March 24, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.
Previously… on MISSING: Remember Sarah Palin’s line about hockey moms and pitbulls?  They have nothing on Rebecca Winstone (Ashley Judd), middle-aged mother of a college-age son, owner of a florist shop, and kickass former CIA operative.  For 12 years, since her husband (Sean Bean) was seemingly blown up, Rebecca has lived a quiet life raising her son Michael (Nick Eversman).  But when Michael goes to Rome for an architecture course and is promptly kidnapped, Rebecca goes all Liam Neeson in Taken, and rushes to Europe to track down her kid.  Surrounded by people eager to betray her, and with a mysterious backstory of her own, Rebecca’s only ambiguous support comes from the CIA station chief in Paris, Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis), a nice guy who knows he shouldn’t be sympathetic to Rebecca’s off-the-reservation antics, but can’t help himself.  Rebecca had tracked Michael to a warehouse in Paris, but he’d been taken from there, and she’d found proof that whoever the kidnappers are, they’d been running surveillance on her family for years, when–

Episode 2:  –She was shot in the heart, and fell into the Seine.  So… that’s it, show over.  Thanks for watching, folks!  Oh, wait… it turns out Rebecca had one of those magic movie wounds that go completely through the center of your chest without hitting the heart, lungs, ribs, or causing anything more than a wince when someone touches your back.  OK, then.  Pushing onward…

In this week’s episode, written by Greg Scharbo and directed by Steve Shill, we got a feel for how Missing plans to extend the hunt for Michael through 13 episodes (at least), which is basically to follow the 24 plan and make each episode a sub-story in which Rebecca has to deal with an immediate crisis to get one step closer to her son.  This time, she made a deal with a shady member of French intelligence (Joaquin de Almeida), promising to deliver to him the runaway spy known as Hard Drive (a joke no one in the show seems to get), who’s memorized information about Shady Agent that could put him behind bars.  In return, Shady Agent will deliver Michael to Rebecca.

Well, clearly that’s not going to happen.  (See “show over,” above.)  So Shady doublecrosses Rebecca, who remembers she’s one of the good guys and decides to bring Shady down and protect Hard Drive.  

Missing remains, as the pilot suggested, reasonably proficient without being thrilling or surprising in any way.  Unlike 24, the scripts aren’t developing any interesting side characters so far–everyone is just grim, and no one more than Judd, who’s rarely moved a facial muscle in the initial 2 hours.  The show’s complete lack of a sense of humor is also a problem when the stories feature so many bits of unintentional hilarity.  My favorite this week:  Rebecca (or her stunt double) makes a difficult climb up the wall of an office building to remain hidden from the guards as she tries to break into Shady Agent’s office–while Hard Drive rides up simultaneously in a glass-walled elevator, in plain view of everyone.  Also, when Hard Drive is frantically downloading the damaging information about Shady Agent before he can be discovered and killed, it turns out that he took the time to format the data as a polished newspaper story, complete with headline fonts and a photo of Shady Agent.  And wait, there’s more:  when Rebecca contacts Dax to tell him he has to stop a plane from taking off outside of Paris because her son is going to be on it, Dax doesn’t pick up the phone and call for back-up or order the airport closed–he gets in the car and drives all the way to the runway himself, apparently planning to stop the plane with his bare hands (and narrowly missing the flight, of course). 
The ratings for Missing‘s second episode suggest that it isn’t developing much audience interest, and unless it finds some reason for existing beyond its European locations (those that aren’t CG’d over people’s shoulders), the next vacancy will be on ABC’s Thursday schedule. 
ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…
PILOT + 1: Viewers May Want To Vanish Too

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."