Pilot – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Good Thing – | Review Score – 3/5
In Your Bones – | Review Score – 3/5
Heart on Fire – | Review Score – 4/5
Laid Bare – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Yes Or No – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Couldn’t Not Love You – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Choosing To Hope – | Review Score – 3/5
I Am Defiant – | Review Score – 3/5
I Have Got You – | Review Score – 3.5/5
When it comes to guilty pleasures, I love feel-good, soppy melodramas. This Is Us is one of my favourite shows because of this and one I have real trouble watching on a weekly basis without wanting to binge the entire series. When I saw the trailer to NBC’s latest melodramatic effort, The Village, this felt like the perfect remedy to scratch the itch left by This Is Us’ absence. In a way, it does try to fill that gap too, with many of the same similar plot beats and ideas but its haphazard pacing early on and a lack of mellow beats between all the drama holds this back from being a better show.
Revolving exclusively around a set of residents in a high-rise apartment, The Village begins by introducing us to all the key characters and their drama following them throughout the series. From officer Ben sticking his neck on the line to protect his neighbour, unknowing illegal migrant Ava, or Patricia’s ongoing fight against cancer with her husband Roy, The Village constantly bombards you with drama from the opening episode and it does take a while to adjust to the relentless nature of this. When the story settles down after a few episodes though The Village definitely improves, with a good build-up toward the finale squandered by a really poor plot decision for one character and an open ending that leaves many of the narratives unresolved in the hope of a second season.
While I did enjoy The Village, it also felt a bit like painting by numbers at times. All the components are here for a solid drama but it all feels a little too neat and tidy, hitting all the cliches, character tropes and dramatic beats you’d expect in a show like this without ever pushing them further, complete with plenty of vocal music tracks to accentuate the drama. While this in itself is fine, and something that works incredibly well in This Is Us (which I can admit I’ve cried to a few times), in The Village it often feels misplaced and misguided. Throwing a really emotional moment between two characters we’ve just met feels unearned and awkward, expecting the audience to immediately warm to these people before throwing us into another set of characters.
Thankfully, The Village does improve around the halfway point and a lot of this is thanks to Enzo’s story, which sees our lovable old man come across a woman named Gwendolina who he immediately falls for and spends the second half of the season trying to track down and woo. It’s the perfect remedy to all the drama here, injecting some much-needed humour and manages to balance things out in the right way. War vet Nick is another character who improves around this time too, after initially starting off as a very contrived and formulaic character, eventually evolving into something far more likable and with a lot more depth. It’s just a pity that The Village took so long to get to this point.
A few odd music choices and a very disappointing and anticlimactic end to Ava’s story aside, The Village has enough going for it to warrant a second season and another crack at the melodramatic mountain it tries to climb. There’s some good work put into this and the characters themselves are eventually given enough breathing room to grow into their roles. Whether it has the chops to eventually compete with This Is Us is another matter but for now, NBC’s latest drama is a good but slightly formulaic series, full of soap opera drama, romance and shocks that make up the bulk of this genre. While it’s a far cry from some of the better options out there, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
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Verdict - 6/10