Is it possible to come out morally unscathed when money and power were available? What would have to be sacrificed in order to strike it rich? Could you handle any of the consequences that come your way? That’s part of the premise behind ABC’s new show “Blood & Oil,” which followed one young man’s quest to strike it rich and the lengths he will go to get it all, while another man struggles to keep his empire intact. Will both men get what they want or die trying?
“Blood & Oil” followed Billy (Chace Crawford) and his wife Cody LeFever (Rebecca Rittenhouse) as they drive to Rock Springs, North Dakota to strike it rich with the booming oil industry. Initially, their plan was to open up their own laundromat, which ended up going up in smoke when the couple ended up in a bad car accident that destroyed their plan immediately. They were forced to find a place to stay in the town’s version of a camp ground with plenty of other wealth seekers. The couple was forced to take whatever jobs that came their way. Cody ended up working at a local pharmacy, while Billy got a job pushing mud on one of the spots that Briggs Oil was drilling on. Unfortunately, Billy’s first day coincided with billionaire Hap Briggs (Don Johnson) forcing his wayward son Wick (Scott Michael Foster) into working at the site as well. Wick makes a mistake that cost Billy his job and losing any claim to Hap’s vast fortune. Wick vowed revenge against his father, which led him plotting to take what was his; even if Hap was unwilling to share any of his hard earned success with his now estranged son. Sadly, Wick’s plan ended up being ill-timed and even worse planned when he came face-to-face with his father with a gun in his hand. Hap seemed eager to dare Wick to shoot his father, but Wick might not be too willing to oblige him. While Hap was struggling to maintain his power, he had his lovely and just devious wife Carla (Amber Valletta) to help him plot and scheme to keep Briggs Oil on top. They plot and scheme to find a oil site that would provide them even greater wealth, but Billy managed to stumble onto the same information and was able to secure a piece as well. Billy’s plan was a gamble that forced him to borrow a lot of money and that could put him in even greater debt than he already was. Cody was starting to doubt her husband’s plan, especially when she recently found out that she was pregnant. Luckily, Billy’s risky move managed to pay off and he was able to make a deal with Briggs, but his deal could either make him rich or morally bankrupt. Are Billy and Cody going to regret their decision or just be thankful when it starts to pay off?
In terms of questions, the show posed a fair number and obviously answered very few to keep viewers interested. The premiere’s slow burn pace indicated the promise of things to come, but it also left viewers wondering whether the show was going to start bucking a few of the good versus evil cliches between the wealthy and the working class. Sure, it was nice to get a glimpse of both worlds to see how both sides functioned in Rock Springs, but it would be even more interesting to see the lines get blurred a little and have everyone functioning in the grey area where a fair number of people operate in on a daily basis. The premiere’s strength seemed to work best when both worlds started to collide as Hap and Billy began sharing scenes together. It was nice to for viewers to see Crawford’s naive Billy try to outfox Johnson’s ruthless Hap who probably could destroy Billy before he finished his breakfast. Let’s hope that viewers will get to see more of Billy’s dark side to see how he measures up to Hap, because it would be a rather disappointingly short-lived partnership for the characters and for everyone watching. The show should also develop the female leads as well a little more to allow Valletta and Rittenhouse to be more than pretty accessories for their on-screen husbands. Both actresses seemed to have the ability to be just as conniving on-screen as their costars, but it’s too early to tell which direction the show will take with both Carla and Cody’s characters. Only time will tell. As for overall plot and character development, the show needs to find a way to drive stories while viewers get a chance to become familiar with the characters and not any plot stereotypes. Johnson’s Hap and Valletta’s Carla seemed to be leading the pack in terms of character development. They appeared to be having a grand time in the premiere as they plotted against anyone in their path to secure a new plot of land. Hopefully, their on-screen partnership continues for the time being as they seemed to be the driving force of the show so far.
As for breakout performances, Johnson, Valletta and Rittenhouse seemed to be leading the pack based on the series premiere alone. Johnson’s Hap proved to be the wily character that he should be with a devil may care attitude that proved helpful and hurtful at times. He proved Hap with his usual trademark television charm that allowed viewers to both feel at ease and skeptical as to what the character was going to do next. Sure, the show has to overcome a few too many familiar plot devices, but Johnson seemed to be having a blast no matter what. He had a decent rapport with Valletta that could prove useful as the show went on, but he has a more interesting rapport with Crawford’s Billy that gave both characters some hidden depth. Valletta, on the other hand, had the challenging task of being both the femme fatale and partner to Johnson’s Hap. She proved that she sharpened her claws based on her tenure on “Revenge,” but viewers should learn a little more of the character’s background before fully investing in the devious Carla. Ultimately, the premiere’s biggest surprise was Rittenhouse’s Cody, which could have been a one note character that always complained to her husband about doing the right thing. There was one scene where Billy and Cody were making the big deal with Hap and Carla that proved that Rittenhouse’s Cody could wield more power than her husband ever could. She was a lot more pragmatic than he was in the first episode, but there will likely be moments where she does complain about Billy’s choices. Hopefully, she will also get a chance to have a few moments where her hands get just as dirty as everyone else’s.
“Blood & Oil” premiered on September 27th and airs Sundays at 9:00 PM on ABC.
Verdict: The premiere showed some promising signs of power, greed and deception; but it’s too early to tell if the rest of the cast can follow Johnson’s lead as the resident villain.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)