Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Death and the Russian Mafia—Red Widow

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  We’re currently down to the very last of the new shows premiering this TV season, but Amber West and I still have our work cut out for us—especially since she doesn’t have cable and my DVR crashed.  Regardless, we’ll make it work.

And speaking of making it work… we have had so much fun posting dual reviews this season, we’ve decided to keep going.  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching the ABC new mob-based drama, Red Widow?

Life is great for housewife and mother Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell from Silent Hill and The Crazies)—she lives a very comfortable life, has a nice house and lavish things, and a beautiful family complete with a doting husband and spoiled children.  It’s not until her husband is murdered and the FBI comes knocking that she begins questioning her family’s business… of crime.   Will she resort to her family’s ways, something she’s personally steered clear of until now, or will she join forces with the authorities investigating her family?  One thing’s certain—she will avenge her husband’s death and protect her children at all costs.

First of all, I couldn’t help but think during the first twenty minutes of the pilot that it was a shame that Evan Walraven (Anson Mount, Hell on Wheels) had to die.  With his long hair tied back into a ponytail and his salt and pepper beard, he was nice to look at.  Plus, his character attracted me from a more compelling standpoint as well.  Despite the fact he was a mobster, he appeared to have scruples and wanted to stay away from bad business deals as much as possible.  He loved his family and was willing to do anything to keep them safe.

See her face in this picture? That’s about how I feel about the character of Marta…

The same can’t be said about his wife, Marta.  Not only did Marta welcome Evan into her family when she married him, she’s technically the one responsible for his life of crime.  Yet, this woman is clueless; delusional, really.  She has no idea what it means to truly “get out,” or if it’s even possible.  She thinks her husband can just stop, but he can’t.  If she wants to live a life free from her family’s business, they will have to leave everyone and everything behind.

Now enters the predictability…  Evan agrees to Marta’s ultimatum, they make love, and he’s shot and killed the next morning in their driveway.  We knew he was going to die from the premise of the story, but some of the dialogue was just so weak that I actually rolled my eyes.

But back to the story…

After her husband’s death, Marta hesitantly jumps in where her he left off.  Again, she’s delusional… thinking she can do this one job (correct her brother’s mistakes, that he has so conveniently blame on her dead husband) and move on.  Even the most naïve person knows the mob doesn’t work that way.  But this is television, so let’s not hold it to too high a standard; otherwise, how will it be entertaining?

So, in addition to coping with the loss of her beloved, helping her children heal (especially the little one who witnessed the shooting and has buried the memories), fixing her brother’s bad deal (that she thinks is her husband’s fault), trying to deliver what her brother stole from the bad guy (Nicholae Schiller, played by Goran Visnjic from ER), and cooperating at a very low level with the FBI, Marta seems like a woman who has her act together.

I like Goran Visnjic’s portrayal of the super-bad bad guy so much more than the woman I am supposed to be rooting for…

But she doesn’t.  Not in the least.  And sadly, I don’t feel sorry for her.  I simply don’t like the character.  It’s for this reason that I can’t help but award Red Widow with the NIV rating.  I will watch it, mainly because it’s only something like eight episodes long… but I won’t jump into the program twenty minutes after its start time like I do with shows like Revenge (so I can skip commercials and end “live” so the online chats don’t spoil the episode for me).  Instead, I’ll catch up with Marta and her mess when there’s nothing better on or when I’m looking for something to listen to while I’m falling asleep.

I really wanted to like this television series.  Not only is Red Widow produced and written by Melissa Rosenberg, the head writer behind the first four seasons of Dexter AND the woman responsible for the Twilight franchise screenplays, but also because I love stories about the mob.  Heck, I’ve only stayed up-to-date with General Hospital over the years because I love the mafia storylines.  But there is just something missing here…

Oh, and the new series also stars a few very familiar faces:  Clifton Collins Jr. (The Event) as FBI Agent James Ramos; Luke Goss (the Death Race movies) as Luther; Suleka Mathew (Hawthorne) as Dina Tomlin; Jaime Ray Newman (Eastwick and Eureka) as Kat Castillo; Lee Tergesen (Oz and Generation Kill) as Mike Tomlin; and Rade Serbedzija (24) as Andrei Petrov.

But it’s still not enough.  A part of me can’t help but think 666 Park Avenue was cancelled to partner Red Widow with Revenge on Sunday nights… I can see how a drama series like this might work better with Emily and her vengeance, but the residents at the sinister apartment building attracted me far more than Marta has after three hours.  And it’s a shame to think ABC yanked Zero Hour after only three episodes and is leaving this on… but that’s only my opinion.

What do you think?  Have you watched Red Widow?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the new ABC series.  Did we agree or disagree?  Trust me; we usually have very different tastes in our television viewing pleasure….

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

5 Replies to “Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Death and the Russian Mafia—Red Widow”

  1. I bailed out shortly after the husband died, so, half an hour into the pilot? I had no emotional connection to anyone. From what I read, it’s all but certain to be cancelled, but the rest of the episodes will air.

    1. You know I love TV, but not this one. Considering ABC cancelled Zero Hour after three episodes, I’d be really disappointed to not see this show receive the same fate. Although… I did hear ABC will air the rest of Zero Hour in June (from a pretty reliable source). So that makes me happy with at least some of the network’s decision making skills.

  2. I commented on Amber’s blog but I feel guilty not leaving one here too :-p. I do read them both, and I love this two-take approach on a show. And from both of these reviews I know I won’t bother watching this one. Wish TV execs would stop trying to pair genres and look more for a good story.

  3. This one has a good shot at winding up in the sh****er. It has potential but it’s going to take a lot of work. Writers get bored, characters outlive their usefulness and generally stuff happens.

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