×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Betrayal’

ABC soap falls somewhere between Lifetime movie and perfume ad

With:

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

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.)

Production:

Filmed in Chicago by ABC Studios.

Crew:

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.

Cast:

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

More TV

  • Bristol, CT - March 13, 2017

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • NETFLIX ZERO SHOWRUNNER

    Showrunner Stefano Voltaggio on Netflix's 'Zero' About Black Youths in Italy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix recently announced a new Italian original titled “Zero” that will mark the first Italian series centered around the present-day lives of black Italian youths. “Zero” is based on several books by young writer and TV music show host Antonio Dikele Distefano, who was born in Italy from Angolan parents. The project was originated by [...]

  • Content-is-King

    Top TV Execs Tackle New Distribution Landscape in Rome

    ROME – In an increasingly complex TV market, with a host of new big-ticket streaming services preparing to enter an already crowded arena, both buyers and sellers are rethinking some of the fundamentals of the TV business as they grapple with the best way to reach global audiences. A host of top producers, network executives, [...]

  • MIA-MARKET-2019_Europe-Producers-Club_4

    European Producers and Broadcasters Debate How to Weather Streaming Storm

    ROME – The impending rollout of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other new streaming services promises a new era of uncertainty—and opportunity—for broadcasters and producers in an industry already disrupted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. At a panel hosted by the European Producers Club Friday afternoon during the MIA market in Rome, executives [...]

  • Kevin-Beggs

    Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

    ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content