Kyra Sedgwick’s new series, Ten Days in the Valley (ABC, Sundays, 10/9C), is a terrific showcase for her talent but not much more.
By the conclusion of the series premiere, practically every character with more than two lines has some kind of secret – but there’s no point in giving everyone secrets if we don’t know enough about them to give a damn.
Jane Sadler (Sedgwick) is the creator/showrunner of an intense, well researched cop show. She’s asked to write a new scene when a location falls through and, when she heads off to her office in a shed behind her house, her daughter, Lake (Abigail Pniowsky, Arrival), is taken from her bed.
Jane immediately suspects her ex-husband – he’s got a habit of returning her late after his weekends with her (once he was five days late!), but Pete (Kick Gurry, Edge of Tomorrow, War Machine) seems just as anxious to find her as Jane.
The detectives on the case, John Bird (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lost, Suicide Squad) and Nikole Bilson (Ali Liebert, Strange Empire, Mech-X4), and Jane’s sister, Ali (Erika Christensen, Parenthood, Wicked City) seem to be the only characters who don’t have any secrets (at least far in episode three), but they also seem to be workaholics – just like Jane.
Potential kidnappers include the aforementioned Pete; Jane’s maid, Bea (Marisol Ramirez, Dallas, Shameless); Bea’s boyfriend, Christopher Gomez (Carlos Sanz, The Fosters, NCIS: Los Angeles); Jane’s assistant, Casey (Emily Kinney, The Walking Dead), and more – each with a secret that a kidnapping could (in one or another) could help resolve).
Then there’s the fact that Jane has lied to Detective Bird on more than one occasion – confessing to one lie to make the detective’s timeline allow for a possible kidnapper/witness: one she doesn’t want him question.
Written by series creator Tassie Cameron (Flashpoint, Rookie Blue) and directed by Carl Franklin(House of Cards, The Leftovers), the series premiere, Day One: Fade In, is competently assembled – the cinematography is good; the cast is good; the score is good – but the writing seems rushed.
There are too many secrets too quickly and too many characters who don’t have sufficient screen time for us to care about them/despise them/whatever.
Jane, on the other hand, we do get to know and she’s a workaholic single mom who works best with a glass of wine and a hit of coke – ten feet from her sleeping daughter! So, not exactly mother of the year (as Pete states more than once).
The writers’ room on her cop show seems unable to function adequately without her, but she doesn’t seem to have the kind of authority you’d expect a showrunner to have. When that scene I mentioned before has to be rewritten, it’s all put on her, like no one else in the writers room can be expected to function after dark.
The biggest problem the show has is that after two-and-a-half episodes (at which point I just gave up), we still don’t know enough to care about the supporting cast and Jane is simply too unlikable for Sedgwick to make work – though she does get points for trying.
Ten Days in the Valley is not worth your time.
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