Reviews are in: 'Blood & Oil' – TV drama set in ND oil fields – premieres Sunday


"Blood & Oil" – a primetime soap opera set in North Dakota's booming oil fields – premieres Sunday night on ABC, and the reviews are mixed.

Many agree that the storyline is familiar, calling it "Dallas" set in the Dakotas (but producers dispute this). It follows a young couple – Billy (Chace Crawford) and Cody (Rebecca Rittenhouse) – who move to "The Bakken" to take advantage of the biggest oil discovery in American history, ABC says.

They plan to open a laundromat, but get in a car crash before making it to their destination and lose their livelihood, the Boston Herald says. Through a "convoluted chain of circumstances", they learn of property being purchased by the local oil tycoon, Hap Briggs (Don Johnson), so Billy gambles and buys up an adjoining property that contains the only road that leads to Briggs' new land, the paper notes.

And they're soon pitted against a tycoon, who "forces them to put everything on the line, including their marriage," ABC notes.

Reviews are mixed

Mediacritic, a website that compiles reviews of TV shows, games and movies, and gives them a Metascore based on the opinions of the most respected critics writing online, found "Blood & Oil" has very mixed reviews.

Based on 17 critics, "Blood & Oil" got four positive reviews, nine mixed and four negative.

The Washington Post's Hank Stuever called it "dreadfully conceived and horribly acted", while Mitchel Broussard with We Got This Covered said "It’s confidently economical in its goal of pure, late-night, soapy entertainment."

"In its current form, Blood is a throwback to a quainter time in primetime soap history, when a simple, well-told story of family intrigue was enough," The A.V. Club says.

Many critics have pointed out that the setting looks nothing like North Dakota (that's probably because it was filmed in Utah), and others, including the New York Times, say the show "has no interest in the actual sociology of the oil boom or the lot of the many whose labor fuels it."

Philadelphia Daily News said the "new 'Dallas'" is coming a bit late, noting declining oil prices are threatening North Dakota's boom into a bust, but adds "the story's timeless enough, if maybe a little tired."

The Guardian says "Blood & Oil" does have oil, but lacks blood, noting it also has no panache, mystery or suspense.

"Blood & Oil" premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. CST on ABC.

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