You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Red Widow

While tonally compatible with lead-in "Revenge," and offering further suburban adventures in the drug trade, the middling execution hews closer to presenting a desperate housewife than bringing to mind "Breaking Bad."

With:
With: Radha Mitchell, Sterling Beaumon, Clifton Collins Jr. Luke Goss, Suleka Mathew, Erin Moriarty, Jaime Ray Newman, Jakob Salvati, Lee Tergesen, Wil Traval, Rade Serbedzija, Goran Visnjic.

What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour premiere, since the first half meanders in charting the show’s ultimate direction. While tonally compatible with lead-in “Revenge,” and offering further suburban adventures in the drug trade, the middling execution hews closer to presenting a desperate housewife than bringing to mind “Breaking Bad.”

A lengthy 13-minute prologue sets events in motion, with the central character’s brother Irwin (Wil Traval) crossing the kind of people, we’re told later, who kill whole families to pay back such indiscretions. While Mitchell’s Marta enjoys an outwardly idyllic Bay Area life, she’s turned a blind eye to the fact her husband Evan (guest Anson Mount) and brother have been supporting the brood through drug smuggling, dealing in wads of cash and leaving a revolver where the youngest of their three kids can inadvertently find it.

“I will protect my children at any cost,” Marta snaps when she thinks her husband’s actions might endanger them, a line clearly intended to become the spine of the show’s bible after he’s gunned down.

The killing leaves Marta to clean up the mess, which requires dealing with the crime boss, Schiller (“ER’s” Goran Visnjic). Yet Schiller sees something in Marta — perhaps it’s those blood lines to the Russian mob, to which her dad (Rade Serbedzija) is connected — and asks her to take on a single chore on his behalf to settle her husband’s debt.

Of course, extricating herself won’t be so easy. Still, the show’s main early problem is that Visnjic’s suave yet ruthless mobster is the most compelling character, and he’s not around all that much.

Adapted by “Dexter” alum Melissa Rosenberg, and boasting a solid cast headed by Mitchell, “Red Widow” also comes across a little muddled morally speaking, insofar as Marta knew about her husband’s shady doings, but manages to act surprised they might have caught up with the family. That somewhat undermines the ordinary-women-thrust-into-dangerous-world aspect of the premise, though there are some intriguing threads to be teased out, beginning with the little matter of who actually killed Evan, provided Schiller can be trusted when he insists he didn’t.

All told, there’s enough here to stick around a little while, but this is one of those premises almost designed to strain plausibility over time — a scenario ABC has experienced with regularity of late in regard to its serialized fare.

On the plus side, the scheduling not only provides the program a reasonable lead-in, but offers ABC’s annual platform of promotion during the Oscars. None of that’s likely to matter, though, if this less-than-vibrant start represents “Red Widow’s” peak.

Red Widow

ABC, Sun. March 3, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Tall Girls Prods. in association with Endemol and ABC Studios. Executive producers, Melissa Rosenberg, Howard Klein, Alon Aranya; co-executive producers, Mark Pellington, Chris Black, Dana Baratta; supervising producer, Elizabeth Benjamin; producer, Tim Iacofano; directors, Pellington, Dan Sackheim; writer, Rosenberg, based on the Dutch series "Penoza."

Crew: Camera, Eric Schmidt, David Wagreich; production designers, Devorah Herbert, David Willson; editors, Leo Trombetta, Michael Ruscio; music, Dave Porter; casting, Cathy Sandrich Gelfond, Amanda Mackey. 120 MIN.

Cast: With: Radha Mitchell, Sterling Beaumon, Clifton Collins Jr. Luke Goss, Suleka Mathew, Erin Moriarty, Jaime Ray Newman, Jakob Salvati, Lee Tergesen, Wil Traval, Rade Serbedzija, Goran Visnjic.

More TV

  • Rupert Murdoch Bob Iger Disney Fox

    Disney Nearing Finish Line With 21st Century Fox as Comcast Bows Out of Acquisition Hunt

    What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour […]

  • Kenya Barris Alec Baldwin

    ABC Gives Straight-to-Series Order to Comedy From Kenya Barris, Alec Baldwin, Julie Bean

    What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour […]

  • Golden Globe Nominations: Good News and

    Golden Globes Nominations: At Least It Was a Good Year for Strong Female Roles

    What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour […]

  • Best New Shows 2017: 'Big Little

    The Best New Shows of 2017

    What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour […]

  • Ballers Season 2 HBO

    'Ballers,' Ridley Scott's 'Strange Angel' Selected for California Production Tax Credits

    What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour […]

  • "A Solar Calculator, a Game Ball,

    Delayed Viewing Ratings: CBS Rules Thanksgiving Week

    What if Carmella Soprano had to take over the family business because Tony was, er, permanently retired? That’s the potentially fertile premise at the heart of “Red Widow,” an ABC drama adapted from a Dutch series, starring Radha Mitchell as the mom turned reluctant mobster. ABC wisely decided to introduce the show with a two-hour […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content