Pilot Review: Betrayal (★)

Betrayal ABC Season 1 PosterOne of the most highly anticipated pilots on ABC includes ‘Betrayal‘, featuring Hannah Ware as Sara Hayward, Chris Johnson as Drew Hayward, and Stuart Townsend as the handsome and seductive Jack McAllister. More featured cast members include Henry Thomas, Wendy Moniz, Elizabeth McLaughlin, Braden Lemasters, and James Cromwell. The anticipation for the pilot was quite high as it debuted on Sunday, September 29th, 2013. Written by David Zabel (‘ER‘, ‘Detroit 1-8-7‘), and directed by 2012 DGA Award winner Patty Jenkins (‘The Killing: Pilot‘), this show is, unfortunately, not an original, but based on a Dutch series called ‘Overspel‘ (VARA), a thriller that started in 2011 that was signed for another 10 episodes for 2014. What sort of new twist or daring story will this show tell, seemed to be the question on the edge of every critic’s mind, and thus the lead into the viewing of the pilot.

The confusing beginning sequence raises questions and curiosities that pulls viewers, especially women, into the next, which leads into the story, which is, no surprise, about a floundering Sara in a bland marriage and life, though there doesn’t seem to be any love lost between Sara and Drew. Upon meeting Jack, there is a fiery connection with Jack, the opponent of her husband, Drew, a determined lawyer fighting to win a big case. With a feel like ‘Twilight‘ for adults, the story starts slow and then becomes overkill, every piece of dialogue too on the nose of what’s going on, nothing left to the workings of piecing together what’s supposed to be the puzzle. Long shots of watching each other, romantically sappy scenarios and chance meetings that drives women crazy. The awkward attraction that pushes into the sappy exposition, which is a key component to addicting women to the show, and it goes with the ways established in the circumstances of Sara’s life, past, and questionable future. Sara faces her decisions, runs away and hesitates a few times, before giving in and somewhat complicating her cookie-cutter life.

betrayal_redposterA loose mix of ‘Desperate Housewives‘ meets ‘Law & Order‘ mixed with beautiful people like those in ‘The Vampire Diaries‘ but take out all of the interesting or supernatural lives of the characters, and there you have it; two unhappy people who meet, comfort each other, and cheat on their spouses, thus the title of the show, ‘Betrayal‘. However, after the initial act, there isn’t any anticipation left to the imagination, but more like the curiosity of kittens who’d rather take naps than watch the rest of the story unfold. There is no fantastical circumstance or great mystery in the characters and everything appears very mid-America trying to replicate a big city life of Chicago.

Hannah Ware isn’t strong enough for the role of Sara, too bland and expressionless, the moments she ought to have been thinking about Jack, the camera was too far to convey the desire. What bothered me while watching was that there was no real conflict in either Sara nor Jack’s marriages. On the surface, they were fine; no underlying conflict perturbed the waters of the sane but separate worlds. Aside from the terrible dialogue and lack of chemistry between the two actors,  the show didn’t live up to the hype. And how could Drew not notice Sara’s face at the end, when obviously staring right at her as she inquired about Jack, nor did he hear the breaking of the wine bottle. How likely was that?

With overly dramatic music, shots that linger too long and others that don’t develop the relationships as well, this show is a big disappointment from the prior comparisons to ‘Scandal‘ and ‘Revenge‘, that has gripped audiences all over the country. Most television dramas create tempting scenarios viewers want to imagine themselves into, but the lack of control in the frazzled environment of this show is neither wild nor provocative, just oddly placed together.

Twitter blew up as the show started on the East Coast. Women found themselves rooting for the cheaters while questioning their morality. The recent slew of shows that brought about the complicated lives of people with power has caused writers in television to become lazy in their story-making. For cheating to be rooted for because a marriage isn’t going so well also challenges the principles of society and the world view. But, who is to say that the end of this road doesn’t lead to quiet divorces and a marriage, right? One thing for sure is the silence of the male voices that once supported the show before its airing is quite telling. If ABC can’t win the male viewership, then it might as well drop ‘Betrayal‘ for something that will.

The reviews are out and most echo the other about the ‘not worth a second glance’ new series that I found lacked color and thrill in more than just one dimension. But what do you think?