The Reverie premiere aired on NBC Wednesday night and if there is one thing that we loved about it from start to finish, it is the imagination that it showed. This series is visually striking, creative, and also thought-provoking when it comes to the idea of experiencing tragedy and also living in the past. Whether it be with our heroine Mara (Sarah Shahi), the man she rescued from his own virtual-reality simulation in the pilot, or even the woman behind some of the science in Alexis Barrett, there were echoes of loss and pain in all of them. These were characters who experienced something terrible at some point in their lives and have looked for a way in which to escape it.
From a creative standpoint, Reverie delivers with its overall scope — it’s a show that, in some ways, is about navigating dreams, and in doing so you paint a picture of almost unlimited possibilities. While we have seen iterations of this sort of idea in the past, doing it over episodic television should prove to be ripe with all sorts of interesting twists and turns. Mara is tasked, effectively, with having to “wake up” people who have gone into their reveries and are lost within their own false ideals. The entire goal of the project was to give potential clients a chance to temporarily escape their own worlds temporarily to find relief in new ones. Staying there is an entirely different thing.
Shahi is fantastic as the women assigned to navigate some of these worlds, and as a whole the entirety of the cast is very good. It’s always nice to see Dennis Haysbert back on TV, and the same goes for Heroes and Beauty and the Beast alum Sendhil Ramamurthy. The supporting cast members are all tied to the world of Reverie in working through the office — Haysbert’s Charlie has a history working with Mara, which is how she found herself tied to the project in the pilot, leaving behind her work as a professor / former hostage negotiator.
As for what the series can improve on following this episode, it starts with working to flesh out more of Mara’s own tragic past. Much of the action in the episode was centered around a violent crisis that unfolded involving her sister and her niece, but the premiere doesn’t flesh out these characters enough in relation to Mara. That’s especially true for the man who shot them, who we believe was the brother-in-law? That’s the issue there: It could’ve been expounded upon more and it would’ve probably been more helpful to get a little more of who these people were before the tragedy to better understand what happened in the weight of it. (Plot twist, though: Did the niece following Mara out of the reverie at the end of the episode?)
Meanwhile, it feels like more time can be spent at the workplace, understanding it, and even seeing it. For a group of people who do such revolutionary work, the actually offices in which many of these characters operated were a little nondescript and not as technologically stunning as one would suspect.
Like many other pilots Reverie does have issues it should flesh out and explore further, but when it comes to sheer ambition alone we give the writers and producers credit for taking on something this bold and bringing a little bit of Black Mirror / Inception intrigue to small-screen TV. It’s a show worth watching this summer, especially since it’s going to actually leave you with something beyond just the typical fluff you get this time of year.
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