March 12, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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MISSING:  Premieres Thursday 8PM on ABC – If Nothing Else Is On…
If you’ve seen any of the commercials for ABC’s new MISSING, you know that it’s basically Ashley Judd playing Liam Neeson’s role in Taken, and on the basis of the pilot, really that’s all you need to know.  The show is pure premise.

In a prologue, mom Rebecca Winstone (Judd) talks on the phone to her husband Paul (Sean Bean) who’s  in Rome with their son Michael.  When he hands the phone to Michael and walks out of the hotel to start their car, KA-BOOM!  (Considering that Paul is Sean Bean, who’s billed as a regular, don’t be surprised if it turns out in later episodes that all is not as it appears–unless Bean acquired a taste for prematurely exiting shows from Game of Thrones.)  
Cut to 10 years later, when grown-up Michael (Nick Eversman), a budding something-or-other, is going to study in Rome, despite the apprehensions of his protective mom.  At first all is well, but then Michael stops calling or texting, and since of course the authorities don’t believe anything is wrong–c’mon Mom, he’s a young guy, he met a girl–Rebecca knows better, and heads to Europe to find out What’s Really Going On.  Confronted by an intruder in Michael’s apartment, she responds with martial arts and firearms expertise startling for a soccer mom, and it turns out that Rebecca is actually an ex-CIA operative, and when she’s hunting for her son, She.Will. Not. Be. Stopped.
Missing‘s pilot script, by Gregory Poirier, has little interest in characterization or even plotting:  Rebecca gets a clue, and leaps to pursue it, notwithstanding any shootings, chase scenes or explosions that may follow.  Cliff Curtis has the unenviable role (and the direct-to-homevideo name) of Dax Miller, CIA officer in Paris who has to deliver the “Don’t you dare” admonitions to Rebecca that she’ll never follow, while deep down admiring her skill and commitment.  The villains we’ve seen thus far are utterly colorless B-movie types.
Other than Ashley Judd’s presence  and its use of real European locations, there’s nothing at all notable about Missing.  Judd is always pleasant to watch, and although her stunt double provides as much of her performance as she does, she’s convincing enough as her son’s implacable champion.  Steve Shill, a TV vet, provides little visual flair–his main accomplishments are keeping the pace fast and staying out of the way.
Although it’s hard to see how this bare-bones story can sustain itself for long (what happens in Season 2, Rebecca’s second cousin disappears?), ABC’s 8PM Thursdays have been woeful this season (doesn’t Charlie’s Angels already seem like a dim memory?), and against sitcoms, Idol and Vampire Diaries, Missing could find some undemanding eyeballs.  It’s disposable television; even with a Season Pass, your DVR might forget to record it.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."