Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Betrayal’

[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]

Show:“Betrayal” (ABC)
Airs:Sundays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch:“It’s like a upper-crust soap opera only without any sense of fun. Think ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ only leaden. Oh and you’ve never seen longer close-ups of Stuart Townsend’s blurred, bare butt than you’ll get here. If that’s a selling point.”
Quick Response: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: “Betrayal” probably won’t be the first show cancelled this year, but it’s the show with the least chance of success. I don’t know what made ABC buy this pitch or what made them pick up this pilot. And nothing is going to make people watch. Structure-challenged scribe David Zabel has two new shows at ABC, both of which start with completely gratuitous, value-diminishing in medias res openings. One of those shows is actually pretty decent despite the lazy-ass structure. The other is “Betrayal.” I’ve gotta say: I’ve watched hundreds of pilots over the years and I’ve seen probably dozens that were worse than “Betrayal.” Heck, there are worse pilots this season. Several. “Betrayal” is full of pretty people. I’d watch Hannah Ware do just about anything, forgiving that she’s woefully incapable of doing an American accent. And I’d watch James Cromwell do anything because he’s Farmer Hoggett and also because when he goes with the bald-and-goatee look, he’s a total badass. And Patty Jenkins knows how to craft a superficially shiny and handsome pilot. So yeah. I’ve seen worse pilots than “Betrayal” — Yes, ABC, you’re welcome to that as a pull-quote — but I’ve probably never watched a pilot that I found less gripping or even vaguely interesting. Yes, 21 minutes of “Work It” felt like going to a tattoo parlor and getting barbed wire inked onto your eyeball, but 42 minutes of “Betrayal” felt like two years of watching very, very expensive paint dry on the wall of an apartment you could never afford to live in. Ware and Stuart Townsend play two people who have trouble connecting with other people who start an affair because they have a sterile connection brought about by their troubles connecting, or just because they’re very pretty, not that everybody isn’t very pretty. Or maybe they just bond over the difficulties of speaking excruciatingly bad dialogue with bad American accents? I don’t know. I’m not as interested in empty infidelity as some people seem to be and I don’t doubt that there’s a tiny subset of disenchanted housewife that will swoon over all of the yearning glances here. But nobody else will. Because these aren’t humans. Any of them. And then, as if the infidelity nonsense isn’t soulless enough, there’s a murder plot that’s only spiced up by “E.T.” star Henry Thomas giving a strange performance that is going to have more than a few callous sorts referencing “Tropic Thunder.” I won’t do that, but it’s an odd, odd performance that, if nothing else, Henry Thomas is fully committed to. Is the performance confusingly jarring in the context of this anodyne nightmare of expensive real estate, art galleries and corporate boardrooms? Well, yes. But it’s the only part of the entire show that made me pay attention, even if only to write, “Really?” in my notes a few times.
Desire To Watch Again: Zero. I strongly dislike “Revenge,” but I keep watching it because even though the scandals of the idle rich are meaningless to me, sometimes it has a sense of camp. This has no camp, no fun and even the in medias res tease at the beginning, which is repeated at the end, isn’t nearly enticing enough for me ever to tune in again.

Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: The CW’s ‘The Tomorrow People’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘Hostages’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Trophy Wife’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries