Although the former Miami Vice star has shown up on HBO’s Eastbound & Down and El Rey’s From Dusk Till Dawn, it’s been far too long since we’ve seen Don Johnson regularly on primetime Big 4 TV. Now the Emmy nominee is back as self-made ruthless oil baron Hap Briggs in Blood & Oil, which debuts at 9 PM on September 27 on what is looking like a risky night for ABC. As my video review above says, the nighttime soap about the boomtowns of North Dakota’s fracking fields is a pretty blunted affair and doesn’t dig very deep at all, despite its possibilities.
Look, Johnson still has charm galore, but except for a few lines here and there, from what I’ve seen, the actor is held way too tight in check and never really is allowed to chew into what could be a real American story – if one was even allowed to develop. With a supporting cast including Revenge alum Amber Valletta, Delroy Lindo, and Chace Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse (who play the prerequisite young, slightly grunged-up, new-in-town-and-hungry-for-success couple), Blood & Oil clearly is Dallas in the Dakotas – despite what the producers may say. However, that’s way more Dallas the three-season TNT revival than Dallas the classic late 1970s and early 1980s show on CBS that has high hopes on the night once anchored by Revenge.
Part of the problem is it is hard to suspend disbelief in the already top-soil deep show when falling global oil prices are creating more busts than booms out around Bakken Shale, and the Utah-shot landscape on Blood & Oil doesn’t look like North Dakota. Another issue may be that the series created by Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne and produced by ABC Studios has bounced around from ABC to USA Network — where it was called Boom and then Oil — and back to ABC, and has had showrunner changes. All of which may have contributed to a show that feels buried in a gusher of clichés.
So, because one more rig-related line is required here, drill into my review of Blood & Oil and tell us what you think. Will you be watching Sunday?