“This is not a story about forgiveness,” Emily Thorne tells us in the opening scenes of the new series “Revenge.” Not exactly a surprising piece of narrative information given the show's title, but “Revenge” is a promising new addition to the fall schedule.

“This is not a story about forgiveness,” Emily Thorne tells us in the opening scenes of the new series “Revenge.” Not exactly a surprising piece of narrative information given the show's title, but “Revenge” is a promising new addition to the fall schedule.


The story begins on the beach. A shot is fired. A man falls to the sand. The action cuts to Emily at her engagement party where she is celebrating her upcoming marriage to Daniel Grayson, son of Conrad and Victoria. The party is at the Grayson's beachfront mansion in the Hamptons. When the Grayson's daughter Charlotte escapes the party with her date for a nighttime swim, they are distracted by a man watching them. As they approach, he runs away and they discover the man who was shot. Charlotte's screams alert the party guests and one mystery begins.


The opening scenes of “Revenge” are a well-executed plot device in the tradition of the best prime time soap operas. It's a “Who shot J.R.?” moment with the wealthy Hampton set standing in for oil rich Texans. As the action leaves the present and takes us several months before the engagement and the shooting, it sets the stage for the primary story: Emily has returned with one clear goal: To destroy those responsible for ruining her father's life.


The targets of Emily's calculated plan revolve around the wealthy and influential Grayson family. Ruled by the formidable and perfectly groomed Victoria, the Grayson's don't wander too far from traditional character representations of entitlement and privilege. Victoria, as she tells the crowd at her son's engagement party, doesn't give her approval lightly. She is powerful and intimidating but displays a genuine affection for her children, particularly her son. In the pilot, she unleashes her charming wrath on someone she discovers has deeply betrayed her. Thanks to Madeline Stowe's layered performance, Victoria is not completely one-dimensional and it's hard not to secretly admire her small act of personal vengeance.


Emily's quiet slip back into the Hamptons starts with her renting her childhood home. It is here that we learn, through flashbacks, what happened to her father, as well as a few other secrets she is keeping in her quest to avenge his mistreatment. The pilot episode also introduces two men from Emily's past. One is a potential love interest while the other is a loose canon who threatens to derail her plans.


Emily VanCamp (“Brothers & Sisters,” “Everwood”) in a departure from her usual roles, plays Emily's dark need for revenge with a calm and clever detachment. When her war claims its first casualty, it's easy to root for her and it's this conflict that keeps the series interesting. Will all her victims deserve their fate? Is she a hero or a villain? Will her desire for vengeance destroy her in the process? The series' success depends on how well it maintains the tension underlying these questions. So far, I'm looking forward to the answers.


“Revenge” premieres on ABC on Sept. 21 at 10 p.m. EDT.


Melissa Crawley credits her love of all things small screen to her parents, who never used the line, "Or no TV!" as a punishment. Her book, “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing,’” was published in 2006. She has a PhD in media studies. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned2011@hotmail.comor follow her on Twitter: @MelissaCrawley.