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Mid-Season Preview: ABC’s The River 

Warning: Spoilers Discussed

Whether or not you’ve seen any (or all) of the Paranormal Activity films, you’re going to like this (slightly) new take on the creepy thriller/mystery. The River is set deep in the Amazon, a film crew follows Lincoln and Tess Cole as they search for Bruce Greenwood‘s Emmet Cole, who has been declared legally dead. No one’s been able to find his body and Tess won’t give up on him. Told partly through flashbacks of a better, happier time but mostly through the ominous lens of the present, we start to piece together the lives of everyone looking into the disappearance of Cole and his crew. There’s a lot this search party doesn’t know about the Amazon and there’s no guarantee everyone will make it out alive.

Photo Credit: ABC

TV Goodness attended a screening of the first two episodes and below is some intel we gleaned during the Q&A with Oren Peli. The pilot did its job of giving us necessary backstory and pretty good tension, but it’s the second episode that will scare you. It was such a treat to see it in the theater, but the thrills and chills will have the same impact on the small screen. Here’s some mostly behind-the-scenes info, as well as what you have to look forward to the rest of the season:

  • Just because someone dies on the show doesn’t mean we won’t see them again.
  • We will see Bruce Greenwood on the screen in some way every week.
  • Bruce Greenwood was pretty much their only choice for Emmet Cole. They had ongoing talks with him for a long time and if he hadn’t said yes when he did they wouldn’t have been able to make the show.
  • They did a lot of research on the Amazon. A lot of the stories of the week will focus on folklore or stories they discovered while doing research. A lot of the Amazon is unexplored. People don’t realize it’s as big as the continental US.
  • ABC is completely behind the kind of scares the producers of the show are after. The network didn’t put restrictions on them. Oren’s not interested in torture porn; he likes building the anticipation and scaring or creeping audiences out that way.
  • ABC standards and practices was giving them some trouble but they discovered as long as they beeped the curse words well enough they could get away with saying anything.
  • Steven Spielberg looked at every script and gave notes. He was that involved.
  • On choosing the location: They had to film the pilot in Puerto Rico because things came together so fast. When they realized they’d be filming during hurricane season, they moved the show to Hawaii.
  • The budget for the pilot was bigger than any movie Oren’s ever worked on.
  • The first season is 8 episodes.
  • Oren was very hush hush on any spoilers. He wouldn’t give too much away, and we’ve got to admire him for that.
  • Filming one episode takes 11 – 12 days, which is long for most TV shows. More cameras means more angles to choose from, but editing takes a while.
  • A ghost moment from the set: Thomas Kretschmann fell down some stairs and broke his ankle. He said he was pushed but there was no one behind him.

The River’s 2-hour premiere event airs Tuesday, February 7th at 9/8c on ABC.

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