“Red Widow,” which debuted March 3 in a two-part event, isn’t a strong addition to ABC’s lineup, though its pilot didn’t prove terrible — at least not yet. The network’s female-centered venture was said by some to be a “wannabe ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” if one considers the common element of drug trafficking. But any other similarity stops there.
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Solid names are attached to the show, though experienced talent may not be enough to keep the series in production. Melissa Rosenberg (“Twilight”) produces the new series about recently widowed Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell, “Finding Neverland”). In the San Francisco Bay Area, Marta is left to care for her family after her flip-flop-wearing, pony-tailed husband, Evan (Anson Mount, “Hell On Wheels”) is shot in front of their son. But before Evan is murdered, audiences quickly learn that the Walravens are no ordinary family. Evan, with his sketchy brother-in-law Irwin Petrov (Wil Traval, “Underbelly”), and their friend Mike (Lee Tergesen, “Oz”) run a fishing charter business. But the business is only a front for their real work — exporting marijuana.
Marta is a sweet and fit blonde mom — not to mention the daughter of mob man Andrei Petrov (Rade Serbedzija, “In the Land of Blood and Honey”). Her family is “Bratva,” or Russian mafia, but Marta fights to shield her children from realizing how closely in reach they are of organized crime.
But when Evan is killed, Marta learns that hostility, discord and secrets plagued the trio-partnership of her husband’s business. Something went wrong, and Marta must settle the debt.
The pace and tone of the show is similar to another ABC hit, “Alias.” Though the new series’ background plot is intriguing, and Radha Mitchell is likable, “Red Widow” unfortunately lacks the panache and charisma that made “Alias” a favorite for many. “Widow” ultimately shows signs of a series that has a number of good elements, but fails to become “good TV.”And, though the show runs oriented on plot rather than character development, it’s awkward to watch as the few intimate moments between actors draw attention to the lack of chemistry.
Initial reviews called the premiere ratings “woeful,” and it most recently took a 20-percent drop from its already shaky premiere weekend. Most TV critics are predicting the show’s cancellation, especially after similar numbers were roused by another recently cancelled ABC show, “Zero Hour.”
Give “Red Widow” a try, but most viewers will end up checking their email and drifting further and further from the TV when it’s on. Might as well skip the pleasantries, and just do your homework instead.