Blood & Oil – First Look – Blood Isn’t Necessarily Thicker Than…


ABC’s new primetime soap, Blood & Oil (Sundays, 9/8C)has a first-rate cast, excellent production values and a unique setting.

Billy (Chace Crawford) and Cody Lefever (Rebecca Ritten) head out to the Bakken of North Dakota to set up a string of laundromats and cash in on an oil boom that makes the Saudi Arabia reserves look like a goldfish bowl. They lose everything in an accident, but events lead up to them wrangling a sweet deal with Hap (Don Johnson) and Carla Briggs (Amber Valletta) – the biggest oil family in the region.

Hap sees in Billy the son he never had – the son he does have, Wick (Scott Michael Foster) is not only a total screwup, but one with the arrogance that comes with being the son of one of the richest men in the country. Sadly, his attitudes cause a near disaster at one of Hap’s rigs and he winds up disinherited and kicked out.

Imagine a gold rush-type boomtown set in the present and you have an idea of the town that’s sprung up in the Bakken – a rough-hewn place where it’s pretty much every man for himself. Now replace gold with oil and you have Blood & Oil – a kind of Dallas in the dirt.

Blood-and-Oil - Billy & Cindy

Other key cast members include Delroy Lindo as Sheriff Tip Harrison – a bigger than life presence who suffers fools not at all; India de Beaufort as tavern owner Jules Jackman – a self-made woman with one major flaw – she’s got it bad for the bad seed son; Caitlin Carver as Lacey Briggs, and Yanni Gellman as A.J. Menendez.

The pilot is fast-paced and packed with all kinds of soapy delights: love, sex, violence, plot twists and more – all in a setting we haven’t quite seen before (and, unfortunately, one that does not resemble North Dakota in the slightest). There are enough plot arcs started to fill at least one season, which means enough opportunities to build enough more arcs to go on for a good, long run.

One problem is that we’ve seen all the potential plot arcs before on primetime soaps (like Dallas, Dynasty, Flamingo Road and on and on and on). Another is that the premiere burns through so much plot that about the only characters we really get to know – beyond hastily sketched in stereotypes – are Hap and Wick (and they’re only just slightly more developed).

A third problem is the rags-to-riches part of the Billy and Cody saga lasts just one episode. Maybe their story is about the sudden acquisition of money and the struggle to hold onto it, but it really takes away from the fun that the two lose everything in the opening moments of the premiere and have made up that loss by an incredibly high factor in next to no time at all.

I can’t really see this show surviving as it goes up against a lot of higher quality competition.

Final Grade: D