“Missing” The Complete First Season isn’t a well oiled machine compared with other serialized dramas and I suspect if it weren’t a mid-season replacement and only 10-episodes, not to mention starring Ashley Judd, this wouldn’t have been picked up in the first place. Even so, because it’s a short series plus a fantastic cast, it’s worth checking out even with a cliffhanger ending.
Genre(s): Mystery, Suspense, Drama
Buena Vista | TV14 – 430 min. – $39.99 | June 12, 2012
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): Gregory Poirier (created by)
Cast: Ashley Judd, Sean Bean, Cliff Curtis, Adriano Giannini, Nick Eversman, Laura Donnelly, Keith Carradine
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
** This review contains spoilers. **
There’s nothing that pisses me off the most than a show I enjoy, especially a serialized one, which gets cancelled. Obviously it’s a business decision but when said series decides to end the season with a cliffhanger and then gets the axe, I get angrier at the writers for even assuming there’d be a second season; although perhaps they had hoped it would lead to a mew season.
“Missing” stars Ashley Judd as Becca Winstone, a sweet mother who works as a florist in a quaint, small town. When the series opens, we get a prologue taking place 10 years earlier as Becca’s husband, Paul (SEAN BEAN) and son, Michael, are in Vienna when Paul’s car suddenly explodes killing Paul, though Michael wasn’t in the car and instead his father sent him back into a building to retrieve a soccer ball left behind.
We fast forward ten years and now Michael (NICK EVERSMAN) is all grown up and Becca is a single mother. After a race in the woods, Michael reveals that he’s been accepted into a prestigious architecture school… in Vienna. At first she’s hesitant but eventually allows him to go. At first things are fine as he’s calling every day but soon the calls completely stop and she begins to worry finally taking a flight to Austria, trying to retrace her son’s steps, beginning with the last place she last spoke to Michael at (he had sent her a photo). While searching the apartment someone else enters and a full-on, and brutal (but television standards) fight begins and we learn that Becca isn’t all that she’s seems to be. After the fight is over, leaving the man dead, Becca flees still trying to get on her son’s trail.
Meanwhile, we find out Becca was in fact at one time a CIA operative and the agency isn’t too keen having someone like her out and about tearing up the countryside. On the case to find Becca is Agent Dax Miller (CLIFF CURTIS), a company man who is on the rise within the agency. He and his team try to learn all they can about Becca as well as her husband, Paul.
Now Becca must uncover the mystery and possible conspiracy of who took her son, why they did and try to keep on the trail before it grows cold all the while sometimes being chased, sometimes being helped and then being chased once again by the Miller and the CIA who don’t want a former operative running loose in Europe. Becca also receives help from an ex-lover and Interpol agent named Giancarlo Rossi (ADRIANO GIANNINI).
Admittedly, I don’t normally like serialized shows mainly because you have to watch each and every episode in order to follow the plot; miss one episode and you feel lost. However, being “Missing” was a mid-season replacement and ran for only 10-episodes, I decided to give it a shot.
While it’s not the most slick series I’ve come across as it looks a bit amateurish in its direction, the show is certainly propelled to be far better than the material provides with a stellar and talented cast. Ashley Judd is, as always, excellent and provides an immediate emotional connection; Sean Bean, in his 5 or 6 episodes, gives the show a nice boost even when the story plods along; Nick Everson playing the missing son is a bit iffy but his side-story begins to grow on you especially paired with the lovely Tereza Voriskova as a fellow kidnapee; and Cliff Curtis is such an underrated actor and is probably the best of the bunch being able to play both in an adversarial and friendly role, depending on what the script calls for (and no matter how inane his character might act).
Speaking of the story, it does meander somewhat but gets back on track fairly quickly. I am glad it was only 10 episodes because I’d be hard pressed to imagine how they could stretch such an artificially complicated storyline into 20+ episodes. Still, throughout its short run, I did manage to enjoy “Missing” but more for the acting than any technical aspects, despite the series being filmed overseas.
Story issues aside, the biggest drawback for this series was something out of their control: a cliffhanger season finale. I wish all freshmen (and even sophomore shows) that aren’t assured another season should at the very least shoot an alternate ending just in case it’s not picked up. They can still air the cliffhanger ending but for the DVD offer viewers the choice to either watch the episode with the alt. ending or merely provide it in the deleted scenes section; it’d offer closure to fans that devoted the time to watching. For this alone, I docked a half a star…
Episodes (asterisks denote favorites of mine):
02. The Hard Drive*
03. Ice Queen
04. Tell Me No Lies*
05. The Three Bears
06. A Busy Solitude
07. Measure of a Man*
10. Rain on the Evil and on the Good
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
This release comes with a glossy, slightly title-embossed, slip cover.
Missing in Action (16:05) is a featurette that covers how the series got created from the perspectives of the cast (including Ashley Judd) and crew. They discuss how they wanted to make a television series “for the world” shooting in Europe. Along with interviews we also get some behind-the-scenes footage as they film various scenes.
On Location: Inside Istanbul (32:39) – This is a well detailed featurette focusing on filming in Istanbul for 29 scenes in 11 locations over the course of 7 days. It covers the logistics of shooting in the country and provides more behind-the-scenes footage with members of the cast and crew.
Deleted Scenes (6:33) – Only 7 scenes didn’t make the cut, probably due to time constraints, and unfortunately there is no alternate ending for the finale…
VIDEO – 4.0/5
“Missing”: The Complete First Season is presented in its original anamorphic widescreen and is mostly on par with other TV on DVD releases. There’s your usual minor artifacts and pixilation here and there but that’s to be expected but all in all, it’s a bright looking picture with decent black levels.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t quite as strong but all things considered, it’s good enough for most people. The dialogue levels do sound crisp and clear but since there is a fair amount of action in this show, that’s where the track is more on the lackluster side as there’s not as much depth during such scenes. That being said, I thought it’s a nice track that is satisfying enough.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, “Missing” The Complete First Season isn’t a well oiled machine compared with other serialized dramas and I suspect if it weren’t a mid-season replacement and only 10-episodes, not to mention starring Ashley Judd, this wouldn’t have been picked up in the first place. Even so, because it’s a short series plus a fantastic cast, it’s worth checking out even with a cliffhanger ending.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman