Stay Tuned: More problems for the rich on 'Deception'
With the success of ABC's “Revenge,” it was only a matter of time before other networks attempted their version. “Revenge” is about a woman who, well, takes revenge on the wealthy and powerful Grayson family who framed her father as a terrorist and had him murdered in prison. NBC's version is about a detective named Joanna Padget Locasto (Meagan Good), a narcotics detective, who is recruited by the FBI to investigate the wealthy and powerful Bowers family. Vivian Bowers, the daughter of patriarch Robert Bowers (Victor Garber) and Joanna's best friend from childhood, dies from a highly suspicious drug overdose. Joanna, who grew up with the Bowers because her mother worked for them as a maid, uses Vivian's funeral as an opening to return to the family fold. She keeps the part about being a detective to herself — one of the many “deceptions” of the show.
Joanna is tasked with finding Vivian's killer but this is a murder mystery involving the super- rich which means Joanna's undercover investigation will lead to a labyrinth of secrets. Is it Edward (Tate Donovan), the eldest son, who was found not guilty of a violent crime during his teens, lurks suspiciously through the halls of the mansion and roughly treats his estranged wife? Or is it Edward's brother Julian (Wes Brown), the charming playboy, who created a new cancer drug for the family's pharmaceutical company that will make the Bowers even richer? Could it be Vivian's boyfriend? Is he the unseen man from the episode's first scene who gets into her car the night she dies?
Robert mourns Vivian and graciously invites Joanna to stay in his home and even offers her a job as his personal assistant but is he really as kind as he appears? And then there's the always-has-a-drink-in-her-hand second wife Sofia (Katherine LaNasa). What's her story? Could it be Mia (Ella Rae Peck), the jaded, angry teenager of the family? “Deception” offers plenty of shady characters to keep you interested in the weekly Clue-like mystery. (Was it Edward in Vivian's apartment with a candlestick?).
The more interesting question and what adds another layer to the standard “whodunit” plot device, is Joanna's history with the family. How far will she go to track down Vivian's killer as she's pulled back into the seductive world of the Bowers? Will she lose herself before she can solve the mystery? “Revenge” asks a similar question but with a melodrama that's missing from “Deception.” The Graysons are straight out of a soap opera while so far, the Bowers are a few amnesia/back from the dead story lines away. I hope “Deception” doesn't avoid the over the top moments. The problems of the super wealthy are always more fun to watch when they include a few cartoon villains and women in gorgeous clothes who deliver snide quips and throw glasses of champagne. A shadowy international criminal organization whose members make surprise visits wouldn't hurt either.
“Deception” is on Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT on NBC.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.