that’s an incredibly rewarding and incredibly inspiring thing to be a part of, and it sets a great example for everybody. (Laughs) It’s never a bad thing to be compared with an iconic show, and even though I think we’re substantially different from that show, it’s never a bad thing to be compared with an icon. It just wants to get to the money, personified by oil baron Don Johnson and his younger baroness Amber Valletta; there is also Johnson’s troublesome son (Scott Michael Foster), who in the hoary way of these things will find himself challenged by clever surrogate son Chace Crawford, who reminds Johnson of himself as a young man — he says it, straight out. Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse play newlyweds setting out on the “grand adventure of a lifetime” to open some laundromats in Rock Springs; this plan, which seems to consist entirely of showing up in town with a truckload of washing machines, runs literally off the road, to their quickly arriving eventual favor.

The season is headed towards lots of cards turning, lots of reveals, secrets, unexpected pairings, love triangles that will explode, business partnerships that will provide stakes. It has the aggressively prettified look, rather, of an ad for beer or a new Ford truck, and you sense that you are being sold something, rather than told a story, let alone the truth. I know it actually is, but the way it’s depicted in the show, the nightlife looks more like Mardi Gras with caribou or a sanitized version of Deadwood. ABC actually bought this pilot back in 2013 and it’s been developed in a few iterations since then, featuring two different show runners, a whole bunch of recasting, and more names than Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan. Of course there’s room for improvement, but once HBO and the cable channels get into full swing on Sunday nights later this fall, it’s probably going to be too late for Blood and Oil, a show too traditional and bland to stand out in this cluttered TV landscape.

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