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ABC's Missing pines for a Judd's reunion -- with her fictional son

Profiling Ashley Judd and Cliff Curtis of Missing. Photo: Ed Bark

Premiering: Thursday, March 15th at 7 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Ashley Judd, Cliff Curtis, Adriano Giannini, Nick Eversman, Tereza Voriskova
Produced by: Gregory Poirier, Gina Matthews, Grant Scharbo, Stephen Shill, James Parriott

ABC, official network of empowered women and runarounds, serves up another double dose with Missing.

This time it's Ashley Judd, in her TV series debut, playing action mom Becca Winstone. She's forced to re-tap her inner Chuck Norris after 18-year-old son, Michael (Nick Eversman), suddenly disappears while studying architecture in Rome. In Thursday's first episode alone, look for two prolonged kick/fist fights, another shorter one, a gun battle, a motorcycle chase and a shooting that leaves Becca with a literal sinking feeling in the closing scene.

Unfortunately the script can be a beating, too. As when a comically hard-charging deputy CIA boss named Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis) barks to his minions, "I want Becca Winstone in my office before this coffee gets cold!" Or, "Those are the ones we got to look out for. The thinner the file, the better the agent."

Beccca, you see, is a former CIA operative who quit cold turkey a decade ago after her CIA agent husband (a very briefly seen Sean Bean from Game of Thrones) was blown to bits in Vienna while their then eight-year-old son looked on helplessly. It turns out he was offed by "neo-fascist Russian terrorists."

Mom since has renounced her CIA ways and opened a flower shop. But the bloom is off her roses after Becca reluctantly agrees to let college age Michael go abroad on his own.

Thursday's opener also includes a very brief glimpse of Keith Carradine, who can't even be said to drop in for a cup of coffee. It's more like a sip from an espresso. And one wonders why he bothered.

Once apprised of her son's perilous situation, Becca jets off to Rome to very quickly begin deducing things. Missing doesn't mess around in this respect. A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. And this one will take lickings, keep ticking and regularly weep in anguish when not setting her jaw and declaring, "I am not CIA. I am a mother looking for her son!"

ABC just can't seem to self-contain itself when it comes to one-hour scripted series. They tend to be either serial soaps (GCB) or murky mystical tours like The River, which has yet to find more than a very smallish audience for its Lost-like trip to the Congo in search of a missing dad with a voodoo vibe.

Missing offers layer upon layer of CIA intrigue, with unknown forces out to get Becca, who in turn is wanted by Dax's brigade, who in turn are flogged by a CIA chieftain in Washington. Dax and Becca eventually join forces to a degree. But as she tells him, "I really don't have time for games." Thud.

A second episode available for review predictably slows down the frenetic action pace while also playing out predictably. Becca re-connects with an informant known as "Hard Drive" (Lothaire Bluteau), who's been in hiding with his horses. He still has the goods on the "all kinds of crooked" Antoine Lussier (Joaquim de Almeida), who also happens to be a deputy CIA director in the Paris bureau.

But Lussier seemingly knows how to find Michael. And Becca the avenging mom is willing to make a trade, even though she's of course very vexed about it.

This hour ends as you'll pretty much know it will. Still, the final scene pack some punch, and not of the physical kind.

Missing's clue unraveling is barely believable when it's not simply preposterous. And an old pal of Becca's named Giancarlo Rossi (Adriano Giannini) just happens to pop up whenever she needs him.

Through it all, Judd and her stunt doubles keep hammering home the point that she's a lioness of a mom with tear ducts. That's not enough to make a sale. But you might want to browse on occasion in hopes of catching a little picturesque scenery or a fight scene.