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Dead of Summer - Patience (Series Premiere) - Advance Preview: "Is It Worth Tuning In?"


1.01 - "Patience"
Directed by Adam Horowitz
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and Ian Goldberg
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

Seven camp counselors plan for the best summer of their lives, but the evil lurking at Camp Stillwater has other plans in store for them in the series premiere of "Dead of Summer". Set in the late 1980s, school is out for the summer, and a sun-drenched season of firsts beckons the counselors at Camp Stillwater, a seemingly idyllic Midwestern summer camp, including first loves, first kisses - and first kills. Stillwater's dark, ancient mythology awakens, and what was supposed to be a summer of fun soon turns into one of unforgettable scares and evil at every turn.

In the premiere episode, Camp Stillwater is about to reopen after being closed down for years. Deb (Elizabeth Mitchell), the new owner, has thrown her heart, soul and life savings into renovating the camp she loved as a child. She isn't the only one excited to return as six former campers - Alex (Ronen Rubinstein), Jessie (Paulina Singer), Cricket (Amber Coney), Joel (Eli Goree), Blair (Mark Indelicato) and Blotter (Zachary Gordon) - join her as counselors hoping to experience the freedom that camp brings now that they are older. Not part of the old crew, Amy (Elizabeth Lail) is not just new to Camp Stillwater, but to camp in general. While Amy tries her best to fit in with the already tight group, Drew (Zelda Williams) is content to be left alone. As everyone settles in and prepares for the campers' arrival, Amy is the first to get a feeling that something is not right with this idyllic summer camp.


'PATIENCE' PREVIEW

I feel like the name of the pilot is very fitting, as I think a lot of viewers will have to be rather patient throughout the episode to get a clear idea of what to think of it. I guess the question right now, as I'm previewing this new show for you guys is, did I like it? Yes and no.

I can't quite believe this was written by the creators of Once Upon a Time, with a resume that extends to the classic show Lost. While there were good moments in the writing, I'm rather baffled by the largely unbalanced episode, especially in terms of character and dialogue. The main reason I watch shows are for characters - if the show has a fantastic plot but weak characters, chances are I will drop the show. Freeform's new show, Dead of Summer, intrigues me as I'm a fan of these types of shows, with a mystery and some spooky drama, but the biggest problem I have with this show (and this can be easily remedied) is with the characters.

Go in with an open mind, is what I told myself. The show looks pretty cheesy from the promos but I still wanted to really believe this world that is being set up in front of us. However, that can only happen if the characters sell it to us, and I mainly couldn't relate, or very much like, very many of these characters. A majority of them I find annoying already, with their teen angst and focus on romantic interests. That part doesn't interest me. The actors aren't bad at all, but sometimes they slip up, and they'll say something in a way that makes me roll my eyes and takes me out of the belief of this world. For example, when the Deputy says "it's just the wind", there is legit no wind. For example, when a character tells another that they're going out for water, the other replies "well don't get axe-murdered", in a way that makes you say to yourself - really?

Having said that, I do like the main character. There will be moments where you will get frustrated with her, but there's a sort of flashback story that goes alongside her arrival at Camp Stillwater with the other counsellors. I rather enjoyed finding out why she was on edge with an answer that piqued my interest. I may be rather critical of this episode, but in holding your interest, it does at least that right. Elizabeth Mitchell, while not a very big part in the pilot, entertains as always, proving why I still love her after all these years. She plays Deb, who has poured everything she has into re-opening this camp. We don't find out a lot about why it closed down, only a very creepy opening that basically shows us an aftermath that something extremely terrible happened. I have to give props to that opening, because that was really good, and it kind of makes me want to stay for a few episodes to at least try and find out what happened. There's also a pretty neat "twist" with one of the characters at the end too, which I liked.

So certain characters are fine, and I like some of the mysteries, but those are about the only positives I can really find in this first episode. I do apologise for going back to being critical, but they jam-pack far too much that it totally kills any suspense or horror that is supposed to be felt. I may just be very hard to scare these days, but I found every "scary" moment to be cliche - we've seen all of them before. We've seen the campfire with the serial killer story, we've seen the girl walk off into the woods by herself in the dark, we've seen the late night swimming and the questionable ghostly appearances that make no sense and things blowing in the (imaginary) wind... there's nothing new here. Whenever there seems to be some kind of promise, it goes down the road very-much travelled. It would have helped if these moments were built into, but there's so many that they're rushed and un-coordinated. They sacrifice character development for these fake "scares" hoping to entice when all it achieves is an eye roll.

EPISODE VERDICT

Okay, there's so much else I could say but then I'd have to get into specifics, and that would give too much away. While I largely wasn't taken by the episode, I still think people could give this a go if they're after something a little cheesy and could turn into a more polished mystery. I can forgive Pilots, sometimes, I mean hell, I wasn't taken by the pilot of Pretty Little Liars either, and here I am 6 years later still watching. But I kind of expected more from Adam Horowitz and co. based on their past works, where I fell in love with Once Upon a Time for its Pilot. I shouldn't compare the two as they're totally different shows, but I guess what I expected was something more refined and coherent. Instead they threw in cliched moments to fill up the screen time, which meant characters weren't fully explored. I want to like this show so much, but unless you're easily scared, you probably won't find those scares here. The saving grace is, in some part, the mystery, and my favourite moment happened in the first minute, and the ending showed promise. Everything in the middle had so much potential.

DIALOGUE TEASES

- "New girl's got spunk, I like it."
- "You can be who you want to be here."
- "You just gotta get out alive."
- "Someone could just stroll in and kill each and every one of us."
- "If you stare long enough, the water will stare right back at you."
- "Sometimes you gotta do things that scare you, right?"

Are you guys excited for the premiere of 'Dead of Summer'? Have any questions? Let me know your thoughts and questions and be sure to tune in when the show premieres on Freeform, 9pm on Tuesday June 28th!





About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of the 'Abyssal Sanctuary' series. As Senior Staff, Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and reviews Dead of SummerDevious Maids, Mistresses, Pretty Little Liars and Salem. Gavin will write previews for Empire and Shadowhunters, and backs-up Once Upon a Time, Reign and Scandal. Gavin also writes special anniversary articles, most recently for Charmed. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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