We are still some time away from knowing the first, if any, casualties of the winter season as new series pop up across the television landscape, but after its pilot episode, ABC’s ‘Killer Women’ is sure to make it on the short list.
The Sofía Vergara-produced and Tricia Helfer-starring light drama about a savvy and sexy Texas Ranger is immediately familiar and forgettable, with little to say, and nothing new to share. The fact that Vergara, who stares on ABC’s hit sitcom ‘Modern Family,’ is being touted on every ‘Killer Women,’ promo certainly lends pause, suggesting there isn’t much compelling to add.
It’s true, and ‘Killer Women’ may soon be dead and gone.
Helfer, whose fervid cult-following from ‘Battlestar Galactica’ probably won’t help out here, plays Molly Parker, a soon-to-be-divorced Ranger who often goes rogue, breaks the rules, and understands women better than her obtuse male counterparts. Off the top, she confronts men in the professional world who are implicitly sexest and wary of this tall, gorgeous, jeans-wearing lawwoman.
In the pilot, ‘La Sicaria,’ which premieres tonight (Jan. 7) on ABC at 10/9c, Parker and her colleagues tackle a case of murder, even though during the episode Parker admits to working on 15 cases at once (see, she is a busy and dedicated woman). ‘La Sicaria’ (the title is in fact the most clever part of the show; it’s Spanish for ‘The Hitwoman’) opens as a red-dressed and high-heeled vamp (guest star Nadine Velazquez, not given enough to do here) nonchalantly breaks up a wedding before its pivotal moment, shooting and killing the bride – an Assistant District Attorney – with her blood splaying her almost-husband.
It’s a crime of passion, or at least that is the initial assumption. Parker – and only Parker – thinks something far more complex is going on that just a “jealous lady on the loose.” Once in custody, the suspect, Martina Alvarez, issues a rote line: “He told me he was leaving her…we would run away together.”
Parker responds, however. “My training and my instinct tell me you weren’t having an affair," she says in one of the more laughable lines in a perfunctory script written by Hannah Shakespeare (no relation).
It’s these sorts of tropes that ‘Killer Women’ tries and fails to subvert and complicate. There seems little to Parker that isn’t blatantly thrown at the viewer; it’s a color-by-numbers character. She has men around her that look down at her, including a smarmy husband from whom is she is trying to divorce; there is a steamy romance ongoing with a DEA Agent (“We can’t keep doing this,” she says in the processing of disrobing and embracing); she has an overprotective brother, crazy sister-in-law, and impressionable niece; Parker looks as attractive and comfortable in boots and jeans as she does in heels and an evening gown.
Giving way to a short and ludicrous yet explosive finale, ‘Killer Women’ is casual and cookie-cutter, lacking tension, authenticity, drama, and laughs for that matter. Helfer is certainly a compelling presence, but this role is far too simple, and simply boring, and there is even less interesting around her. There is a brief car chase, a gun battle, and a trip to Mexico, but everything is painted with such broad, generic strokes that nothing stands out.
Ultimately, there are plenty of other shows where one can find a complex, smart, beautiful, and tough woman (or women) in a leading role (‘The Americans,’ ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Orphan Black,’ among others). What’s more, if you’re looking for some southern justice, where the locale actually itself plays a key role in the proceedings, then check out ‘Justified,’ which conveniently returns for a fifth season the same night at the same time.
So watch that instead – or anything else.
'Killer Women' premieres Jan. 7 on ABC at 10/9c.