January 7, 2014

THE SKED Pilot Review: “Killer Women”


KILLER WOMEN:  Tuesday 10PM on ABC – Worth A Look

KILLER WOMEN can’t keep up the pace of its Kill Bill-inflected opening, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless.  The premise, adapted from an Argentine format (one of the producers is Sofia Vergara) by US series developer Hannah Shakespeare, is straightforwardly procedural:  Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer) is one of only two women serving on the Texas Rangers, and she’s simultaneously smarter, tougher, more compassionate and intuitive, and oh by the way better looking (a former Miss Texas!) than any of them.

There are other characters in Killer Women–Molly has a DEA boyfriend (Marc Blucas), a fairly sympathetic Rangers Captain (Alex Fernandez), and a brother, sister-in-law and nieces on whose ranch she lives while getting over her bad marriage–but the pilot, at least, is basically a one killer woman show.  Luckily, that woman is Helfer, who as fans of Battlestar Galactica know is capable of fulfilling all the demands of a role like this, from kick-ass to vulnerable, and if the need ever arises, she can also play alternate and contrasting versions of herself (got there first, Tatiana Maslany!).

The pilot starts with a literal bang, as a young woman in a hot red dress and heels strolls into a San Antonio church during the wedding of an Assistant District Attorney and blows the bride away.  All the short-sighted authorities are content to believe that it was a crime of jealousy, undertaken because the shooter had been having an affair with the groom, but of course Molly knows there’s something more going on, and damn it, she doesn’t care what rules she has to break in order to prove that a Mexican cartel was behind it all.  The Bridge this isn’t, and before long Molly and her DEA beau are double-handedly staging their own raid on a cartel stronghold and blowing away the bad guys.  Meanwhile, she fights turf battles with local police, and copes with the dark secret of her marriage, which won’t quite end because her husband refuses to sign the divorce papers.

It’s awfully hard these days to watch a network series and not think for a moment about how it could be improved by airing on cable, and Killer Women could have been a terrific stablemate to Cinemax’s Banshee with some additional leeway for violence, sex and sheer narrative lunacy.  As it is, the show has to conform to broadcast guidelines, which keep it more sedate than its best incarnation would have been.  Still, Shakespeare’s script has great energy (as does pilot director Laurence Trilling’s pacing), and it offers a fine showcase for Helfer, who’s a very engaging lead, based in fantasy yet grounded.

ABC hasn’t done much in the traditional action series area in recent years (Castle and Body of Proof are different kinds of cop shows), and while Killer Women is unlikely to be a breakout hit, it could be a useful roleplayer, offering a female-centric spin on the genre.  In any case, it can hardly help but do better than the Tuesday 10PM hour has done for ABC so far this season, with the instant collapse of Lucky 7 leading to week-by-weak scheduling.  While Helfer is a strong star, future episodes will need to build the ensemble into something more than the background players they are here if the show is to have any real chance against Person of Interest and the Voice-driven Chicago Fire.  With the right adjustments, though, the show could slay some timeslot foes.


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."