Red Widow (ABC) Premiere Advance Review

Red Widow (ABC) Season Premiere Pilot / The Contact (6)

Red Widow is the newest thriller from ABC and from what I’ve seen of the two-hour premiere, I think ABC has a winner on its hands! But will the audience be there?

The show follows a housewife, Marta (Radha Mitchell) who doesn’t realize her husband (Anson Mount) is in trouble with notorious criminal Schiller (Goran Visnjic). After her husband has been murdered, Marta is going to terrible lengths–even working with Schiller, who may or may not have killed her husband–to save herself and keep her family safe.

The premiere is a slow-burn thriller in a lot of ways; we get a lot of set up of how “perfect” Marta’s family is before the tragic events take place. I think that’s key in building up the stakes for the show. Also, the secrets various people are keeping close to the chest (because there are obviously going to be secrets in this type of show) are teased expertly well, I think.

Marta herself is a very smart and resourceful character. You could say she’s got it in her blood–her father seems to be involved in the Russian mafia and her brother Irwin (Wil Traval) is now in jail for his part in the events that led up to her husband’s death. What’s especially great about Marta is that she doesn’t come across as a character who somehow seems to know how to do everything when she shouldn’t, unlike The Mob Doctor‘s character Grace, who was always annoyingly self-assured. Marta looks like someone who has her own mind and untapped skills, but is also learning how to maneuver through the underworld one step at a time. In short, you really feel for her and her also likable ally, her sister Kat (Jamie Ray Newman)

Basically, this series has all the elements going for it – great cast, great idea, tense action – but the real test is if the audience will come. That’s been the real linchpin to many of these shows – will the audience feel they should get invested in a show that will certainly demand a lot of their time, effort and mental space to keep up? As I said, I do think Red Widow is a winner and it could be a real hit for ABC, but the fact of the matter is that tons of shows are on now that demand the same type of commitment Red Widow is demanding. Because there are so many shows like this, audiences either have to choose their shows sparingly, or just get overwhelmed and desensitized to the serial-type show format and tune out altogether. Even I, a once rabid Once Upon a Time fan, just kind of waned out of it and I haven’t really returned, just for the sheer fact of being tired of keeping up with a universe and mythology.

Overall, I hope Red Widow can snag and keep its audience for good; it’s a very smart show and deserves to be on ABC’s roster. But, keep in mind that ABC has already removed Zero Hour, another serial show that barely made its mark. Meanwhile, The Neighbors, an episodic show that many people expected to be off the air by now, is still going strong.

Red Widow will have its two-hour premiere tonight, March 3rd, at 9pm on ABC.