Alternate Title: There Will Be Blood Country For Old Night Lights in Dallas
When you’ve got a cast that includes Don Johnson, Chace Crawford, Amber Valletta and India de Beaufort, you know the YKYLF team is going to have eyes on it. Blood & Oil is ABC’s attempt to fill the Revenge-sized hole in our night hearts with roughneck drama set in North Dakota’s oil boomtowns. By all accounts, I should have been wrapped around this show’s oily, calloused fingers. Handsome roughnecks in flannel giving you soap opera-level drama — how could it fail? Spectacularly. It could fail spectacularly and that’s why I’m filing it under tc;dw — too cliché; don’t watch.
So what’s the deal?
Billy and Cody LeFever are two small town dreamers with Off-Broadway names looking to (as was mentioned so many times in the pilot) “get their piece of the pie” in the oil patches of Rock Springs, North Dakota. Billy’s cooked up some scheme with coin-operated washing machines and Cody is dutifully following her husband because, you know — “for better or for worse”.
On their way there in a pickup loaded with their future and worldly possessions, Billy takes his eyes off the barren road for about three consecutive minutes to tell Cody how much he loves her and how they’re gonna make a new life for themselves, only to find himself narrowly avoiding two tractor-trailers that have suddenly appeared and I’m assuming were actually ghosts on a thin, haunted stretch of the highway.
With their future literally shattered to pieces, Billy and Cody experience the first of what feels like 1,000 setbacks that are supposed to make us root for them. But that’s asking a lot, especially when Billy’s ignored Cody’s idea to insure their machines (because what does she know) and when we find out he didn’t actually have anything planned further than, “I’m gonna take my wife up to the oil patch and everything’s just gonna fall into place!”
No hotel reservation, no insurance, no leads on jobs (or any connections for that), not even a retail space for them to set up the damn washing machines. I love a handsome, idealistic roughneck as much as the next man, but for fuck sake, Billy — get it together.
Are they turning any looks?
Let’s look at the premise of this show again: young couple moves to the oil patches of North Dakota to make their fortune. Does that scream FASHION to you? The pilot featured a lot of plaid, a lot of denim jackets with wool collars, and a few rich white people wearing leather jackets — you know, to stand out. YKYLF Revenge fav, Lydia Effin’ Davis is now filling the role of a watered down Victoria Grayson as Carla Briggs, young socialite wife to Hap Briggs, local oil baron.
Look at this queen. For a split-second, I thought it was Claire Underwood coming to tear shit up, but it’s just Carla giving you a blonde bob for your nerve.
Blood & Oil is an obvious 2015 rip of Dallas but seems like it’ll focus more on blue collars rather than sequinned shoulder pads (which is damn shame). There was a glimpse of a gala in a stable — replete with chandeliers! — so I hope they work in a few more of those. If there’s one thing ABC dramas can do, it’s deliver a ridiculously over-the-top gala!
Anyone else involved?
Blood & Oil has plenty of side-characters to play with including India de Beaufort’s Jules, the tough bar owner/landlord who sports an rather posh British accent. You might remember her as the bitchy India (yes, same name) from Jane By Design. And next year, I might be introducing her in another show as someone you might remember from Blood & Oil. She helps Billy and Cody get some cash together for a land deal and rents them an apartment, and is sleeping with the local asshole, so expect big things from her!
Speaking of the local asshole, Wick Briggs is the son of Hap, the richest man in town. Wick’s not nearly half the macho stereotype of Hap and has a party boy reputation. He gets introduced after shooting a white moose which just happens to be sacred to the local American Indian tribe, which we quickly find out was supposed to impress his dad and make him proud. Like his character wasn’t shitty enough already.
The other two we can watch out for are Ada and Kess, the couple who helped Billy and Cody navigate The Patchwork, a parking lot riddled with trailers that masquerades as a hotel. They want to open a restaurant and Kess apparently has a magical talent for barbecue; I know, I know, just roll with it.
Should I watch it?
You know, if you miss seeing Chace Crawford or Amber Valetta or India de Beaufort on television, carve out an hour on Sunday night to watch. Don’t expect anything in terms of dialogue or realism, but enjoy the high soap value of the show. If you’re the kind of person who can’t switch off their brain and would ask questions like, “I thought North Dakota was polluted with fracking fields that are quickly destroying what’s left of our environment,” this might not be the show for you.
The fashion will have fleeting moments, the gratuitous male shirtlessness will factor in at some point, and there’s a lot of untapped potential with the sad excuse for Coyote Ugly* that Jules is running.
*You know there’s going to be an episode where “the quiet, average looking” female character is going to get liquored up to “Shots” and win an amateur dance contest, which will catch the eye of her love interest and he’ll finally realize that’s “she’s been pretty all along”, or some other patriarchal bullshit.
Oh, and Cody finds out she’s pregnant at the end of the first episode, just before Hap and Billy get into an oil slicked fight with a masked Wick — who’s siphoning some of daddy’s oil, btw — as a lone cinder dramatically sparks a fire.
The fact that I can type that sentence should be a red flag.
tl;dr No need to clog your DVR with this mess. Binge some season 1 Revenge or Gossip Girl if you need Amber Valletta and Chace Crawford in your life. Which, let’s face it: of course you do.