I really wanted "Missing" to be good. And I really tried to find something positive to say about it. But ...
"Missing," which debuts tonight at 8 on ABC, stars Ashley Judd as a former CIA agent (she hasn't worked in 10 years) who travels to Europe to look for her son, who went missing while on a work-study trip in Italy.
For starters, there is not much about this show (adapted from the Liam Neeson thriller "Taken") that is believable. And even if you suspend disbelief -- which you must do in order to watch practically every other show on television -- the action looks fake, there is no suspense, the acting is bad, and the writing is worse. (I guess I'm just now realizing that Ashley Judd isn't an incredibly strong actress?)
Forget for a moment that Judd -- as Rebecca Winstone -- and her 18-year-old son seem to share the type of closeness I'm more comfortable seeing between sweethearts than between a mother and her son, but I'm also supposed to buy that this woman, who hasn't worked or trained as an agent in at least 10 years, is still skilled enough to kill a trained assassin with her bare hands and break out Jackie Chan-style ninja moves? (Note: They did include a couple of scenes of Judd's character jogging before action moves to Europe, which I guess explains the upkeep of her deadly skills.)
Here's something positive: "The Missing" is an especially good vehicle for Judd's stunt double, because there are at least three elaborate fight scenes in the pilot episode, with "Judd" kicking butt and taking names in each of them.
Judd recently said she did "most of her own stunts" for the show, so I am deeply interested in her definition of "stunt." As far as I'm concerned, it's pretty obvious it's not Judd doing the heavy hitting here. Even the stills of the fight scenes released by ABC look like they were posed and not taken during actual fighting.
Actually, there's a scene at the end of the second episode were Judd falls on the ground crying. That's the only stunt I'm confident in saying she actually did. But I could be wrong...
We're also supposed to believe that Judd is so dangerous that the CIA has made "bringing her in" their top priority. You know, so that she doesn't cause an international incident while looking for her kid. Because she's extremely dangerous.
Even though it's that part of the story that gives us Cliff Curtis, an actor who is incredibly appealing to me in everything I've ever seen him in except for this, the whole CIA-chasing-Judd thing gets tiresome.
Another peeve: Judd's character is on the lam in a foreign country without so much as a duffel bag or purse, but she somehow has a never-ending supply of cute outfits to change into.
I would love to list all the really stupid things that happen in the first two episodes of this series (one really awful sequence involves a bridge) but I don't want to "spoil" the show for you.
And honestly, I could forgive all the silly plot failures if the dialogue and acting were better. To me, it was just horribly disappointing.
If you're a huge Ashley Judd fan you will likely have more patience for this than I did. I have nothing at all against Judd (I've enjoyed some of her movies, like her as a person) but I'm not fan-girl enough to get behind this.
Now, watch this because the biggest hit on the ABC schedule...
"Missing" debuts tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.