Ellen Gray: In 'Missing,' Ashley Judd stars as a grizzly mom with a CIA past

Posted: March 15, 2012

* MISSING. 8 tonight, 6 ABC.

ASHLEY JUDD and Kiefer Sutherland return to television tonight.

Guess which one's playing Jack Bauer?

Hint: It's not Sutherland. His character in Fox's "Touch" (9 p.m., Fox 29) which reruns the pilot first previewed in January before officially launching as a series next week, is an ex-journalist and the single father of a young son (David Mazouz) with whom he can't communicate.

Judd, who left her last TV series, "Sisters," nearly 18 years ago to pursue a successful movie career, stars in ABC's "Missing," where she plays Becca Winstone, an ex-CIA agent and the mother of a somewhat older son (Nick Eversman) with whom she communicates largely through text message - until he disappears while studying in Rome.

There's action in "Touch," which plays off a seemingly disabled child's gift for making complex connections in a world he barely appears to acknowledge, but it's not at the level of "24."

"Missing," though, is very much the same kind of thrill ride, with Judd playing a widow whose training and instincts kick back in big-time when the only family she has left is threatened.

Maybe she's only out to save her world, not the world, but she's willing to take out half of Europe if it's stupid enough to be the half standing between her and her cub.

Ashley Judd, action star?

I rolled my eyes, too, but over the course of the first four episodes, I got used to the idea.

In return for getting to kick ass in locations from Dubrovnik to Istanbul, Judd's surrendered any claim to subtlety and like Sutherland's in "24" - or Liam Neeson's in "Taken" - her face is permitted to register only a limited number of emotions.

But that's the Faustian bargain most actors make when they take these roles.

Where "Missing" gets interesting - and it does get interesting - is when Becca's son Michael is eventually added to the mix, his captivity a story that marks him as the son of spies, smarter (but no less willful) than the average bear and a far from passive victim.

And then there's Sean Bean as Becca's late CIA agent husband, a man we meet in flashbacks, starting with the one where he's apparently blown to bits.

Ten episodes have been ordered for this season and producers have said there's a plan for a second that would grow from the first.

If that works out, summer might be just long enough to catch your breath.

Bottom line: Yes, you've seen it before. But, hey, you haven't seen it with Ashley Judd.

Pass, DVR or watch in real time?: As a fan of NBC's "Community," which also returns to the schedule at 8 tonight, I'd choose DVR. (Your mileage may vary.)

Contact Ellen Gray at 215-854-5950 or graye@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @elgray. Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.

comments powered by Disqus