For the last month or so, ABC has been running almost nonstop promos for the new Ashley Judd, florist-mom-spy series, Missing. From the promos, I got the following indications and feelings: (i) the show would be set largely in Europe, (ii) Ashley Judd would be a Mom! looking for her son who’s name is Michael because she is screaming either “son” or “Michael” incessantly, and (iii) this show was going to be horrible from A to Z. If you’ve watched the pilot, you know I was right on all three counts.
Is someone named Michael missing? Did I hear that somewhere? (ABC/RORY FLYNN)
Rebecca “Becca” Winstone is a widowed, single mother following the car bombing murder of her husband, Paul (played by Sean Bean in yet another father role which was snuffed out very early in the series, see, Game of Thrones), some 10 years ago. Becca makes her living as a florist but in the past was a covert operative with the CIA (as was dead hubby Paul), with a very thin file which means she probably did some nasty stuff while in the employ of the Company. If you’ve watched ABC in the last month, you know that Becca has a son named Michael (played by Nick Eversman) and that Michael gets kidnapped. This happens while Michael is on an architecture school program based out of Rome, Italy. When Michael stops contacting her with their lame secret symbol, “235@w” (which is code for I love You Mom), Becca becomes concerned. When the school calls to say that Michael up and moved out two weeks ago and has been bounced from the program for not attending class, Becca becomes apoplectic. She flies to Rome, and using the Trevi Fountain as a starting point, figures out which apartment he was staying in (he had sent her a photo with the fountain in the background). While she is tossing the hastily abandoned apartment for any clues to his whereabouts (she does find his phone with lots of calls to Francesca at work), a hired assassin comes in to … do something. I don’t know if he was there for her which would be awfully quick response time since she was only in the apartment for 30 seconds before he showed up or after Michael and Francesca which makes no sense since he’s already been kidnapped at this point? I don’t know. Anyway, Ashley Judd, CIA Mom and Trained Assassin destroy the apartment in a fight scene reminiscent of the two terminators fighting in the mall in Terminator 2 with each being flung across the room into glass objects. In the end, Becca garrotes the Trained Assassin to death, when he won’t spill the beans on where Michael is.
At this point, she breaks into another apartment in the complex and finds the security camera footage of her son being kidnapped. Also, she contacts her (obviously former lover and) former Italian Interpol contact, Giancarlo Rossi (played by Adriano Giannini) and they hatch a scheme to track the kidnap van and try to rescue Michael. The van crossed the border into France and so that’s where Becca is headed, alone. Smell ya later Giancarlo. Before this happens, I should mention that Becca tracks Michael’s Roman girlfriend, Francesca down at her night club place of employment and gets her to spill the beans on something, I wasn’t really paying attention but I do know that its a setup that leads to Becca stealing a Vespa from a showroom and having a high speed Vespa chase through the narrow streets of Rome only to return to the club to find Francesca dead in the alley. Oops. Ok, off to France!
While all of this is going on, the Deputy Chief of Station for Paris, CIA Agent Dax Miller (played by Cliff Curtis), is obsessed with bringing Becca in because no one that could have taken out the trained Assassin as she did could be really retired 10 years from this line of work and so she is working for someone. After some more fighting on a (presumably) Eurostar train, Becca is drugged and “brought in” (as the jargon goes). When Dax objects to a CIA asset running willy nilly all over the continent looking for her kidnapped son, Becca makes it clear that she is not a CIA operative anymore but rather, a MOTHER LOOKING FOR HER SON!!! So watch out bitches cause this is going to get real! Dax is moved by her determination and her shaming of him for not having children 9and so he doesn’t understand the bond of love or something) and gives her three hours to find him … sure that sounds totally reasonable to accomplish in three hours.
In her three hours, Becca tracks the van to a warehouse where she takes out the one armed guard who is guarding a HUGE stash of drugs hidden inside of Buddha Statues (I guess the Virgin Drug Statues
have been done before?). She also finds a bunk bed with an empty pair of handcuffs attached to it and 235@w
(the secret “I Love You” code) scratched into the wall. She leaves a note and a live phone call to Dax leading him to the warehouse. The note says, “he was here” which way to be vague, dummy. Dax’s boss, some cougar in Washington DC who knows Becca’s (badass?) reputation, wants him to issue a Continent wide drag net to bring her in and Dax is conflicted. He issues the alert and we end the episode with Becca crossing the Seine staring at the surveillance photos of Michael (which span his ages going back 10 years to when Paul was killed in the car bombing) which she purloined from the warehouse. Suddenly, shots ring out and Becca is hit and she falls over the bridge into the water. The final shot is of lots of blood bubbling up out of her as she slowly slinks down under the water. unless the rest of the series takes place in flashback, I think she’ll be fine next week.
What a mess this show is. Its silly and ill-conceived and poorly executed. Its like watching a film student’s idea of what a CIA TV serial would be with a kick ass female lead. The only problem is that we have had shows like Alias, Covert Affairs, Agent 99 in Get Smart, and even Fiona from Burn Notice and I am sure I am forgetting others, all of whom execute the role of kick ass operator with more natural aplomb that Ms. Judd. The entire pilot felt forced and unnatural and used shouting and fight scenes to convey tension and emotion. The fight scenes were okay but the first one in the apartment is so over the top that I was laughing half way through it; it was like an old movie parody of even older movie fight scenes where the guys enter the scene carrying the plate of glass just so the brawlers can fall through it for the entirely satisfying sound of glass breaking. I am the exact demographic for a spy show; I devour spy novels, I am into action shows that use the latest techno gadgets and love the exotic nature of foreign espionage but this show just made oscillate between unintentional laughter and boredom and awkward laughter because I was embarrassed for the people on the screen. And in a completely frivolous complaint, Ashley Judd’s hair is just horrible; I couldn’t decide if she looked like Jamie Lee Curtis cira True Lies (where she was even more believable as a spy provocateur than Ashley Judd, here) or Demi Moore circa A Few Good Men. I found it distracting.
Keep or Delete: Delete. Delete. Delete. This show may appeal to that portion of the older female demo that tunes in for Grey’s Anatomy and private practice but will get slaughtered by the likes of Big Bang Theory and the NBC comedies.