Shining Vale Season 1 Episode 1 marks the return of Courtney Cox to somewhat mainstream television. Shining Vale premiered last week when the first two episodes were released to STARZPLAY.
The first episode follows the move of the Phelps family from Brooklyn to Shining Vale following an affair Pat (Courtney Cox) had with their handyman. Pat is erratic and has been suffering with depression and as they pull up to their new house, her husband Terry is forced to stop the car when Pat is adamant she has seen a little girl in front of the car.
Pat and Terry are accompanied on their move by their two children, Gaynor and Jake. They have purchased an old Victorian property for a large sum under the asking price. We’re not too sure how realistic that is in this economy, but nonetheless the place is creepy and foreshadows what is to come for the Phelps.
Three months prior, a flashback shows Pat and Terry in therapy. 17 years have passed since Pat successfully published her erotic novel and she largely hasn’t gotten over the fact that she has been unable to write the sequel. During the therapy session, it becomes clear that Pat is suffering from psychosis in which she has been prescribed medication. Pat explains that she feels as though she is being possessed and isn’t herself.
Back in the present, Pat has been working hard to decorate the house and get it ready for her children. Gaynor and Pat come to a typical daughter-mother disagreement when Pat mocks Gaynor for her dress choice, remarking that it is too “slutty” — I couldn’t help but laugh at this given it’s Courtney Cox who plays Pat.
After Jake and Gaynor go to school, Pat is forced to begin writing her novel when her sister, Trish, tells her she has until the next month to provide the first chapter of the sequel. Pat settles in the huge attic (which she has dubbed her study) to begin writing the sequel, Cressida: Rebound. Pat begins hearing strange noises (obviously, she’s in the attic?) and quickly becomes spooked.
Pat is eventually distracted by the dog, Roxie, who wants to play ball. She later talks with Terry, telling him that she is sure they have made a mistake with their move. Terry tells her that it is too late to turn back, and that it was probably the wind playing tricks on her.
Despite the concerns raised by Pat, she and Terry enjoy a dinner with their kids after school and it is as though nothing ever happened.
Later that night, things become more complex for Pat as she is awoken during the night by a strange voice calling her name. Pat’s worries are somewhat put to rest when she takes out Roxie but finds it is a deer causing the dog to bark; she must feel like an idiot, right?
As Pat checks out the house for anything else weird, she is relieved to find nothing. Pat is shocked, though, when she turns around to find the woman she has been seeing is in her house and questioning her.
The whole premise of the show feels too much like a Haunting of Hill House rip off. Nonetheless, it’s good, though, but I’m not entirely sure how much further they can go without copying other shows.
It is nice to see Cox return to somewhat mainstream media, though, even if it is borderline and average. What did you think of Shining Vale season 1 episode 1?
You can catch the first episode on STARZPLAY here.