Monday night remains a petty bleak night for television. Even last night's Smash, which usually has some sort of odd delight or thrilling fumble worth talking about the next day, was a fairly unremarkable episode. Sure there was a proposal (during tech?!?!) and perhaps a budding affair, but eh. Accursed Monday! What were we to watch to while away the hours? Well, in our case it was on demanded episodes of ABC's Missing. Turns out that show is really fun.
When it premiered, the Europe-trotting Ashley Judd thriller — which is basically a gender-reversed version of the kidnapped kid movie Taken, only with more spies — seemed a bit cheesy. The locations looked cheap, the writing was purple ("I am not CIA, I am just a mother looking for her son!"), and the action not terribly believable. So we wrote off the show after watching two episodes, figuring it a dull misfire. Oh well, it was only supposed to be run ten episodes, so ABC would burn them off and that would be that, no great loss. But then, as it often does in the TV-watching world, boredom intervened and, spurred on by a friend who's kept up with the show and likes it, we decided to rewatch episode two of Missing and before we knew it we'd watched three episodes in a row and were clamoring for more. (There are more, it was just late.)
The show is still pretty ridiculous — this much mayhem going down across Europe would have attracted way more attention than it has by now — but it's fun ridiculous, and at times genuinely suspenseful. And the location trotting is picturesque (even if it's all in Prague); in the course of finding her son, Judd's character has traveled from Rome to Paris to Croatia to the Italian coast. Meanwhile her son is holed up in Russia in some creepy hostage mansion, which he's mostly free to roam, but if he sets foot past a certain point on the grounds, he's met with a bullet fired by an unseen sniper. The show surprises you with neat little setups like that; it's a more creative and less derivative show than it initially appears to be. Though it also pleasingly harkens back to the old glamour-action Bond days, the best example of which is an honest to goodness speedboat chase between two beautiful, pistol-firing women in the perfect blue waters of the Amalfi Coast. Sure if you stop and think for even one second it all seems almost unbearably silly, but in the moment it's propulsive fun.
If you've written this show off but are bored some thrill-less TV night, maybe go back and give it another try. Though we initially weren't sold, looking back, the show does pick up in dramatic fashion by the end of the second episode, with the action stakes rising (she gets off a motorcycle and chases a plane down a runway!) and the mystery deepening and twisting. After that it doesn't stop running. As far as we've gotten, anyway. Please no spoilers if you're all caught up. Suddenly it's very important that this show not be spoiled. Who knew!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.