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Denette Wilford Headshot

Red Widow Isn't Quite The Mother Of A Show ABC Is Hoping For

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Hot on the heels of ABC pulling Zero Hour from its lineup comes another series that will likely follow suit. I think the only question here is whether Red Widow will last more than three episodes, or if it can manage a run similar to what another failed mob show did (FYI, The Mob Doctor), and air all of its episodes.

Everything about Red Widow, from its network to its female lead to its cast, reminded me so much of last year's Missing. Yes, the network eventually pulled the plug on the Ashley Judd action-drama too, but it did earn the actress an Emmy nomination for her role on the miniseries (because only 10 episodes aired), so at least it has that.

But unlike Judd, who was so over-the-top the scenery didn't stand a chance, Red Widow's star, Radha Mitchell, is excellent. She plays Marta Walraven, a wife and stay-at-home mom who comes from a Russian crime family who has turned a blind eye to how involved her husband, Evan (Anson Mount), was in her family's business. But when Evan's partner -- who also happens to be Marta's greedy brother, Irwin (Wil Traval) -- digs them into a deep hole, it results in Marta becoming a widow being forced to take over her husband's job in smuggling drugs (probably not the import/export biz Art Vandelay had in mind).

And that's pretty much what the show is about. The series' two-hour premiere wasn't really bursting with fruit flavor (though the first hour was far more interesting than the second). A lot of it was about establishing relationships and showing viewers various relationships, but it drags. And if you thought things would pick up when we first meet the oh-so-scary mob boss Nicholae Schiller (Goran Visnjic), think again. He wasn't as menacing as I expected, though that may have been because we have yet to see his really bad side.

Mitchell is great, Visnjic is all right, and the rest of the cast does what they're supposed to. Mount looks like he stepped right off the Hell on Wheels set to film Red Widow, and he and Mitchell felt like an odd match. But I prefer his character to douchey Irwin, so hopefully Mount will return in flashbacks. I'd also love it if we saw more of Lee Tergesen (Oz), as Mike, Marta's begrudging partner and mentor, and Clifton Collins Jr. (The Event) as sympathetic FBI agent James Ramos, but I could care less about Marta's newly married sister Kat (Jaime Ray Newman, Eastwick) or her husband, Jay (Pedro Pascal, Nikita), who my husband suspects may have had something to do with Evan getting shot down in front of his youngest son.

Personally, I have suspicions about Marta's small-time crime boss papi Andrei Petrov (Rade Serbedzija, Taken 2) and his right-hand man, Luther (Luke Goss, Blade 2), who just seems like the kind of character where, if he was in another series, wouldn't have that much dialogue. They may have known Evan was going to turn on the family and decided to do something about it -- but to be honest, I don't know if I'm invested enough to find out.

The midseason schedule hasn't exactly been impressive thus far, and while Red Widow is OK ... it's just OK. Perhaps it's because networks can't handle drug-and-crime-filled shows like Breaking Bad or mob shows like The Sopranos. Red Widow may not be an original concept (it's inspired by the Dutch series Penoza), but like Missing, if you break the show down, it's about a mom doing whatever she can to protect her children.

Good premise -- just not good enough.

'Red Widow' airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on CTV Two in Canada and ABC in the U.S.

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