Killer Women: Tuesdays at 10 Eastern on ABC
Is there a more confounding night on TV than ABC’s Tuesdays? The night, which the network rebuilt from scratch last fall after being ABC’s prime reality real estate for the better part of a decade, has seemed to lack any real sense of continuity this season from moment one. A large part of this was due to following tent-pole Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D with two family comedies (The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife) as well as with a drama so mundane that it got axed after two episodes (Lucky 7). The reason I mention this odd scheduling decision is because it seems that we once again are going to see that jarring discord, with ABC now closing it’s Tuesdays with a soapy law procedural that seems like an awkward fit with the rest of the night.
Killer Women follows Texas Ranger Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer) as she navigates law enforcement as a woman in a male dominated field, including the political pitfalls and a rival police lieutanant (Vic Trevino). While there seems to be enough there for a meaty drama, this is ABC where no one can have both a career and a stable personal life, so marital troubles also poke through, with Molly wanting to divorce her husband Jake (Jeffrey Nordling) and driving her to an affair with a DEA agent (Marc Blucas).
The show is first and foremost a western-style police procedural and as a feminine Walker: Texas Ranger style show, it succeeds in spades. The show brings the action in droves, whether it’s the initial gunning down at the wedding, a car chase scene, or the climactic gun battle in a rodeo (though the fact that Parker has pulls out a semi automatic as her first gun is slightly disconcerting), making for some entertaining television. The camera work on many of these scenes is additionally top notch, whether using a tight angle to garner suspense in the open, a wider angle shot to show off the rolling fields of South Texas, or just a long shot of a sluiced open potential informant laid out in a prison shower.
When Killer Women goes into it’s soapier elements everything starts to fall apart. In particular, the subplot regarding Parker’s divorce starts to veer into Lifetime movie territory, with ex-husband Jason being portrayed as a complete creep with zero redeeming values. Similarly, Parker and Winston’s affair is portrayed equally awkwardly, with an odd mix of sex and careerism, only to finally produce a genuinely binding moment at the end of the pilot.
The pilot otherwise seemed myopic in other ways, such as a hyper focus on Parker that led to numerous silent video packages (we only move off of Parker twice: for the murder itself, and a scene where our shooter gets stabbed in the shower). While it’s standard issue for a show to put it’s central character in the spotlight, it seemed to background just about everyone except Winston down to being glorified extras who exist to question her thinking or credentials (our shooter of the week seems to have the second most screen time by a sizable margin).
The Final Verdict: When Killer Women is a cop show, it’s downright entertaining, particularly with the buddy cop dynamic that Molly Parker and Dan Winston provide. Unfortunately, the show falls apart when it becomes focused on Parker’s personal life, as those scenes tended to be either extremely boring or extremely melodramatic. The biggest surprise to me though, is how well this show could fit next to a show like S.H.I.E.L.D if the action side is played up. I’d wait and see on this show, since there’s enough potential for Killer Women to become a thrill ride, but it needs to avoid the soapy pitfalls and further develop a very thin supporting cast to work.