The new mob drama Red Widow debuting this weekend is headed by the talented Radha Mitchell.
The Silent Hill star plays Marta Walraven, a wife, mother and avid biker who comes from a Russian crime family. Her husband, played by Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels), is involved in the family business but keeps it at arm's length. When one of her husband's workers gets greedy and throws everyone deeper into the world of crime, there are consequences. Marta becomes a widow and is forced to take over her husband's place in transporting illegal goods.
That is the basic set up introduced in the pilot episode, airing at 9 p.m. EST March 3 (Sunday) on ABC. It's one of those micro stories that fits such a weird niche that this show will most likely suffer the same fate as last year's The Mob Doctor--swift cancellation.
In ABC's mid-season pilot, we are introduced to Mitchell's character as well as her crime dabbling husband who runs a marina and transports drugs. Marta's brother (who also works for the husband) steals a large quantity of drugs from a powerful thug and wants to get into the selling business. He digs everyone in too deep. Meanwhile, for reasons I'll keep hidden, Marta is begging her husband to leave the business and focus on his family.
What saves Widow from being just typical fare is its cast. Mitchell and Mount are especially powerful in their portrayal of a couple whose marriage on the rocks. Their chemistry is so real and heartfelt that when the inevitable death comes in the episode, we feel it more than we expected to. Supporting players like Clifton Collins Jr. also show up and class up the joint.
Where the pilot falters is in its script. While the dialogue and some interactions between characters can have powerful subtlety, the show feels very constrained like it should be working with a longer time frame.
The pilot's set ups and transitions feel rushed, and many moments feel heavy handed and forced. It is not entirely the fault of the writers since they are working with the canvas given to them.
Overall, the first episode of Red Widow is a mixed bag. The cast is superb (lets hope Mount returns in flashback scenes) and there's some great moments in the writing. However, one can feel the writers slashing and chopping and trying to fight against time as they rush out a story that clearly needs to be more fleshed out. The show should find its groove in the coming weeks, assuming it survives that long.