Think of it as "One Mean Mother," or "Ashley Judd Has Her Run of Europe."
While watching Missing (ABC, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET/PT; ** out of four) may lead you to question Judd's judgment when it comes to scripts, when it comes to location shoots her tastes are clearly impeccable. Cast as ex-CIA agent Becca Winstone, a single mother on the hunt for her kidnapped son, Judd is on the run though many of Europe's most beautiful cities — dashing through Rome, Paris, Berlin and Dubrovnik in just the first four episodes.
But it's not all hoofing and heavy breathing. In between the scattered dialogue and occasional crying jag, Becca sees all sorts of action. There are explosions, motorcycle chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat and narrow escapes aplenty.
Which leads to another question. Shouldn't a woman who, we're told, has "basically spent the last 10 years in the PTA" have a bit more trouble getting back into the spy game? Five minutes after finding out her son is missing in Rome, she's right back in the swim of things: re-earthing old contacts, hacking into security cameras, shouting down CIA superiors and disposing of bad guys.
Unfortunately for Missing, a supremely silly series that takes itself incredibly seriously, her skill set is one of many reasons that the show is virtually suspense-free, the others being that most adult viewers will have seen all the movies it cribs from. Let's just say that no matter how fast Becca runs, most of the time you'll still be ahead of her.
Becca is not alone in her search for her son, Michael (nicely played by Nick Eversman). She has an old friend from Interpol (Adriano Giannini) and a new ally from the CIA (Cliff Curtis). She also has the occasional aid of a retired CIA agent (the always welcome Keith Carradine), who mentored her and her husband (Sean Bean) — who is presumed dead by Becca, if not by many in the viewing public.
Judd is certainly a game action star. But like many Hollywood stars her age, male and female, a certain plasticity has seeped in that damages both the character and her abilities as an actor. Whether through natural or artificial means, her face often appears to be immobile. And beyond the distractions, which include wondering how it can be possible that Becca has fewer wrinkles than her son, it limits her performance range.
The scenery is pretty, though, and it's not supposed to move. You'll have to decide if that's enough.