Fam­ily ties sur­vive loose ends

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

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)

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