“Kingmakers” (ABC) pilot preview: “Revenge” 2.0, for real!


Written & produced by Sallie Patrick (Revenge, Dirty Sexy Money, Life Unexpected). Co-produced by Jay Beattie & Dan Dworkin (Revenge, Criminal Minds, Cold Case). Directed by James Strong (Broadchurch, Gracepoint, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey). For ABC & ABC Studios. 57 pages.

Description: Eli, a young man whose sister is found dead during her freshman year at an elite Ivy League university adopts a new identity -Jacob- to infiltrate the school and its century-old secret society called Skull & Key, consisting of privileged students, ambitious faculty, and high-profile alums – in order to investigate her death… 

With Gus Halper, Adrian Pasdar (Profit, Heroes, Amy, Agents of SHIELD), Kristin Bauer Van Straten (True Blood, Once Upon a Time), Parminder Nagra (ER, The Blacklist Alcatraz), Colm Feore (The Borgias, Revolution, Thor), Tracey Fairaway, Nick Eversman (Missing), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries, Cane, The Riches), Megan West (How to Get Away With Murder), Khary Payton

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This is not a story of forgiveness…” Remember these lines? They’re iconic. They’re from Revenge‘s pilot. They are used the exact same way in Kingmakers‘ pilot. And you know why? Because Kingmakers is basically Revenge 2.0. It’s what Revenge‘s season 2 should have been if ABC didn’t decide to pursue Emily’s quest throughout the whole show instead of sticking to the plan and having a new revenge every season like the creator intended to in the first place (before being “let go”, as they say). Now, Revenge has largely outstayed its welcome, digging deeper and deeper its grave with stupid and/or overly complicated storylines and dull characters. ABC finally decided to pull the plug. In fact, they asked the writers to wrap up the damn thing. Which is the same even if the show isn’t officially canceled yet. So, tireless fans, don’t expect a 5th season, even shortened. The best hope you can have now is Kingmakers going to series. ABC could even change the title to… Revenge: Kingmakers. But I really don’t think they should do that. There should be no such thing as a Revenge franchise. Too little too late!

That being said, the ties with Revenge are more than obvious in the script: they are totally assumed! “Revenge” is the word that ends the first act (bold and underlined!) and then even ends the whole pilot! Sallie Patrick, the creator (and producer on Revenge), writes at the beginning: “We’re not in the Hamptons anymore“. She built up the show around the same structure -a quote to start, then the voiceover from the hero telling his tale, a flashforward, later on he even circles the head of his first target on a photograph, Emily style…), except the setting has changed and the characters are not the same. Well, they don’t have the same names and they’re not played by the same actors, but they’re pretty much the same actually. The Vandeermeers are like the Graysons: a rich power couple who toy with everybody including their own children. They have affairs, they kind of love/hate each other, and they’re linked to the death of the hero’s sister. We don’t know yet how. I’m pretty sure Colm Feore and Kristin Bauer will be a delight to watch doing that. Adrian Pasdar, as a Senator (This man will never play a “normal” guy!), will be great too. Our hero, Jacob/Eli is like Emily/Amanda: dark, determined, consumed with hate, but pretty and cheerful on the outside. He’s a smart young man gone bad. I could compare every Kingmaker‘s character to its Revenge counterpart but I guess you get the idea.

You probably understood that I’m not a big Revenge fan. In fact, I liked the pilot. I was full of hope. I appreciated the first season, even if I had a lot of doubts regarding the future of the show. And then I hated it until I stopped watching after the season 3 finale. If I totally forget the existence of Revenge, then I feel like Kingmakers‘ pilot is a good one. It may even be better than Revenge‘s. Gosh, as you can see I can’t forget Revenge. The thing is the flashforward is a little bit more interesting and doesn’t make the same mistake as Revenge did: there is no doubt about the identity of the person who is dying. And there’s no doubt he’s dead either. That’s when Kingmakers plays the How to Get Away With Murder‘s card: who killed him with an arrow, in front of everyone? And is it the same person who killed Julia (the sister)? Towards the end, there’s an exciting scene about the secret society Skull and key. Boo, the mysterious one. It’s the members all reunited in the tomb, wearing black cloaks in the dark, so we can’t see their faces. You get the chills instantly. But it’s easy and not that original, granted. Remember the movie The Skulls? Still, it works and you want to know more. I fell in the trap again, but this time I won’t stay longer than one season I promise, unless it is really good!

Kingmakers is ABC wanting to recreate the magic they once had with Revenge. It’s not a spin-off, it’s not officially a reboot. It’s the same show but different. You know you’ve seen it before but you don’t really care as long as they keep it entertaining and fresh somehow. Let’s call it a spiritual spin-off! As much as I hate what I’m about to say, I’ll say it: Kingmakers might become a good show so we should not count it out of the race yet. But ABC surely has better & fresher shows in the oven…


  1. Shunta says:

    I personally loved revenge yes after mid third season it got weak but I was addicted i wish Emily could have married Adian i hope Kingmakers keeps me glued as much as Revenge did or a least is entertaining I’m hopeful I’ll be watching.

  2. tearica says:

    Please don’t hate on revenge….every time you said that in this shitty blog they are getting paid for it dueces✌

  3. Jerri says:

    I like the cast of Kingmakers so I’ve been following it to see if it gets picked-up. I also enjoyed Revenge’s first season, a lot, like you. So I hope this show does get picked up, but I’m curious to hear what pilots you thought were “better and fresher” so I can look up more about them.

  4. Lucas says:

    Tu m’en veux pas si je commente en français ? ^^
    Je trouve que c’est bête de s’être tapé les “très moyennes” saisons 2 et 3 de Revenge et de ne pas regarder l’ultime saison 4, bien meilleure et qui conclut pour le moment très bien la série. Les scénaristes se sont lâchés sur les derniers épisodes comme ils savent que c’est la fin. Je ne regrette pas d’avoir continué après certains épisodes très laborieux de la saison 3.
    Il est clair que Kingmakers va remplacer Revenge dans la grille d’ABC mais ce sera sans moi. Malgré ses défauts Revenge restera pour moi un soap culte et je vois difficilement comment ce reboot pourrait être meilleur, ou disons plutôt plus addictif, plus jouissif. Surtout qu’il n’y a pas d’Emily VanCamp ni de Madeleine Stowe dans le cast donc ça commence déjà mal.

    • Lulla says:

      I know what happens… I know all about the last cliffhanger. No character gave me a reason to stay (not even Emily or Victoria) so I have no regrets!

  5. tash says:

    Not interested in this at all. It reminds me of Flash Forward and GCB : abc didn’t want to let Lost and Desperate Housewives go but the audience sure had. And let’s be honest, Revenge is no Lost or Desperate Housewives so I’m not sure what abc is trying to do with Kingmakers. I guess (desperately hope actually) that abc wants to make a mini series like Secrets and Lies but in that case, I’d rather see L.A. Crime ordered over Kingmakers.

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