Blood and Oil follows Billy and Cody LeFever; a young couple hoping for a better life who move to North Dakota, the location of the biggest oil discovery in American history.
Warning, there may be spoilers ahead.
My first observation would be that Billy, played by Chace Crawford, needs to have his driving license taken away. The man crashed his car twice in the pilot. He’s just not a good driver. However him destroying his vehicle every episode would be a fun reoccurring joke. Sadly I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Despite his poor driving skills, Billy’s very likeable. He’s a good man who’s just trying to do the best for his family. He’s a little naive but honestly it just serves to make us more sympathetic to him. Plus it’s been a long time since Gossip Girl ended so it’s great to see Chace Crawford on our screens again. Billy’s wife Cody is played by Rebecca Rittenhouse. Again she’s pretty doe eyed but also sweet and endearing.
On the other side of things we have the Briggs family. Don Johnson plays patriarch Hap well but was perhaps underused in the pilot. Amber Valetta plays his business savvy wife Carla. You have to wonder about that marriage. On one hand I get the feeling that Carla’s true love is money but on the other hand they seem like the perfect couple. Maybe because wealth and success drives them both.
We saw some of Carla’s manipulative skills and scheming ways in the pilot, and I’m really hoping the show embraces that. She could be the most dangerous character of them all and Valetta would do it so well. There’s heaps of potential there. Scott Michael Foster plays Hap’s son and Carla’s stepson Wick. Yes, stepson. There’s some tension there. Also, a huge amount of daddy issues. And an air of entitlement.
Basically Wick is a brat. He doesn’t even see the irony of claiming he’s going to make it on his own, and then stealing from his father. Wick is one of those characters you love to hate and Foster is relishing it. This isn’t his usual role but he’s giving great performances so far. I’ll be very interested to see how his character develops.
At the moment everyone seems to be getting along apart from Wick who is skulking in the shadows and basically hates everybody. But how long do we think that’s going to last? I’m betting by the end of the season it’ll be the LeFevers versus the Briggs’. We’re obviously meant to be rooting for Billy and Cody but the Briggs family seems so much more interesting. This is a problem for Blood and Oil. Their two heroes may be a little too heroic and a little too nice which of course adds up to a little too boring. I kind of want them to take the money, leave and have a nice quiet life somewhere. But that’s not going to happen. They are quite clearly going to become jaded and tainted by life in North Dakota which honestly is probably not a bad thing as it’ll add some excitement to their characters. But as things stand they’re almost too sweet.
Talking of sweet how much do we love the Kess and Ada Eze? They are great. The scene where Billy and Cody gave them the cheque to start their business was very touching and a rare light moment in quite a dark pilot.
The darkness of the Blood and Oil is troublesome. It comes across as a grittier version of Dallas and therein lies its biggest problem. It’s billed as a soap opera and yet from the pilot it would be easy to label it as a drama. There’s plenty of camp and theatrical moments but there’s also real depth to it. It’s in a kind of tug of war at the moment. I’m not saying the show has to pick one: either drama or soap. Of course Blood and Oil can be both. But they have to get the balance right, as at times in the pilot I felt like I was watching two different shows. The real shame is that they’re doing both the soapy stuff and the drama really well; they’re just not mixing together properly.
Despite a few kinks that will hopefully work themselves out in future episodes Blood and Oil shows real potential. With little improvements it could be great television viewing.
Pilot Rating – 3/5