Ashley Judd has returned to her butt-kicking ways, but this time she's going to do it every week on TV. When ABC's new drama Missing premieres Thursday (8/7c), viewers will encounter the actress in a role that will seem familiar to fans of her big-screen thrillers, including Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, High Crimes and Twisted. In a sense, they helped pave the way for Judd to play Missing's Becca Winstone, a florist and former CIA agent whose teenage son Michael (Nick Eversman) goes missing in Italy. (OK, so it also borrows a lot from Liam Neeson's Taken.)
Here's the breakdown of how Missing follows the 5 rules of all Ashley Judd thrillers:
1. Becca is driven by a noble cause. Sure, Judd may have played characters who wanted to save other kidnap victims (Kiss the Girls) or her husband (High Crimes), but isn't being a parent the noblest calling of all? As in Double Jeopardy, motherhood is what stokes Becca's fires, and we dare any parent not to be moved, first when she realizes that something has happened to Michael, and later as her attempts to save him are thwarted.
2. Becca's pretty, she's tough. She's pretty damn tough. In Kiss the Girls, Judd played a young woman who escaped from a serial kidnapper, jumped off a cliff and survived to help with the police investigation. That's resilience! Judd's also been a cop (Twisted) and a high-powered attorney (High Crimes), both women who are undeterred in the face of danger. Similarly, on Missing, Becca doesn't sit around and wring her hands, but instead books a plane to Italy to track down Michael herself. As a former CIA operative with an arsenal of skills and resources, expect to see Becca engage in hand-to-hand combat, get shot at and scale buildings, all while looking artfully disheveled doing it.
3. The odds against Becca are kind of ridiculous. Even with some help, Judd's film characters always appeared to be overmatched, considering all the serial killers, conspiracies and lying going on. What's an upstanding woman to do? Not give up! Missing's Becca is only one woman, and apparently she left the CIA a persona non grata, which doesn't make her quest to find her son any easier. In fact, she'll often find herself fighting to save her own life before she can get on with the business of saving Michael's. Who's behind all this and what do they have against a happy mother-son reunion?
4. Becca's biggest allies are often gruff, platonic guy friends. Can we request Morgan Freeman to make a guest-starring turn right now? In both Kiss the Girls and High Crimes, the Oscar winner offered the perfect balance of authority and support without ever making us wonder if there was anything romantic going on. Expect Becca to meet up with an old flame (or two) but the men whom she'll keep around aren't going to be boyfriends. Instead, they'll be useful in helping her locate Michael. We start with Agent Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis), who acts as the Deputy Chief of the Western European CIA station. This rule will prove especially convenient since in each of the 10 episodes, Becca's search will take place in a different European city.
5. Betrayal is a constant threat. Without giving away any movie spoilers (in case you decide to have an Ashley Judd thriller marathon), let's just say that we wouldn't fault her film protagonists for having trust issues. Of course, double crosses, uncertain alliances and dirty deals are the norm in undercover work, so Missing will have its share of betrayals. It's been 10 years since Becca was in the field -- has this florist lost her touch or will she be able to determine friend from foe?
Check out TVGuide.com's interview with Judd and Curtis:
Missing airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.