Killer Women Season 1 Ep 1 (TV Show Review)
The Fall 2013 season has been quite good for television programming, what with Arrow returning for an awesome second season and the launch of new shows like Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow which have been really good so far from all that I’ve seen. Agents of SHIELD has been the only down-kicker, of all the new stuff I’ve seen in the last few months. Joining the line-up of good shows returning for the second half of their new (or debut, as appropriate) seasons is ABC’s Killer Women, a show seemingly styled along the likes of Chuck Norris’ classic Texas Ranger, except with a female protagonist, which is pretty damn great.
Tricia Helfer, of Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice, Tron: Uprising and Two And A Half Men fame among others, plays the lead character Molly Parker. Molly is a Texas Ranger, newly minted and she’s a tough no-nonsense individual who goes on instincts more than she does protocol. The series premiere was broadcast earlier this week and I’d say that its off to a good start. Sure, there are some cliches here, but I wouldn’t condemn the show just on the pilot. I’ll give it my Agents of SHIELD treatment, give it until a mid-season mark or something before deciding whether to stick with or drop it. But right now, I’m definitely sticking with it.
A few years ago, there was a Bollywood murder-mystery with a cop as a protagonist. The story was originally written for a male actor, but was later tweaked when top actress Sushmita Sen (who has worked in a number of great movies, especially comedies, and was Miss Universe 1994, India’s first claim to the title) was brought in as the lead. I found this entire reveal to be quite fascinating and is one of the reasons why I like Samay (Time), although the movie had quite a few story issues. Still, its stuck in my mind as something different and unique in Bollywood because of that very reveal.
The reason that I shared that tidbit is because that’s how I look at Killer Women with Tricia Helfer. The show feels like it was written with a male protagonist in mind, but was tweaked to work with a female protagonist. That’s not the reality though since the show is an American adaptation (a loose adaptation at that) of an Argentinian show with a story along similar line, involving female characters through and through. And it has Hannah Shakespeare behind it, who is noted for her scripts and story editing on The Raven and Bionic Woman. And it has as executive producer (one of) Sofia Vergara, who stars in the hit family drama Modern Family. So there’s a lot of female-power going for the show and with Tricia involved, there’s definitely a sense of the show expected to be ABC’s next big thing, given that Tricia has starred in some great roles over the years, in all sorts of genres and has even done a lot of voicework for superhero animated shows and for video games as well, StarCraft II comes to mind for the latter.
The story of the pilot involves a supposedly jilted lover who murders the wife of the man she loved while the two of them are exchanging their wedding vows. To the San Antonio Police Department, it is an open-and-shut case, but Ranger Molly Parker has other ideas and since she’s been brought in by the DA’s office to keep things together, she goes all-out to find the real truth.
A common problem with female characters in television (or any other entertainment media) is the sexualisation, especially that which is gratuitous through and through and serves absolutely zero purpose for the story or for anything else in the show. With Killer Women, there is no such thing thankfully. Sure, there’s a sexual foreplay scene with Tricia’s Molly Parker and Marc Blucas’ Dan Winston in which they both get naked before going all the way, but that’s really about it. For me, Molly Parker’s sexuality and her personal life were dealt with respect and were balanced well against all the action in the pilot, and there was a hell of a lot of action involved here.
The prominence of nudity and sex in mainstream television programming has really come to a peak in recent times thanks to HBO’s Game of Thrones and its soaring popularity, not to mention some of the older shows like True Blood which have often gone all-out with it or the titillation often offered by Battlestar Galactica, but Killer Women appears to be a show that toes the line between natural happenstance and gratuitous. Which is great, and I’m all for it. I expect a certain amount of nudity and sex in a show, but as long as it is limited and is not there just for tittilation, I’m fine with it.
Given that Molly Parker is in the same situation that a character like James T. Kirk or James Bond would be in, and is a sort of spiritual successor of those kinds of characters, the show giving us some nudity and sex is fine.
And what matters is that none of it takes away from the acting. Tricia Helfer is a brilliant actress, as she has shown in the past in the various shows of hers that I’ve seen and she definitely takes the stage in this pilot. Whether she is wearing a cocktail dress at a party or her work-clothes as a Texas Ranger, she always looks and acts the part. There are only a few hints of a Texan accent in her voice, but since I don’t really have a good ear for such things, that’s not a complaint I hold against the pilot. She nevertheless has the panache and intensity required of her for the show and she does great in every scene she is in, whether it requires her to shoot at drug cartel goons or have a back-and-forth with her brother and niece.
Marc Blucas’ Dan Winston gets a few scenes, mostly in the second half, and its great to see him get such a good, action-oriented role. It fits him, and he too has the intensity that it requires of him. Partnered up with Tricia’s character, the two of them have an immediate chemistry that shows through, and it is good to see that.
There are some other actors who also turn in a good performance, given their cameo-level roles, like Michael Trucco’s Billy Parker (another Battlestar Galactica alum like Tricia and just as good), Marta Milans as Billy’s wife Becca, Alex Fernandez as Molly’s boss Lieutenant Luis Zea, Jeffrey Nordling as Molly’s husband and Texas Senator Jake Colton, and others. Nordling was a bit wooden, but decent enough, so I’m giving him a pass for now.
As I said earlier, there are some cliches that the pilot doesn’t avoid, or rather that the show doesn’t. While Molly Parker comes off as a really interesting character from the get go, she has a very basic backstory that is a cliche. Dedicated cop, instincts and hunches over procedure, somewhat estranged from family, husband she hates etc. All that’s missing right now, I’d say, is an alcohol problem. And I didn’t like that despite being a good, capable Texas Ranger, someone who does believe in justice, still breaks the rules and laws when it suits her. Such as her infidelity with Dan Winston or something else that happens in the second half and is a crucial plot development.
I get that such problems could be laid at the feet of Kirk and Bond and others of their ilk as well, particularly since I mentioned that Molly is sort of their spiritual successor, but I still find it all to be quite odd. The show’s writers (Hannah Shakespeare is credited for the first two episodes with Jason Ning coming on for the third) have their work cut out for them to really develop Molly beyond such limitations and give her something unique.
And the pilot did have a slight pacing problem, but nothing that’s major thankfully. Overall I am quite satisfied with the pilot and I will definitely be tuning in for the second episode next week.
Posted on January 12, 2014, in Killer Women, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged ABC, Crime, Crime Drama, Drama, Female Characters, Female Protagonists, Hannah Shakespeare, Jeffrey Nordling, Killer Women, Law Enforcement, Marc Blucas, Michael Trucco, Molly Parker, Mystery, Procedural, Sofia Vergara, Suspense Thriller, Texas, Texas Rangers, Tricia Helfer. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.