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Herc Swats Away

I am – Hercules!!

A new ABC hourlong from writer-producer Melissa Rosenberg (all five “Twilight” vampire movies and many episodes of “Dexter”), “Red Widow” stars the fabulous Australian actress Radha Mitchell (“Pitch Black,” “Melinda and Melinda,” “Silent Hill,” “Surrogates”) as a suburban Bay Area soccer mom who finds herself forced to work for a Russian mobster (“ER” icon Goran Visnjic) to pay off a family debt after her drug-smuggling husband is murdered.

It packs perhaps a solid 25 minutes of plot into its 2-hour pilot.

It’s a great antidote to “The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad” and “Boardwalk Empire,” reminding us that TV shows about organized crime can be incredibly boring too.

By turns dull and ludicrous, “Red Widow” is easily one of the weakest pilots to find its way to air in this or any other season. ABC ordered eight episodes; I’d be flabbergasted if we ever saw a ninth.

The New York Times says:

... the story doesn’t have enough oomph to get you past the credibility gaps. Combine that with a moralizing tendency that was probably necessary for broadcast-network prime time, and you’re left with pretty weak tea. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

... high-aspiring but poorly executed …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... staggers into an already listless mid-season Sunday on ABC with a premise borrowed from Dutch TV, a second-tier cast and consistently unconvincing writing throughout. … It takes two hours to lay all this out and about a minute to get that it's a snooze-fest. … This kind of writing is so bad is because it's convenient and not at all credible.

The Washington Post says:

... Summarizing the show here makes me realize how “Red Widow” sounds either tedious or ridiculous, or some familiar combination of the two. But Mitchell’s coolly understated performance makes it all slightly more believable and worth a few episodes to see where it leads. …

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... Bland and toothless … fails to come up with anything that's remotely interesting to watch. … Unlike a black widow, who mates and kills, "Red Widow" seems more likely to bore viewers to death.

The Boston Globe says:

... watching Mitchell as an actress trying to morph from a contented wife into a corrupt widow in a single sitting is painful. … If “Red Widow” were more psychologically twisty or more excessive and over-the-top, it could be more engaging. As it is, the show is ludicrous and not much fun.

The Denver Post says:

  … an off-putting start … 

USA Today says:

... Widow's indifferently performed, dishwater-dull opener give us no real clue as to who Marta is or what she wants — or why anyone would want to watch her pursue it.

Variety says:

... the middling execution hews closer to presenting a desperate housewife than bringing to mind “Breaking Bad.” …

10 p.m. Sunday. ABC.

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