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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New show ‘Missing’ suspense and intelligence

Published: March 23, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

Often when reviewing a new show based off of a pilot episode, one needs to hedge one’s bets and say that while the show is good or bad now, that can easily change as it is only the pilot episode. I feel I can say, however, that “Missing,” ABC’s new Thursday night drama, is terrible and will remain that way. There was very little in the pilot episode to make me—or anyone—want to continue watching the show.

“Missing” centers on Rebecca Winstone (Ashley Judd), a former CIA operative, as she searches Europe for her abducted son, Michael (Nick Eversman). And that is it. That is the whole plot. The writing is predictable and the viewer has already guessed the midseason arc twists midway through the first episode.

Not even the show’s top-notch cast can save this blunder. Ashley Judd is a very good actress but this character is all over the place, making it impossible for Judd to shine. One minute Rebecca is kicking ass and killing Stasi agents, the next she is looking at a photo of her son and weeping; while this could have added depth to her character, it just makes her look like a mess. While an audience enjoys watching a beloved character spiral into depression/insanity/something-terrible, no one enjoys meeting a character midway through that spiral.

Sean Bean is a favorable addition to the cast. He will always be Boromir to me but, nevertheless, he was stellar in the one scene he had as Judd’s dead husband. But wait, why would they hire such a recognizable actor for one scene and then kill his character? See what I mean about predictable plot twists.

My biggest problem with this show is believability. This is coming from a person who loves science-fiction and fantasy shows and has no problem believing those. Yet I find this show unbelievable. No way is Ashley Judd a CIA operative. I’m not buying it. Every fight scene just makes me laugh because there is no way she would win. I don’t care how well-trained you are, Ashley, when you are fighting a guy who is a good foot taller than you and has at least 50 pounds on you, you are going to lose. Also, he had a gun; she didn’t.

Additionally, Judd’s character has supposedly been a stay-at-home mother for the past 10 years, having given up her sexy spy life when her husband died. It has been 10 years and yet she is just as deadly as a current spy and still has old spy contacts to rely on. In 10 years, people’s phone numbers change—as do their loyalties.

The chase scene was both predictable and fantastical. Wow, we’re in Italy, let’s have a chase on mopeds! Every spy movie that takes place in Italy has a moped-chase scene. When one watches a pilot episode, one wants to be amazed, but this scene just had a tiresome been-there-done-that vibe. Also, part of the chase was on foot and—get this—boot-clad men are chasing Ashley Judd who is wearing strappy, platform sandals. I don’t care how well-trained you are by the CIA, you cannot run in those kind of shoes, especially on the uneven paving stones of Italian streets. Also, you would think a CIA operative would think to wear sensible shoes.

Just to drive my point home: a fight scene on a train, really? Yawn.

I just feel like I’ve seen this all before. And no, I am not talking about “Taken” starring Liam Neeson, in which an ex-CIA operative searches for his kidnapped daughter in Europe. I’m talking about “Double Jeopardy.” Not only did “Double Jeopardy” actually star Ashley Judd but it was about a woman fighting to get her son back from her husband who is supposed to be dead. Ashley Judd is a producer of this show and I can’t help but think that she wanted to do a show and said, “Hey, let’s make ‘Double Jeopardy’ into a show. What do you mean that wouldn’t work? What if she’s also a spy? We’ll make it work.”

Clearly not winning viewers based on their clever new idea, the creators of the show were probably hoping that one would continue watching in order to find out where Michael is. This was also a failure though. First, I’m pretty sure I know who took Michael. Second, to become invested in a character’s well-being, one has to like the character. I get that Michael “saw” his father get blown up and all, but still, he is such a momma’s boy. You expect me to believe that an 18-year-old boy would come up with a cute text message so that he could tell his mother that he loves her while he is hanging out with his friends. That is some creepy “Psycho” stuff right there. Perhaps it would be better if Judd didn’t find him as he will probably grow up to be a serial killer. No boy should be that attached to his mother.

I was extremely disappointed with “Missing.” I love action movies and really wanted to like this show but it is just too predictable, too unbelievable and too nonsensical for me to waste my time with.