January 15, 2014

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Killer Women”


KILLER WOMEN:  Tuesday 10PM on ABC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on KILLER WOMEN:  Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer) is your basic aggressive, rule-breaking, sharp-shooting Texas Ranger–except that she looks great in a dress.  She loves her job, has a fine relationship with boss Luis Zea (Alex Fernandez) and a hot DEA boyfriend (Marc Blucas) to boot, but she’s struggling to get out from under an abusive marriage with State Senator Jake Colton (Jeffrey Nordling).  While she waits to be officially divorced, she lives on her brother Billy’s (Michael Trucco) ranch.

Episode 2:  For the most part, Killer Women is a very routine procedural, and one that’s content to have its viewers two steps ahead of its protagonist.  In tonight’s episode, written by series creator Hannah Shakespeare and directed by Marc Roskin, it’s clear the second that Molly goes to question a widow’s icy blonde interior decorator that the woman will turn out to be at the center of the murder Molly is investigating, but it takes Molly another act or so to figure that out.  Later, the decorator’s plot to frame Molly for a murder is extravagantly dumb.

And yet Killer Women skates right up to the edge of being something much more interesting.  The undercurrent that runs through the series is about women being turned inside out by terrible marriages.  Even Molly’s sister-in-law Becca (Marta Milans) suspects her husband of cheating on her, although it will probably turn out that he’s lying to her about something much more benign.  There’s a lot of dramatic mileage in the frustration Molly feels in the contrast between the power she commands as a Ranger and her impotence as an abused wife.  In what we might call the cable version of the series, the one where Molly is a female Luther, she’d tempted by dark impulses at the very least.  (The murder the interior decorator plans to frame Molly for is of her estranged husband, as though she’s acting out Molly’s id.)   But this is network TV, and Molly’s knowledge about bad men just gives her an empathy with the women in their lives that makes her better at her job; she risks her life to rescue her ex, and has an infinitely supportive, good-looking boyfriend to reassure everyone that relationships are ultimately for the best.

It’s too bad, because Helfer could definitely carry off that more ambitious Killer Women–she has the requisite good looks and believability with a gun, but also flashes of vulnerability, and anyone who’s seen Battlestar Galactica knows she can certainly play dark.  Instead, the show is just a moderate time-waster that doesn’t seek deeper audience involvement.  On those terms, it’s reasonably well done.  As in the pilot, the most visually arresting sequence is the pre-credits tease of the week’s murder (this time at a cocktail party that Molly is attending), and series budgets being slimmer than those for pilots, the climactic action scene is far less elaborate.  Helfer dominates the cast, although Nordling is effectively understated as her nasty ex.

Killer Women got off to an awful start in the ratings last week (0.9), and isn’t likely to go beyond its scheduled fill-in run through February.  It may be remembered, if at all, more for what it could have been than for what it is.


PILOT + 1:  Lacks the Nerve To Be the Show It Might Have Been


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."