Tricia Helfer plays a female Texas ranger in ABC's by-the-numbers imported drama format
Unlike a lot of rail-thin actresses cast as cops on TV, the statuesque Tricia Helfer (a 6-foot-tall former model) at least looks like she might be able to take down a suspect. And the former “Battlestar Galactica” thesp’s appeal will be put to the test by “Killer Women,” an ABC drama that casts her as a Texas Ranger trying to right wrongs and catch bad guys in a world of chauvinistic modern cowboys. Shot with more style than the premise suggests (and counting “Modern Family’s” Sofia Vergara among its producers), “Women” is mindless fun, perhaps, but unlikely to make a killing.
Establishing what’s meant to feel like a Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino vibe, the series opens with a beautiful woman in a slinky red dress (guest Nadine Velazquez) strutting into a church and gunning down the bride. Of course, the plot runs a little deeper than that, since the victim is a district attorney, so simple revenge or jealousy won’t quite do.
As she investigates the case, Helfer’s Molly Parker immediately steps on toes while running through a string of encounters that includes her estranged husband (Jeffrey Nordling), sometimes sex partner/DEA agent (Marc Blucas) and brother (fellow “Galactica” alum Michael Trucco).
Adapted by Hannah Shakespeare (“The Raven”) from an Argentine series, the pilot makes a point of noting that Molly is a former beauty queen (why not state the obvious?), but the show can’t sustain the border-town atmosphere, eventually giving way to a rather hasty showdown with a surprisingly inept drug cartel. While the premise might appear to be plumbing some of the same culture-clash depths as FX’s “The Bridge,” in other words, it mostly settles for being an old-fashioned procedural — Rizzoli, as it were, minus the Isles.
Rangers, we’re told, “support other agencies when they lack resources,” which pretty much will give Molly the run of the Lone Star state. Yet while Helfer’s character has plenty of interesting qualities — tough, sexy, impulsive — she finds herself in a show that initially appears short on assets, on a night where ABC’s fall strategy has already proved underwhelming, including its dice roll on previous timeslot occupant “Lucky 7.”
Given all that, “Killer Women” should arrive on the beat armed with modest expectations, inasmuch as just staying alive looks like a tall order.
TV Review: 'Killer Women'
(Series; ABC, Tues. Jan. 7, 10 p.m.)
Filmed in Texas by Latin WE and Electus in association with ABC Studios.
Executive producers, Hannah Shakespeare, Ed Zuckerman, Sofia Vergara, Martin Campbell, Ben Silverman, Luis Balaguer, Lawrence Trilling; co-executive producers, Melissa Escobar, Jimmy Fox, Lucienne Papon; producer, Robert D. Simon; director, Trilling; writer, Shakespeare; based on the Argentine series “Mujeres Asesinas;” camera, Patrick Cady; production designer, Cary White; editor, Tad Dennis; music, Mark Kilian; casting, Mary Jo Slater. 60 MIN.
Tricia Helfer, Marc Blucas, Marta Milans, Michael Trucco, Alex Fernandez, Jeffrey Nordling, Nadine Velazquez.