Implanting Billy and Cody as outsiders in the world of the town also feels fresh and lends a sort of Revenge vibe to a show that will undoubtedly get one too many comparisons to both the classic and rebooted version of Dallas. And although the writers don’t revel in the scrappy poverty of the town’s underbelly for long in the pilot, there’s a sort of tangible blow back from Billy and Cody’s struggle that, for a network soap – and take this with a grain of salt – borders on the Dickensian.
Where Blood & Oil falters is in its over eagerness to hook viewers that are used to rapid-fire plots out of the gate. A lot of stuff happens in the show’s first hour, and a good portion of it is excitingly rendered and packaged – an oil rig collapsing around Billy is a highlight – but it can feel occasionally overstuffed. The LeFever’s rise is questionably meteoric, Wick’s black sheep status is all-too-quickly breezed through, and a late-in-the-game pregnancy scare pops out of nowhere to introduce stakes to a show whose drama was already reaching sufficiently satisfying levels of crazy.
But, throughout it all, ABC’s new show stays headstrong. It comes from co-creator Josh Pate, who worked on short-lived series like 666 Park Avenue and Surface, one of the most underrated genre shows of the last decade. That show had a clear, addictive forward momentum that always felt ridiculously sure of itself even when it made little to no sense. Blood & Oil oozes that same confidence from every frame.
It’s got problems – the most pressing of which being that if Hap is supposed to be Rock Springs’ Victoria Grayson, Johnson had better start binging the first season of Revenge stat – but it’s confidently economical in its goal of pure, late-night, soapy entertainment. And with a cut-to-black cliffhanger I would feel comfortable calling the best so far of the premiere season, I’d say that most will be encouraged in revisiting the secrets – and drama – filled town of Rock Springs for a few more weeks.
Sometimes what we've seen a hundred times before can be tolerable if revisited with affection and aplomb - Blood & Oil's money-hungry characters and rugged landscapes are more than tolerable. In fact, they already border on the addictive.