Pilot Perception: Red Widow

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Red Widow, ABC in the U.S. and CTV Two in Canada, Sundays at 10/9c

Note: The pilot and second episode aired back to back last night, so this takes both into account.

The Pedigree: Red Widow is based on a Dutch series, Penoza, created by Pieter Bart Korthuis. The pilot was written by Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight), who executive produces along with Howard Klein (The Office, Parks and Rec) and Alon Aranya. The pilot was directed by Mark Pellington (Cold Case) and the second episode by Daniel Sackheim (The X-Files, Lie to Me).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Radha Mitchell (Melinda and Melinda) stars. Other regulars include Sterling Beauman (Lost), Clifton Collins Jr. (The Event), Luke Goss (One Night with the King), Suleka Mathew (Hawthorne), Erin Moriarty (One Life to Live), Jaime Ray Newman (Eureka), Jakob Salvati (Mad Men), Rade Serbedzija (24), Lee Tergesen (Army Wives), Wil Traval (All Saints), and Goran Visnjic (ER).

The Premise: After Marta’s husband is murdered, she’s drawn back into the world of organized crime in which she grew up.

A Taste:

What Works: I liked the complicated but realistic-seeming family dynamics and the moral ambiguity of most of the characters. The child and teenagers in the family were flawed but likeable, which was a nice break from TV kids who are either perfect and precocious or horrifically annoying. (Or both.) Marta is a compelling lead character, and the premise of the show provides enough explanation for me to buy into her taking up criminal activities but feeling conflicted about it.

What Doesn’t: The pilot is mostly set-up, and it’s pretty slow, so it’s good that they aired the second episode right after it to get a better taste for what the show will be like each week. It seems like the show will be fairly slow overall, which is okay if it stays intense but could easily tip over to boring. Some of the characters were difficult to keep straight at the beginning, especially with all of the double-crossing going on. And in general, this show was fine and enjoyable but didn’t wow me.

Our Favorite Line: “Strength is overrated. I can hire people to lift things.”

You Might Like This if you like mob stories and family dramas. The focus on a woman raised in a mob family with a foot in each world reminded me of The Mob Doctor (which isn’t a bad thing – I liked The Mob Doctor!). And I’ve seen a few people compare the show to Weeds, but I haven’t seen that one so can’t say whether or not I agree.

If You’re Interested: you can watch the first two episodes now at Hulu or the ABC or CTV sites. Then set your DVR for Sunday at 10/9c!

(Photo courtesy of ABC.)

One thought on “Pilot Perception: Red Widow

  1. I’ve been encountering mixed reviews on this show and I don’t really know how to take that. I’m looking for a brand new show to sink my teeth into that won’t be canceled in three or four weeks and I was hoping that this would be it. Based on your review it looks like it definitely has the potential to be a great show and I did see two previews in my office last week that made it seem good. I really like that the network aired two episodes because it doesn’t make it feel like you’re left hanging at the end of the pilot.

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