I felt that I couldn’t fairly review Missing, ABC’s new Ashley Judd spy-mom-searches-for-her-son drama, because I didn’t watch all the episodes sent out for review. Fairness also requires, though, that I say I didn’t watch them because I had so little interest after watching the first episode, which aired last night.
It’s not that I expected The Wire here, or John LeCarre, for that matter. A series with this kind of premise (suburban mother turns out to be an avenging former CIA operative) shouldn’t aim to be high art. What we should expect is high fun, high suspense and highly inventive action sequences. Ideally, given how often we’ve seen elements of the premise in movies (Taken) and TV (the retired-spies-back-on-the-case drama Undercovers), there should also be some commitment to shaking up our expectations of the genre. The pilot, though, was self-serious to the point of parody, and Judd gets very little to work with as Becca, outside some stock fight sequences and some serious over-emoting. I might actually look past that if the show were engaging on a sheer plot level, but the first hour, for a spy story, contained little intrigue, laying out in the storyline in big block letters. There’s the suggestion that we have more to discover about Becca’s past (and presumably the motive for the kidnapping), but no reason to be optimistic that it will be especially surprising.
Is it possible that Missing will become a better show—or maybe preferably, a worse but more fun show—as the story unfolds and we learn more about Becca and the abduction? Sure, and if so, I’d be glad to revisit it. But at this point, it’s going to have to hunt me down and find me. In the meantime, you tell me: are you captivated?