I decided to reserve judgment on ABC’s Missing. Not because I didn’t like the pilot, I did. It was slick, compelling and full of clichés, yes, but still, I didn’t get distracted or want to turn it off. No I was drawn into the screwed up world of Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd). Who was this woman? Why did someone blow up her husband, Paul Winstone (Sean Bean) in Vienna? Why did her son, Michael (Nick Eversman) get kidnapped in Rome? Most importantly, when she encounters her first bad guy, how the hell did she learn how to fight like that? And she only had a clothes hanger for her initial weapon. We also discover that housewife Becca Winstone isn’t actually a housewife, she’s a retired CIA operative and apparently had a hot affair with Interpol stud, Giancarlo Rossi (Adriano Giannini) and it seems that CIA Paris guy, Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis) has a soft spot for her as well. They help her throughout the series, when they are not getting in her way. Strangely, she does get passed between them for the sake of the plot, creating a love triangle without any sex (so far), but it still manages to work.
Gregory Poirier (Creator and Executive Producer) explains how the show got made, “This episode was never conceived as a stand-alone pilot. We already knew we had 10 episodes ordered when we wrote it, which gave us a lot more freedom. “ Poirier and his team were able to get the financing for the 10 episode order by explaining to ABC that it was cost-prohibitive to go shoot the pilot in Prague, then wait and go back and start over again if the show got picked up. Instead he mapped out the entire 10 episodes for ABC and they green-lighted the project.
This approach allows the show a more organic feel. The pilot was written knowing how it would be integrated into the next episode, which is usually not the case. Sure, when pilots are pitched there is a series bible and a proposal about how the season should play out, what the character arc will be and the big plot points but things can change drastically between the shooting of a pilot, its subsequent pickup and the shooting of the rest of a television season.
The first three episodes of the show, the pilot, “Hard Drive” and “Ice Queen” flow seamlessly into each other. We follow Becca as she bargains with heads of international government organizations, battles bad guys in gun battles and hand to hand combat. She gets shot, falls into the Seine and still comes out alive. And she seems to be able to drive anything with a motor. Expertly. Between Revenge and Missing, I’m beginning to like ABC’s drama again. Yes, it is slick soapy drama but it is also network television. And there is just something cathartic for me watching Ashley Judd kick someone’s ass every week. She might be a pacifist but I’m not.
Missing airs on ABC, Thursdays at 8/7central
For streaming episodes, click here.