“Red Widow“ premieres tonight on ABC at 9 p.m. ET (2-hour premiere), and moves to its regular timeslot next Sunday, March 10 at 10 p.m. ET. I talked with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg this week and will post that in a separate story, but wanted to tell you a bit about the show, which is a different take on the mob stories we’ve seen in the past.
“Red Widow” has a good lead-in with “Once Upon a Time,” but it’s on opposite “The Good Wife,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “The Walking Dead,” “Girls,” and The History Channel’s miniseries, “The Bible.” In other words, the cast and crew of “Red Widow” are going to have to act and write and produce and promote the heck out of this show to score an audience, but I’m pulling for them, because it’s really entertaining and well done, and also because it puts a female front and center in a mob story, which is awesome.
Radha Mitchell stars as Marta Walraven, a stay-at-home mom in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. She seems to have it all and is living what appears to be a perfect life with her husband and three kids in their gorgeous house. Of course, there’s more to the story.
We learn right away that Marta grew up in a family that had issues with the laws by which most of us live. Her dad, Andrei Petrov (Rade Serbedzija), and his loyal bodyguard, Luther (Luke Goss), are Bratva – Russian gangsters – enmeshed in organized crime in San Francisco. Marta and her sister Kat (Jaime Ray Newman) have never wanted that life and tried to distance themselves from it as much as possible.
But when Marta’s pot-exporting husband Evan (Anson Mount from AMC’s “Hell on Wheels”) is brutally murdered in front of their young son Boris (Jakob Salvati), things quickly get complicated for Marta.
Her brother Irwin (Wil Traval) worked with Evan and wanted to expand their drug business. To that end, Irwin decided to heist a large shipment of cocaine from bad guy extraordinaire Nicholae Schiller (Gorin Visnjic), who is not happy when two of his guys are murdered.
Upon learning about Irwin’s dealings with Schiller, Evan had a little premonition of what was ahead. “We’re all dead,” he said. And he’s the first to go.
Which is too bad, because he’d just promised Marta that he would quit the drug business and get out of town with the family.
But with Evan now dead, the task of repaying her husband’s debt to Schiller falls to Marta. When he makes a deal for her to import a drug shipment for him, Marta turns to her dead husband’s best friend Mike (Lee Tergesen) for help.
It’s a great cast, and one of my favorite hard-working actors, Clifton Collins, Jr., plays FBI agent James Ramos. He wants Marta to work with him, and she’s thus caught in the middle of both sides. Will she go all Walter White and break bad? Will her kids end up in the business a la Nancy Botwin in “Weeds”? Will she turn into a female Tony Soprano? Anything is possible! If enough people watch the show so that it continues for seven seasons!
As a parent myself, one side of me wants Marta to protect her kids and keep them from harm. But another part of me wants her to become a kick-ass female mob boss who calls the shots and doesn’t bow down to anyone. It’s time for some female empowerment in the TV mob business!
Check out the show and report back with your thoughts in the comments below.
“Red Widow” is based on the Dutch series “Penoza,” and written and executive-produced by Melissa Rosenberg, whose creds include a slew of TV projects from “Dexter” to “The O.C.” dating back to “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman” in the 1990s. She also wrote the screenplays for all the “Twilight” movies.
The show is also executive-produced by Alon Aranya and Howard Klein, who’s helmed such fan faves as “The Office” and “Parks & Recreation.”. Check out the trailer…