'Bloodline' Review: Evil Under the Sun

'Bloodline' Review: Evil Under the Sun

By: Dorothy Rabinowitz

In this series set in the Florida Keys, its creators have explained, they wanted to "dig into the earth that is family." "Bloodline," then, is family drama, a genre that now portends a hidden history of dysfunction, of toxic grievances and revelations that break through the surface calm of ordinary life. Things are a bit different in the relentlessly churning but steadily compelling "Bloodline, " a saga that is all revelation, all eruption of one horror or another. The earth of this family, the much esteemed Rayburns—longtime proprietors of a local hotel—heaves with so much menace, so many unburied horrors and promises of more to come, that there is in this story hardly any normal life to disturb.

Not that the background doesn't suggest the paradisiacal. The Rayburns, local royalty of sorts, run the kind of vacation place that brings visitors back year after year, hoping for their favorite cabin. The glorious Keys settings that stand in contrast to all that's haunted and grim beneath the jovial surface of this family's life—the bluest skies, the sun, the beaches—hold much the same allure as these elements do in "The Affair" (Montauk) and "Revenge" (elsewhere the Hamptons), two other sagas awash in family secrets and chicanery.

It takes the return from who knows where of Danny (Ben Mendelsohn, "Animal Kingdom"), the black-sheep son of the Rayburn family, to get things going in this series by the team that created "Damages"—Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman. His arrival, it's made clear, is no cause for general rejoicing among the Rayburns, particularly his redoubtable and sober brother John. He's played by Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights"), master of laconic charm. He's the clan's dependable adult—at least on the evidence of the three available preview episodes—as well as the local sheriff.

Read the full story in The Wall Street Journal.

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