You’ll like it if you already like: Extant, Person of Interest, Minority Report, Falling Water…
Likely timeslot: Monday at 10.
Reverie was one of those rare spec pilots that garnered interest from multiple networks and ultimately landed at NBC. Same thing happened with Mickey Fisher’s first project, Extant, that he wrote when he was an unknown writer, which sparked a bidding war before landing at CBS with a straight-to-series order with Halle Berry signing on to star. This is the proof miracles can happen… twice! I remember how much I loved Extant on paper and how much the show was a disappointment overall (and a snoozefest most of the time). So forgive me if I’m being cautious with this one. I can see why people loved it -and I liked it- but I can’t help being pessimistic for its future if it’s picked-up to series. Mainly because NBC (and other networks for instance) doesn’t have a good track-record with sci-fi and fantasy recently. Revolution, Timeless and Emerald City weren’t exactly earth-shattering.
In the meantime, Sarah Shahi was one of the most sought-after actresses of this pilot season and she ultimately chose Reverie. Which is not that surprising. She’s staying in her comfort zone. She apparently loves procedural shows -or she loves shows that can potentially air for multiple years, can’t blame her- and she’s best known for Person Of Interest, which was already a grounded thriller drama with sci-fi elements. Again, I get it. She loved the script, bla bla bla. And her character can be both badass and emotional. Mara is smart, she can kick ass if needed and of course she’s tortured because of a terrible thing that happened to her family in the past, a thing that she feels responsible for. It’s certainly appealing for an actress. But I feel like she may be doing a mistake (again). But not as huge as Nancy Drew for CBS last year, rest assured…
The concept of Reverie is cool -a procedural without a crime !- but narrow. Once Mara will have rescued ten or twelve people from their dreams, we’re gonna get bored. Inevitably. Even if the settings change in every dream (it’s a hotel in the pilot), as well as the characters involved and their personal story we’re told (a romantic one this time). So narrow I don’t see how it could last for long, except if they turn it into a more serialized show at some point. Like Person of Interest did in fact. There’s the potential to do so, especially with the puzzling creator of the virtual reality program and the mysterious private company behind. But will they be able to get there?
Reverie is exactly the type of show that is stuck between two ambitions: being network-y, knowing exactly what it means in terms of pace and structure; and being more than that, looking towards what they’re doing on cable. But in the end, it’s too much for procedural lovers -and well, there’s no crime in there you know- and not enough for HBO, Showtime or Netflix users. The premice could sound like a Black Mirror episode (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fisher was partly inspired by it actually) but turned into a basic procedural. Raising the standart of the procedural shows is a beautiful ambition to have and a brave thing to do. But it rarely pays off sadly.
Reverie is a modern and ambitious sci-fi thriller series, the kind that rarely works on network television, that also happens to be a procedural, which is a shame. It could easily land on Minority Report territory, unless it miraculously finds an audience as Person of Interest did. It’s a fine vehicle for Sarah Shahi, but it probably belongs to SyFy, not NBC. Except it would be too pricey. In another world or in a virtual reality, it would be a success.