Alert! This is not a review. I repeat, this is not a review. Throw a "p" on that, please, 'cause this is a preview of the early version of a pilot, a pilot that will almost certainly undergo some form of change before it airs in its final form. Consider this a first impression of a work-in-progress.
THE GIST: Marta Walraven (Mitchell) lives a cushy life with her husband and three kids in Northern California, a life that's funded by some not-so-legal activities on her husband's part. But when her husband is killed after a deal gone sour, Marta is forced to work in organized crime to pay off a debt and protect her family.
SNAP JUDGMENT: Surprise, surprise. Another ABC show about a strong, central female character. But this one feels more like the housewife-turned-badass of Missing (without the plane chasing) than the soapy, backstabbing delight of Revenge. I'm trying to figure out how to differentiate Red Widow from a bigger-budget Lifetime movie, and if come up with any I'll let you know. The pilot is pretty much an origin story, so it's hard to get a grip on what the rest of the series will be like. Until then, Red Widow is the kind of beach-reading page-turner that stokes bored housewives' fantasies when Fabio and 50 Shades of Grey aren't doing the trick.
PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: Red Widow, are you sitting down? Good. Because I have bad news: You have a serious case of pilotitis. But it isn't terminal! It was almost necessary, in fact, to set up the emotional weight of the story. However, the pilot is pretty much just a detailed retelling of the logline with zero surprises.
FACE(S) TO LOOK OUT FOR: Oddly enough, the most compelling actor in the pilot is Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels), who plays Marta's husband. And we all know what happens to his character. Maybe he'll show up in flashbacks?
RANDOM THOUGHT(S): It really feels like we've seen this show before.
EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Ehhh, not feeling like this will be anything but an easy-on-the-brain distraction. This is only bouncing the needle to about a 4 out of 10 on the excite-o-meter.
Red Widow is set to be a midseason entry for ABC sometime in 2013. It currently has an eight-episode order.