Ashley Judd’s new spy thriller series is not to be confused with the 2003-2006 psychic-police drama. It does have alot more in common with The Bourne Trilogy of movies and 24, although it has plenty of moments of the kind of cheesiness that ABC these days is famous for (see the likes of Desperate Housewives and Once Upon A Time for what I mean.) From the pilot, the show does have some promise, but needs to drop the sitcomy goofiness that it drops into on occasion and realize that the audience doesn’t need to be reminded constantly how overwrought Ashley’s former spy Becca Winstone is about her missing son. Really, it almost seems that the writer’s think we’ll forget if we aren’t reminded every couple minutes. On the other hand, the fight scenes are well coreographed and the locations are great. But really, the two faces of the writing are quite jarring. Choose one or the other guys.
The pilot starts off 10 years in the past with Becca’s husband (the ever reliable Sean Bean of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones fame) and son Michael returning to the states from Europe. We get treated to an exploding car setup that screams ‘I’m faking my own death’. Leving spook Becca a widow with a young and traumatized son. Why would Bean fake his death,? Well, we find out later that she was having an affair with an Italian agent (Ocean 12‘s Adriano Giannini). But I’m sure it’s more complicated than that. At least I hope it is.
The next while we get to see how much mom and son are a tight pair (as she’s clearly not told him about her spythriller past), although son is planning to study architecture in Italy. Becca reluctantly lets him go to remain back in the states where her floris co-worker constantly complains that she feels that her husband think’s she’s a piece of the furniture.
“Phil sets hotdogs on you?” Becca wonders.
“Not in weeks, honey,” her co-worker replies morosely.
Thankfully, Michael gets himself kidnapped, thus compeling Becca to come to Rome looking for him. And this is where the crew from the Bourne movies get into the act, as in the course of hunting for her son. There’s a solid fight scene between her and an Italian assassin (whom she kills expertly) then takes out a couple more with a stolen moped. She’s still kind of rusty, however, as she does get her son’s Italian girlfriend killed in the bargain. So quickly she’s on the run and we get more reminders of the Bourne series with the situation room at the Paris CIA HQ lead by a well tanned Dax Miller (Trauma’s Cliff Curtis).
After the Moped fight, we then get a tender moment when she hides out with her former lover Giancarlo (and the bathtub quote), but the plot moves quickly on leading to a decent fight on a train where Becca is tasered by CIA agents and then interrogated by Miller in Paris, where we get this exchange:
“My orders are to put you on a plane.”
“I’ll be on the next one back.”
“We’ll cancel your passport.”
“Are you an idiot?! I have passports all over the world.”
“We’ll watch the airports.”
“You have to go home OK. We are not going to have CIA personnel running their own agenda.”
“I am not CIA, I am a mother looking for her son!”
Ok, I’ll admit, not the best dialog I’ve ever heard. Although, to be fair, it’s not any sillier than anything that has ever come out of the mouth of Jack Bauer. Becca somehow convinces Miller to give her a few hours on her own before he will send her back to the US (which contradicts his orders from stateside.) Yeah, doesn’t make much sense, but I guess the writer’s had to do something to keep the plot moving through the holes they’ve introduces (like why the CIA doesn’t check out the people who kidnapped Michael, leaving her to do the legwork on her own.)
The ep ends off with Becca finding an envelope full of pictures of her son (including shots of the younger version of him – something that gives credence to my Sean Bean faked his death idea.) And, to end the ep 24 cliffhanger style, we get her being shot of a bridge to float seemingly lifeless amonst the photos of her son in The Seine.
Now, I will admit Ashley goes over the top several times over the course of the ep. But again, not any more than Keifer Sutherland ever did. And she does manage the transition from doting mother to killer spy resonably believably (at least for pulp-tv anyways) I’m hoping that we do get to learn she’s more than a momma grizzly over the course of the series, as the show does seem to have potential. But, then this is and ABC series, so at this point i’d say there’s a 50/50 chance it goes off the rails into ludicrous-land. We’ll see.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5