Entertainment Television

'Missing' lacks 1 spy weapon: A little levity

Give me a series about a strong woman who kicks ass and my fat butt is glued to the couch. "Missing" (7 p.m. Thursday, ABC; 2 stars out of 4), sadly, may not keep it there.

The new series stars Ashley Judd as Becca Winstone, who a decade ago became a single mom when her CIA-agent husband Paul (Sean Bean) was assassinated in Europe. Turns out Becca, too, was a spy, the kind that no one wants to cross, or at least lived to tell about it. When she jumps back into the world of international intrigue to find her kidnapped son Michael (Nick Eversman), she makes heads spin among the current CIA spies and kills plenty of baddies who get in her way.

Becca's search for Michael requires that she dig up old, unresolved issues from her spying days. Not to give anything away, but the first two episodes are loaded with plot twists.

There's a bit of Jason Bourne in "Missing," not to mention nods to Liam Neeson's "Taken," in which he played a tough dad looking for his kidnapped daughter.

I'm a fan of "Taken" and a bigger fan of the Bourne films, so why does "Missing" leave me so cold?

It's not because those plot twists are too outlandish or filled with holes. I can forgive those faults in an action thriller, and especially one that moves as fast as "Missing" does. I can even forgive that it trots out spy tropes I've seen in other TV series and movies.

What I can't forgive is how seriously "Missing" takes itself. Created by Gregory Poirier, who wrote "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," "Missing" barely winks at the silliness it slings. OK, when Becca interrogates her son's French girlfriend, she scolds her in a very "mom" fashion for smoking. I chuckled at that.

Even the CW's "Nikita" finds time for a few laughs and some romance. So did "Alias." Surely the "Missing" writers could have a little more fun with the idea that this former super-spy has been a mom and flower shop owner for 10 years. Instead, they load up Judd's dialogue with umpteen variations of the "I'm a mother looking for her son!" line in the trailer. They're supposed to be touching, but they made me laugh.

Judd, as much as I love her and believe that she could beat me to a pulp, brings absolutely no humor to her role. She's either crying over her son, killing to find her son or proclaiming how she will save her son. Her emotional range varies little between those activities.

Yes, I get it, you're one tough mother! Now could you lighten up just a little bit?

"Missing" star Ashley Judd will do a live chat on Twitter during the 7 p.m. Thursday (8 p.m. ET) premiere. Follow her at @ashleyjudd. Viewers can submit questions to Judd, who will also offer commentary and behind-the-scenes anecdotes about working on the series.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • March 2012 TV premieres & specials
    March 2012 TV premieres & specials

    March TV highlights include new seasons of "Mad Men," "South Park" and "Breaking In," the series premieres of "Awake," "GCB" and "Missing," and the final season of "In Plain Sight." Take a look at the season and series premieres for March below. As usual, I'll keep adding to it, and if you...

  • 'GCB' not as daring as ABC thinks
    'GCB' not as daring as ABC thinks

    How can a series that isn't allowed to keep the original, um, "racy" title of the book upon which it is based deliver a scandalously delicious edge?

  • 1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings
    1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings

    One man was killed, and two others were wounded in shootings Tuesday afternoon and evening in the city's Park Manor, Bronzeville and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

  • City lists 'problem landlords' on website
    City lists 'problem landlords' on website

    Chicago's Building Department published its first "problem landlords" list on its website Monday night in an attempt to crack down and publicly shame apartment building owners into providing tenants with basic services such as heat, hot water and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison
    Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison

    After more than six years in protective custody, the twin brothers from Chicago's West Side didn't look the part of hard-core drug traffickers when they walked into a public courtroom Tuesday for the first time since flipping on the notoriously violent Sinaloa cartel.

  • Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time
    Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time

    The first face-to-face meeting of the Chicago mayor’s race featured Rahm Emanuel offering a measured defense of his first term against a barrage of attacks from challengers who assailed his record on neighborhood development and crime and even his temperament.

  • 'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones
    'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones

    Director Paul Feig's "Ghostbusters" reboot has found its leading ladies. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are in talks to star in the Sony comedy about a quartet of paranormal exterminators, The Times has confirmed.

  • CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police
    CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police

    A 23-year-old CTA rider was threatened with a Taser and robbed of her cellphone Friday as she transferred from the Red Line to the Green Line at the Roosevelt "L" station, police said Tuesday.