Third-episode verdict: Blood & Oil (US: ABC)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, ABC 
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Originally, I billed this as ‘stupid Dallas‘, which given how idiotic Dallas was should tell you how stupid Blood & Oil is. Set in the recent North Dakota oil rush – the one that John Oliver did a piece about on Sunday – it sees two incompetent, newly wed buffoons (Chase Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse) head to the 50th most popular US state to set up a laundromat, only to seize the day and grab a slice of the oil boom, while getting into bed (only metaphorically at the moment) with oil baron Don Johnson.

And despite a momentary blip when episode two seemed to suggest that Crawford might have greater mental acuity than someone in a vegetative state on life support – he talks about ‘vertical integration’ at one point – I’m still going to go with ‘stupid Dallas‘, a show about stupid people doing stupid things involving oil.

It’s really hard to explain just how many stupid things happen each episode without giving away big spoilers, but even if you’re sitting at home, texting your friends, watching YouTube videos involving dancing cats and then look up momentarily at the TV screen to devote even 1% of your working brain to what’s going on, what you’ll notice is:

  1. Either something will happen that will immediately suggest a future event that the show thinks will be a twist but which is entirely obvious from that point onwards
  2. Or that thing doesn’t happen because everyone’s so stupid, it takes another episode for everything to percolate through their tiny, tiny brains.

On top of that, with the exception of Johnson (who’s one of the show’s producers so has probably engineered it that way), every single character, particularly bar-owning loan shark Brit India de Beaufort, is not just stupid but intensely irritating. Plus despite being North Dakota and there being a big oilfield on ‘Indian land’, somehow the show manages to be incredibly white, the only two non-white characters being a black couple serving the local populace with a takeaway van. 

It’s hard to say which Sunday night ABC show is worse: Quantico or Blood & Oil. After all, they both get the same Barrometer rating. Yet although Blood & Oil has never sunk to the same depths as Quantico‘s pilot, Quantico has never been dull, whereas Blood & Oil almost goes out of its way to make a simple rags to riches story as unglamorous, unexciting and miserable as possible. There are no oil baron balls to enjoy, just dirt, mobile restaurants and bankruptcies. 

Either way, ABC’s Sunday night line up honestly makes you want to go to church instead.

Barrometer rating: 4
TMINE’s prediction: Cancelled before the end of the first season


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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