Jenna Bans brings an intense and emotional mystery to ABC for 2016. Titled The Family, and starring Joan Allen, Andrew McCarthy and Margot Bingham the pilot will air on March 3 and it promises to be a gut-wrenching and heart-breaking ride. There may also be an unsettling look at the American legal system and like another crime drama on offer from the same network (Secrets and Lies) uncomfortable truths may be uncovered.
Bingham is the cop whose career was made by her solving the disappearance/ murder of a local politician’s son 10 years previously. The female police officer arrested the next door neighbor; Hank (McCarthy) a registered sex offender for the crime and the collar won her the Sergeant’s badge she now wears.
After the Warner family have, apparently, come to terms with the boy’s death, Adam suddenly shows up; 10 years older and wearing the marks of abuse. The boy is identified as the missing/dead child via DNA results at local hospital. Hank is released for a crime he never committed and the world of the family changes once again. Things are not as straightforward as they appear and the real criminal is still out there.
Sergeant Meyer (Bingham) swears to catch the man who kept Adam (Liam James) captive and abused him for 10 years. Adam’s brother Danny (Zach Gilford) is not convinced that Adam is who he claims to be and sister Willa (Alison Pill) has a guilty secret. Adam’s father and the cop share something as well.
The pilot is tightly put together and has all the earmarks of an epic tragedy. Even the music sets the mood, as Robert Duncan provides a score that, in places, is apparently influenced by John Murphy’s score for 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later.
The Family has a storyline that comes across as a carefully crafted diamond where multifaceted facts and secrets are revealed via flashbacks in the pilot episode. This mystery/drama looks to be an in-depth puzzler where there are plenty of secrets. Each player in this series has things to hide, it seems, and one wonders if Meyer will uncover these along with the truth about Adam and his abductor.
Andrew McCarthy is on fine form as the registered sex offender who is wrongly accused and convicted of Adam Warner’s murder 10 years previously. Joan Allen, who specializes in playing not just strong women but damned unpleasant ones, is compelling as the politico whose son has returned from the dead.
Bingham easily wears the two hats required for her character; the uniformed cop whose career is defined by her success in the Warner case and the homicide sergeant who now must admit she helped to convict the wrong man.
Or has she?
Jenna Bans has given us a fascinating start to a mystery that touches many characters deeply. That Bans has done so should come as no surprise, with credits that include Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. The characters introduced in the pilot are deep, flawed and feel as real as the people viewers interact with each day.
The story looks to be a good one. Enough clues have already been dropped at the viewers feet to make this series required fare for those who love a mystery.
The pilot opens with Margot Bingham’s character talking about, via narrative voice over, the two cases that every cop faces in their careers. The one that “makes them” and the one that “breaks them.”
Bans and ABC have promised the audience a series that will captivate and enthrall, if the pilot is anything to go by. Watching the early screener left this viewer immediately wanting to know more. Why has Mayor Warner (Allen) decided to use her son’s return as a political platform and why has Adam forgotten so much of his own childhood traits? These were just two questions raised by the end of the pilot.
The Family begins March 2016 and looks to be winner. Head over to ABC on March 3 and tune in, this one will grab you.