TV Review: ‘Betrayal’

Betryan Review ABC

ABC soap falls somewhere between Lifetime movie and perfume ad

ABC has a way of developing the occasional drama that, viewed with the sound down, could easily be mistaken for a perfume commercial. Enter “Betrayal,” described as a limited series, which might be a convenient way of saying, “We meant for this to go away after a limited number of episodes.” Conceptually a close cousin of old-fashioned Lifetime movies, the series hinges on a married photographer who is instantly drawn to a handsome attorney, initiating (after many longing looks) a “torrid affair,” per the press notes, that onscreen doesn’t even smolder. It’s more daytime soap, frankly, than ready for primetime.

Although she’s hardly unhappy in her marriage to a Chicago prosecutor (Chris Johnson), sparks quickly fly when Sara (Brit newcomer Hannah Ware) meets Jack McAllister (Stuart Townsend, another accent-less import) at a showing of her art. He’s a high-powered fixer/inhouse counsel for an imperious boss named Thatcher Karsten (James Cromwell) with one of those strung-out nincompoop sons (Henry Thomas) that wealthy and powerful men tend to produce, especially in TV and movies.

She’s working on a magazine piece about obsession, which certainly dovetails with these unexpected, troublesome feelings for Jack. Yet unlike the movie “Betrayal,” which documented an affair in reverse, this pilot (adapted from a Dutch series by David Zabel and directed, without particular flair, by “Monster’s” Patty Jenkins) chronicles the inevitable plunge toward infidelity in what feels like slow motion, giving Ware a chance to show off a truly fabulous set of lips, and eventually a whole lot more.

Still, in a world where cable is everywhere, hot sex by network standards isn’t as steamy as it used to be (though lord knows “Betrayal” pushes dorsal skin angles about as far and artfully as it can). And even with a closing twist that introduces a narrative hook beyond mere adultery involving a murder trial, the show already has a strained feel in its piling on of happenstance and near misses.

Granted, ABC has gotten more mileage out of that formula than anyone might have guessed with “Scandal” and “Revenge” — “Betrayal’s” lead-in, which has careened well beyond crazy at this point — and there’s a rich history of movies and TV aimed at tapping into women’s Harlequin Romance fantasies. That said, if “Betrayal” wants to evoke Adrian Lyne’s 2002 “Unfaithful,” it winds up hewing closer to the little-seen 1984 Simpson-Bruckheimer gem “Thief of Hearts.”

Barring an unexpected turn for the better, the show seems destined to generate more unintended giggles than heat (the ads should really say “ABC’s funniest new series!”). Because while TV has plenty of room for guilty pleasures, they should really be more satisfying than this.

TV Review: 'Betrayal'

(Series; ABC, Sun. Sept. 29, 10 p.m.)


Filmed in Chicago by ABC Studios.


Executive producers, David Zabel, Lisa Zwerling, Alon Aranya, Rob Golenberg, Patty Jenkins, Frank Ketelaar, Robert Kievit; producer, Tim Iacofano; director, Jenkins; writer, Zabel, based on the Dutch series “Overspel” created by Ketelaar, Kievit; camera, Peter Wunstorf; production designer, Maria Caso; editor, Jacque Toberen; music, BT and Mike DiMattia; casting, Veronica Collins Rooney. 60 MIN.


Hannah Ware, Henry Thomas, Chris Johnson, Wendy Moniz, Elizabeth McLaughlin, Braeden Lemasters, Stuart Townsend, James Cromwell

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  1. harleyb says:

    Just watched the 1st 3 episodes On Demand….OMG, love it! Seriously mindless guilty pleasure TV.

  2. Tamara says:

    I love Betrayal – the cast, the storyline, the chemistry, the clothes, Chicago! I think the reviews are unfair. Maybe infidelity in this scope makes people uncomfortable, as we see how easily it can happen, even to “happy” couples. I hope it makes it to the end of the season- I’m hooked and would like to see how it all turns out.

  3. Linda S Perez says:

    The mini series Betrayal is very interesting, the dynamics and sexual tension between the characters is fantastic and realistic. Maybe the low rating is due to the fact that on Sunday nights we are all preparing to return back to work and watching television is the last thing on our minds. I just think that perhaps a Friday viewing would be much better for the show. After a long working week , it would be nice to kick off the shoes and watch a show that is targeted to adults instead of so many senseless comedies. I enjoy the show every much.

    • Mary says:

      Good points made ! I am…I look forward to ending the weekend with a good show like I feel that Betrayal is.
      I love the cast ….the story line which keeps getting better and better..and the chemistry between Sara and Jack. I have always enjoyed Stuart Townsend (Jack).
      and how true…..your comment about senseless comedies…and also reality shows…that keep getting renewed.
      At least let us see the 13 episodes…so we know why Sara was shot.

  4. Mary says:

    mostly great comments for a show I love!!!! Ii know many of you here who have written to abc…as I did…and I got some great replies. All comments are being sent to the abc audience relations dept.
    Let’s hope we get the 13 shows…would hate to not know why Sara was shot. Not fair to the audience.
    Write to abc…..go to the show site…and to the bottom of the page…you will see Feedback….go from there..please write!!

  5. Barbara says:

    I really like “Betrayal”! The cast is superb! Please do not cancel it!


  6. leeann says:

    Men should never review this show, they just don’t get it! ABC I love this show more than scandal or even the good wife, which i watch religiously. Please give this show a chance.

  7. dee says:

    omg don’t touch this show its great chris is so sexy please finally a good show

  8. mary says:

    just saw episode two…oh my soooo good ! looks as if Sara and Jack will “make up” surely hope so.
    I did write to abc about not canceling the show…and did get a reply from an actual person…so….get busy people..write abc !!!!!! let’s keep the show!!!!!

  9. Ashleigh says:

    I loved this! I am totally hooked and can’t wait for the next episode.

    • mary says:

      I totally agree……love Sara and Jack….Stuart Townsend and Hannah Ware are so good together.
      remember… is meant to entertain. It does not have to have great meaning etc. Let us enjoy
      a good show. Perfect way to end a weekend… football….enough already during the day.

  10. Beth says:

    loved it…was hooked in 5 min…hope it stays…….

  11. jo says:

    I hated the pilot. It really just makes you sick. It’s your classical cheating drama.

  12. siren72 says:

    Comment about the character of T.J. is just cold. He has cleared suffered brain damage as a result of his near drowning. He’s not a “nincompoop”.

    • fallawayay says:

      yep B. Lowry, YOU seem to be the one inflicted with ‘nincompoop’itus …whether you felt show was a bomb or not, at least demo that you paid some attention to the basic storyline before the crack analysis. It was clearly discussed and referred to several times that the son survived an accident/ had almost drowned….HULLO. Maybe give ep 2 a whirl (?), see if you can keep up between your ‘unintended giggles’…

  13. oops says:

    Show was horrible – literally laughed at how old fashioned and absurd it was. Should be gone in three weeks or less.

  14. Sara says:

    Loved the show! Do not cancel!

  15. Renee says:

    ABC. Please do not cancel this show !!! It it very exciting and I want more!!!!!

  16. Soul says:

    Great Plot Loved it

  17. Sue Bernard says:

    Eh, not so much.

    • Barbara says:

      This show is great! Do not cancel it! I agree with the previous comment that a man should not review a show like this. It is suspenseful and addicting! Absolutely love it!

  18. Susan Longiotti says:

    What is the song in the last scene of the premier show? (I’m on fire for you baby”….??)

  19. Nikki says:

    Hannah is the hottest. Nuff said……..

  20. Ian T. says:

    Hannah Ware actually turned in a fairly impressive perf in the late, largely lamented “Boss” so not exactly a newcomer (but close enough, Brian!)

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