TV Review: “Blood and Oil” – Pretty Darn Dull

Written by Michelle Young October 19, 2015

Blood and Oil

There’s nothing like a good melodramatic soap, something so full of drama and intrigue that you can sink your teeth into and enjoy. For me, shows like “Empire” and “Scandal” have been the standout night-time soaps of the last few years, delivering enough of the sex, violence, and drama that anyone could ever want from a TV show. “Blood and Oil” is one of the latest additions to the night-time soap roster, but it doesn’t really deliver that punch of excitement that a good drama should.

The main plot of “Blood and Oil” is centered on the various people yearning to make the big bucks amongst the booming oil industry in the small North Dakota town of Rock Springs. From Billy (Chace Crawfor) and Cody LeFever (Rebecca Rittenhouse), the starry-eyed young couple that are new in town, to Hap Briggs (Don Johnson), the seasoned gruff oil tycoon, everyone is desperate to grab their piece of the pie. Of course, all this desperation and ambition breeds drama, pitting everyone against each other, which results in a lot of melodramatic conflict.

“To love, friends, family, and oil, by god. What the hell would we do without em’?”

If this sounds at all familiar, it’s probably because it’s fairy similar to the plot of “Dallas”, one of TV’s longest running and most popular shows about a rich oil family (ask any TV buff the question “Who shot J.R.?” and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about). The outright similarity between these two shows is probably the most glaring problem for “Blood and Oil”, because it’s pretty hard to shake that comparison. If you’re going to choose to do a concept that’s been done before, you really need something innovative and special to push you over the top, like what Cookie Lyon does for “Empire”. “Blood and Oil” doesn’t have that.

blood and oil

It’s also pretty hard for a show to feel particularly interesting and new when the central characters are as bland and white bread as they come. Billy and Cody are so typical that they start to get pretty annoying after the first episode. All they ever really seem to do is throw around their money, make out, and talk about how much they love each other. Other characters, like Wick Briggs (Scott Michael Foster), the snotty rich guy with blatant daddy issues, are just as predictably bland. I sort of liked Carla, Hap’s conniving second wife, but even she felt like a cheep Clair Underwood knock off.

“Not exactly sure how to say this, but um…you and Billy, it’s nauseating.”

The acting in the show is pretty ho-hum, with the worst of the performances probably being Chace Crawford’s awkward Billy. It feels like he’s just doing a bad Mathew McConaughey impression. Don Johnson gives the steadiest performance, and he seems pretty believable as an oil tycoon character. The thing that really bugged me about his portrayal, though, was that he inexplicably attracts women who are close to or less than half his age (Don Johnson is 65 and Amber Valletta and India de Beaufort, his two love interests, are 41 and 28).

blood and oil

The pace was also a really big problem for me. “Blood and Oil” starts off at a breakneck speed, covering about a season’s worth of drama in the first episode. That, mixed with the overall predictability, makes it hard to see where the show can really go in the remaining episodes. It doesn’t feel like any of the stories have time to settle, because everything just happens so fast.

“Were not even there yet and we’ve already lost everything.”

As flawed as “Blood and Oil” is, there are a few good bits. I did really like one sequence involving a rig falling down, but that was mostly because of how it was shot and directed. It seems like it was probably the most thought out part of the whole series. However, it’s important to take into account that “Blood and Oil” is only a few episodes into its season, so things still have time to change. But at the same time, most of what is wrong with the show surround its foundation, so I’m not sure if in the weeks to come we will see a drastic improvement that will make me want to come back for more.

 My Rating: 4.5/10

blood and oil

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