“The River” (9 p.m. EST Tuesday, ABC) — a sprawling new sci-fi mystery set against the backdrop of the Amazon River — looks to be this season’s answer to “The X-Files” and “Lost.”
The show’s pedigree is a who’s who: Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Television’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, and showrunner/executive producer Michael Green (“Heroes,” “Kings”). Executive producers Oren Peli and Jason Blum were behind the “Paranormal Activity” movies, and “The River” has a style close to the “Paranormal Activity” films, with a single camera following a lot of the story.
“The River” follows the Cole family, whose patriarch (a TV adventure hunter played by Bruce Greenwood) goes missing on the river. In a quest to learn what happened, his wife, son and daughter trek out to the middle of nowhere with a camera crew and make startling discoveries.
Dad’s disappearance may not be as simple as they thought. And what’s lurking on their dad’s ship after the sun goes down?
Though “The River” will devote itself to the main mystery of the disappearance and how it happened, it also will have stand-alone episodes that allow new viewers to get involved, the producers say.
Given the credits behind the “The River,” it’s not surprising the show started out as an idea for a movie.
“It was just going to be about a missing documentary crew that has gone missing in the rain forest and filming the rescue mission to find them,” says Peli, “and I developed this idea with a couple of my producing partners, and we just put it aside and went on to produce other films.
“Then I had a meeting with Steven Spielberg, and he told me, ‘Hey, we should do a TV show together,’ and I’m thinking, ‘OK. Sure, whatever you say.’ “
Shot in Hawaii, “The River” takes place in a fictitious area of the Amazon River. However, aspects of the story are based on fact.
“We’re sort of culling from real legends and lore of that region in the Amazon,” says executive producer Zack Estrin. “So, for as many episodes as we are blessed to have, we’ve got spooks and scare things for a week-to-week basis, based on real stuff from down there, real scares.”
The cast includes Joe Anderson (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2”), Leslie Hope (“24”) and Eloise Mumford (“Lone Star”) as members of the Cole family.
Tuesday’s opener will be a two-hour episode.
Other highlights for the week of Feb. 5-11 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
“Absolutely Fabulous” (6 p.m., BBC America). In the series finale, Patsy moves to New York and Edina goes to a commune. Will our boozing duo really part ways forever?
“Super Bowl XLVI” (6 p.m., NBC). It’s the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem. Madonna will perform at halftime. There’s a little something for everyone.
“The Voice” (10 p.m. — time approximate — NBC). The second season launches with the “blind audition” rounds, in which judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green pick their teams based on only what they hear — not what they see.
“Smash” (10 p.m., NBC). Debra Messing headlines this drama about the staging of a major Broadway musical. Katherine McPhee (“American Idol”) and Megan Hilty are rivals going after the same role.
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” (9 p.m., Bravo). Season seven starts off with the women welcoming — with knives, no doubt — the newest housewife: an actress-turned-stay-at-home-mother of four (Heather Dubrow) who is married to a plastic surgeon. You know what that means: Face-lift discounts for everyone!
“Jersey Couture” (10 p.m., Oxygen). As a new season begins on this reality series, the styling business is eyeballs-deep in customers, and the women running it need help. But they’re fearful the owner may not want to hire an assistant.
“American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox). The Hollywood Rounds begin — and much heartache ensues.
“Person to Person” (8 p.m., CBS). This revival of an interview series that Edward R. Murrow originally hosted will spotlight newsmakers and celebrities in long-form chats.
“Grey’s Anatomy” (9 p.m., ABC). Valentine’s Day has the doctors tied up in knots in the emergency room.
“Cupid” (8 p.m., Hallmark Channel). In this romantic comedy, Joely Fisher plays Eve, a busy TV-talk-show host who gets an arrow shot through her heart, metaphorically, of course. Jamie Kennedy co-stars as the man working for Cupid Incorporated.