Some television shows have an excellent plot but don’t make it. Others seem to squander their potential for longevity – working with limited resources to begin with. This one was in the latter category. Though having seen it, I can say that it was actually not the worst thing to have air time.
Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd) has a past. It is one she intentionally built and now carefully keeps hidden from her son, Michael. She along with her husband, Paul (Sean Bean) agreed never to drudge up their pasts – or to drag their son into their work. That was before her husband and son went on a European vacation – before her eight-year-old son saw the car his father was in blow to pieces. Ten years later, Becca has adapted – and accepted life as a single mom. She is a PTA parent and soccer mom all while running a successful florist shop. Life is perfect until college bound Michael (Nick Eversman) is abducted on the streets of Rome... and Becca’s past is back.
Of the 3 ten-episode season fillers ABC ordered earlier this year this was one of the two that didn’t produce a full season order for the 2013 line-up. It isn’t hard to understand why but it was also a solid series with some excellent twists that played with our mind – and a show that needs something more if only to resolve Becca’s journey. I felt like some of the plots were recycled far too easily (some plots aren’t hard to figure out if you pay attention) for Missing but admired some of the directions this one went in from the writer’s point of view. Every single episode leaves you breathless for the next and in fact, I watched the entire first disc (four episodes) in one sitting something unusual for me no matter how well I like the show. Right from the start it ends with a bang when it puts a bullet in our heroine and us gasping at her being in – for all intents and purposes a life-and-death situation so early on.
Anyone who liked Taken (or even the Bourne trilogy) will find this an interesting mini-series (a better description since there is no promise of more episodes) although billed as a thriller this series takes a different approach than that of an action-packed production. Looking underneath that, this is really about its characters. It has a way of drawing us in through them, not the thrills though we are suspicious of anyone revealing themselves as traitors, all without being given reason to suspect anyone. Does that even make sense? The carefully laid stories that interlock and introductions to supporting character still leave us – continuously so, on the defense. It is the show’s propensity to involve people from Becca’s past that keep up such a cloak of mystery – hidden beneath each is more of a story than we are allowed to know.
Part of the reason Missing vacillates between Michael’s kidnapping and the people from Becca’s past is to keep things interesting – to add more content to the overall picture. The end game is always seeing Michael’s safe recovery although sometimes I thought they “forgot” that. No matter the cost, Becca’s determination is heartbreaking and it is Ashley’s acting that keeps up this genuine pretense. She plays the I-am-mad-you-messed-with-my-kid mother to a T. I loved her in this role because of that attitude – it really made the show seem more realistic even in its very unrealistic aspects. The entire cast is really quite impressive; there didn’t seem to be a weak link in it. The young man who played Michael wasn’t without some acting chops while elsewhere the veterans like Bean and Keith Carradine kept things grounded. Fans of Castle will also appreciate the subtle nod to ABC’s top-rated show – but be quick or you could miss it altogether! I’ll confess I was impressed with the show. It didn’t have the same intelligence as some of its mirror-exact counterparts but it was entertaining. The poignant flashbacks for once actually work for this and seem to transition really well. Unfortunately, its cancellation was announced prior to the finale and what should have happened was a quick, last minute edit or two to be wholly complete. As a result it would be best not to watch the final minute. If you are looking for something with a conclusive ending, you’d best look elsewhere.
(What to know: There is some flirting between a married couple; illusions suggest a woman had an extra-marital affair. One scene shows a woman being washed and cared for while in the bathtub following being severely bruised [also seen]. Implications suggest two teens eventually have sex [off-camera]. There is some hand-to-hand fighting [some more intense] as well as gun shots [various characters die as a result]. There is the usual variety of profanity, p*ss, da*n. The show is plays out as a TV14 rating.)