Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: The show was created by Josh Pate (Legends) and newcomer Rodes Fishburne. They executive produce with star Don Johnson as well as Tony Krantz (Dracula) and Drew Comins. Pate directed the pilot.
The Cast & How You Know Them: Blood & Oil stars Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl), Rebecca Rittenhouse (Red Band Society), Delroy Lindo (The Chicago Code), Amber Valletta (Revenge), Scott Michael Foster (Chasing Life), and India de Beaufort (Jane by Design).
The Premise: A young ambitious couple in search of a new life move to North Dakota during the boom following a huge oil discovery, and become enmeshed with a shady, ruthless tycoon and his family.
What Works: I loved that this pilot took a traditionally masculine environment and immediately set up three female characters who were very capable and generally outshone their male counterparts; I’m a bit nervous about where they’ll take these characters, but we’ll see. There are some skilled actors in the cast, and they’ve somehow made Chace Crawford more likeable than he ever was on Gossip Girl. The hastily thrown together boom town seemed well-rendered (at least in a fictional sense; I doubt anything here is particularly accurate, and I’m willing to let that go on a soap), and I’m interested to see more of that, though unfortunately it seems like that community won’t be much of a focus.
What Doesn’t: Most of this pilot didn’t work for me, honestly. The plotting was uneven and sometimes incoherent — I spent a lot of time asking the characters “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT???” — and while the writing pulled off a few good lines, most of it was weak. There was a large dose of racism in the portrayal of the conflict between the oil people and the Native Americans. The show has had some writer and showrunner changes, which probably didn’t help the pilot but might improve the show going forward, so I’ll give it a few more weeks.
Our Favorite Line: “The next time I’m proud of you, Wick, it’ll be the first.”
You Might Like This if you like primetime soaps; the obvious comparison is Dallas, though there’s some similarity to Vegas and Revenge as well.
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)