Friday, March 15, 2013

Pilot Review: Red Widow

Red Widow (ABC)
Premiered March 3 at 9pm

It seems these days that more and more shows are starting with a premise that doesn’t lend itself to an extended life, instead jumping off from a specific event and then being forced to mutate into something else after a few episodes, and certainly a season, something of which it might not actually be capable. The murder of Evan Walraven, admittedly less than dramatic in style than it should have been for a mob hit, was a catalyst for Marta’s immersion in her family’s world, something about which she apparently remained blissfully unaware for the entirety of her marriage to her poorly-groomed husband. Anson Mount belongs in the Old West during Reconstruction on “Hell on Wheels,” and he seemed an odd fit for the supposedly angelic dearly departed on this show. This show is hardly original, and it’s especially unimpressive to see how some of the characters are so thinly written. Lee Tergesen’s Mike is the worst offender, someone who utters horrendous dialogue and serves no productive purpose. Clifton Collins Jr. should have a much better part than a one-note federal agent with a junkie girlfriend who is supposed to have some complex relationship with the mob guys, and you’d think he’d be smarter than to change a flat tire while on a stakeout where he doesn’t need to actually be moving, allowing the person he was watching to slip away. Seventeen-year-old actor Sterling Beaumon played a young Ben Linus on “Lost” only a few years ago, yet he’s lost the signature appeal he had as the mischievous Walraven son on this show. Goran Visnjic is always good, but his role isn’t entirely consistent either, and his earpiece-wearing number two is particularly laughable. In her first American TV role, Radha Mitchell doesn’t display a tremendous ability to carry the show, and it’s hard to find her believable as a housewife-turned-criminal since she seemed pretty tough from the start. This show just doesn’t possess a unique appeal that makes watching it past the initial two-hour pilot worthwhile.

How will it work as a series? That’s the crucial problem, since this show’s premise only lasts so long, and, at a certain point, Marta becomes her own person and doesn’t have to identify as Evan’s widow anymore. She’s already indebted to Schiller, and Agent Ramos being so close to putting everything together means that many more developments are going to have to occur to complicate matters. I’m not sure this show has enough creativity in it to make it past a couple of episodes.
How long will it last? The ratings for the two-hour pilot were not good at all, and earning the accolade of having similar numbers to that of “Zero Hour,” which met its demise after only three episodes, makes it all but guaranteed that it will be cancelled within the month. ABC has other scripted fare on which to focus, and this one won’t live to see April.

Pilot grade: D

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