Family ties survive loose ends
TRed Widow ELEVISION is adapting to the changing ways of viewing and the changing attitudes of viewers. This is especially noticeable when it comes to the traditional life span of an American TV season.
A series developed for American free-toair television has a run of 22 episodes or so.
But the networks hedge their bets by sometimes ordering an initial, limited run of episodes, waiting to see if the program is embraced before giving the go-ahead towrite and produce more.
Only a handful of series wins over viewers each year, so there’s an awful lot of shows out there with storylines and plot threads left dangling.
Some shows have their writers working overtime to tie up loose ends when it becomes clear the end is nigh. This is both a blessing and a curse.
Sure, it’d be great to enjoy an ongoing series. But if it does have to end, there’s at least some small sense of resolution.
The enjoyable soapy crime drama Red Widow, airing on Channel 7 and regional affiliate Prime7, didn’t set the world on fire when it premiered in the US this year and had only an eight-episode run.
When the final episode aired, you could sense the series frantically juggling a number of balls while calculating the best way to let each of them fall to the ground.
The result is a short-lived, satisfying and only slightly muddled story of dysfunctional, blood-stained family ties.
Marta (Australia’s Radha Mitchell) has crime in her blood. The daughter of a fearsome Russian mobster, she has, for the most part, managed to avoid her family’s law-breaking lifestyle by marrying Evan (Anson Mount) and starting a family.
Evan’s not exactly squeaky-clean – he uses his boats to smuggle marijuana – but he’s hardly a hardened crim. But when he’s unfairly implicated in the theft of drugs distributed by ruthless gangster Schiller (Goran Visnjic), he’s shot dead.
What’s worse, Schiller now expects Marta to make good on what he believes he is owed and so she’s drawn into a murky underworld where few people on either side of the law are willing to play by the rules.
However, Marta may have a knack for this sort of thing. Mitchell is very strong in the lead, bringing plenty of conviction and emotion to the role, and she’s given strong support by fellow Aussie Wil Traval ( All Saints) as her ne’er-do-well brother. ER star Visnjic is the standout, making Schiller undeniably dangerous, but strangely charming and courteous.
It’s pretty pulpy stuff – although it is involving and undemanding. This will not have you on the edge of your seat, but it’ll certainly engage your interest.
Red Widow: Mondays, 9.30pm, Seven, Prime7.
The cast of
includes Radha Mitchell (centre)