Friday, March 1, 2013

Red Widow Is An Intriguing New Thriller

This is the midseason of the midseason, that odd time when the U.S. networks unveil series they're just not that sure about.
Last week CBS started it all with the new cop show Golden Boy.
Sunday  March 3 at 9 p.m. comes  ABC's Red Widow on CTV Two.
A lot of money was spent on the pilot which I've just seen. Cinematically this one is an outstanding combination of thrills and revelations all set in the San Francisco area.
It's based on a Dutch TV series called Penoza and was written for American TV by Melissa Rosenberg who scripted the Twilight movies as well as the TV success Dexter.
When you watch you'll certainly think of the series Missing with Ashley Judd because it features an equally strong heroine in Radha Mitchell. She has an intensity that makes you want to stay with the plot despite standard opening bumps ad twists.
Directed compellingly by Mark Pellington the opening hour takes us into the seemingly secure world of a Bay area housewife who one the surface seems to have everything.
As Marta Walraven, she lives in a grand glass house in upscale Marin County and has three photogenic children and a strong marriage.
But wait a minute. Her husband (Anson Mount) is a fisherman. How can he afford to keep the family going with such a lavish lifestyle.
And her father  (Rade Serbedzija) has had some kind of connection with the mob the rest of the family has mostly ignored.
It's all told from the female perspective which is still unusual on mainstream TV.
And some very compelling character stars pop up to hold the wobbling narrative in place.
Let's see, there's gangland don Nicholae Schiller (Goran Visnjic)i as a Russian mobster.
Her late husband's partner Mike (Lee Tergesen) wanted to make some fast cash. Is he involved?
Marta seems surprised that her nine-year old is suspended from his elementary school after confronting a bully with a gun borrowed from his father.
Obviously there are echoes of The Sopranos in the plot. But it might also remind you of Revenge.
Mitchell is good enough to switch from innocent housewife to vigilante without it all  seeming absurd . Her character is determined to find out who killed her husband even if it involves working with the Russian mob.
The first hour whistles by there's so much story. ABC is saying to stick with the second episode which immediately follows.
At eight hours in total this is a limited series ABC hopes will grow to become a fixture next season.
It really all depends on Mitchell's acting ability to keep us watching subsequent installments.

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