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The Americans 1.1 Review, “Pilot”

la-la-ca-1231-theamericans-0087.jpg-20130124 There are several things the show does well, at least with the pilot. One, there€™s the atmosphere. The production design pulls off a fairly convincing 80€™s look. The placement of cars, styles of clothing, and looks of buildings are just subtle enough to let you know the time period, but at the same time does not scream 80€™s. The show also avoids the glossy look that most shows have now, instead favoring an older, washed and grainy look that works well for the show€™s gloomy setting of the Cold War. Two, there€™s the tension. There are a few moments in the pilot that genuinely warranted nail biting. To name a few, there€™s the trunk scene, the other trunk scene, and even the meet the neighbors scene. You€™ll just have to watch the pilot to know specifically what I€™m talking about. I don€™t want to give too much away. Three, the show€™s pacing. The show took its time to buildup its main characters and central conflict, never spoon feeding anything to the viewers and always allowing just enough information and exposition to keep things interesting and flowing. The pilot didn€™t feel too long despite its increased running time, and things fairly stayed consisted as the episode progressed. Four, and of utmost importance, there are the characters. The two leads had their own personal arcs that coincided well with the episode€™s main plot. Elizabeth was raped by the defector and desired vengeance, while Phillip was beginning to consider becoming a defector himself because of the strain it€™s put in his life and the one he shares with Elizabeth. Special mention goes to Matthew Rhys for playing such a good husband, father, and boring friendly neighbor. The scenes between the family felt so genuine that I almost thought I was watching a different family oriented show at one point. Most of that was carried by Rhy€™s down to Earth portrayal of suburban dad. The episode did have its minor problems. There€™s the aforementioned plot point of Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) moving in next door, which seemed a bit forced. However this does open a lot of doors for more tension and paranoia for the Jennings€™ so I€™ll let it slide. My only other complaint would be the inclusion of the huge guy from the mall scene, the one who checks out Phillip€™s 13 year old daughter. His role was too small to be that much relevant, and something like that could€™ve been explored in later episodes with much more meat. Its inclusion ultimately felt tacked onto the episode. The tender scene between Elizabeth and Phillip at the end when Elizabeth finally opens up to Phillip was touching and well acted, though there could have been a bit more of it. Overall The Americans got off to a great start with a solid pilot that carefully balanced exposition and establishment. It has great characters, a gripping premise, and the promise of more character centered drama, without the expense of over shadowing a thrilling spy story. Recently, intense character driven shows are what prove to be popular on the cable networks. After seeing the pilot, The Americans can step up and take their place among the pantheon of cable shows now dominating the primetime airways. If they can keep the same quality of the pilot with the rest of the episodes, this show is guaranteed to be an instant hit.

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Patrick G. Emralino hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.