TV Review: ABC's 'The River'

ABC premieres its new mockumentary-style thriller The River on Tuesday in a two-hour event beginning at 9 p.m. ET. The following are reviews from TV critics around the Web, compiled by B&C.

The River in its early hours doesn’t ask to be taken more seriously than as the long-form B-movie it is. Made with ingenuity and verve, it substitutes the half-glimpsed and suggestive for the in-your-face and explicit, and concentrates more on the buildup than the payoff, the fear more than the fright.” — Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

“[T]he found-footage format also works perfectly here because a TV show doesn’t have the budget or production time that a feature film does. The scares here have to be brief, and often barely alluded to…and the work of pilot director Jaume Collet-Serra and those who follow very effectively exploits what the cameras do and don’t capture.” — Alan Sepinwall,HitFix

“There’s an occasional echo of Lost in all this, but the mystery doesn’t seem to have that broad a scope, which in theory could be good. If the central mystery is more finite and manageable - what happened to Dr. Cole? - then perhaps the larger story won’t become overwhelming.” — David Hinckley, New York Daily News

The River is a highly unrealistic story shot in hyperrealistic style, which is the source of its strengths and some problems. Unlike other TV mockumentaries (The Office, Modern Family), the cameras and crew are central to the story. It delves into the history and motives of abrasive producer Clark (Paul Blackthorne) and has dry fun with the omnipresence of the unblinking eye.” — James Poniewozik, TIME

“If you like B-movie horror with a mostly competent cast, you could do worse than this show. The psychological and philosophical underpinnings of the show are thin at best, but some effectively freaky things happen, and if you’re in the mood for a short-term commitment, The River’s two-month run isn’t all that long.” — Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post