“Here lies Molly Parker, dead by a thousand clichés.”
And it didn’t take long for the fatal blow. The series was an American version of the popular Argentine crime drama Mujeres Asesinas, which had already been successfully transplanted to other Latin American countries. This edition was originally only given a trial run of sorts, with eight episodes bought, and scheduled after New Year as a mid-season replacement for another deceased ABC series. However, after miserable ratings for the first two episodes, the network cut the order to six shows, a mere ten days after the series premiere. Unaware of this, it caused us some confusion when we turned on #6, which was suddenly now #8, with the sixth and seventh having been reduced in their entirety, to “Previously, on Killer Women…”
The problem was clear: scripts unable to escape the tired and banal, going down well-worn paths over familiar from a thousand other shows, right from the opening shot of the Alamo, unimaginative director shorthand for “We’re in Texas.” As if the stetsons and cattle weren’t a giveaway there – WE’RE IN TEXAS. [The show doth protest too much: it was largely filmed one state over, in New Mexico] Another example: literally seconds into the establishing scene of one episode, Chris predicted the victim would be a star athlete, from the NFL, bludgeoned to death with one of his own trophies. Turned out he was from the NBA; otherwise, she was spot-on. This kind of painfully obvious was par for the course. Oh, look: the heroine is having a sexy relationship with hunky DEA agent Dan Winston (Blucas). Now she’s trying to get out of an abusive relationship with her politician ex-husband (Nordling). This apparently gives her an empathic relationship with other woman in similar situations. Kill me now.
It’s a shame, because the best thing about the show is Helfer, who plays lead Molly Parker with a winning charm that deserves much better material. There’s something of Geena Davis about her, both women being tall (Helfer is 5’11”, an inch less than Davis) and lanky, with smiles that can light up a room. Truth be told. the former model is probably a little too polished to be the Texas Ranger she plays here, but she does convey the multiple facets of her personality well, rather than being a one-dimensional crime-solving machine. Indeed, most of the performances are perfectly adequate. Blucas has previous experience playing the eye-candy boyfriend to an action-heroine, having been Riley Finn in season four of Buffy, and Nordling is suitably slimy as the husband who just won’t accept that it’s over.
No, it’s the storylines that aren’t up to scratch here, starting with the central conceit, which sees Parker every week confronted by a murderous woman or women. Given that FBI stats have male murderers outnumbering their female counterparts by better than nine to one, this was stretching credibility a bit, and is a limitation which further hampers writers who have already demonstrated a lack of ability. The debut episode starts off promisingly enough, with a woman in a blood-red dress stalking down the aisle of a church and gunning down the groom. But what first seems like a straightforward crime of passion, turns out to be the result of blackmail by a Mexican drug cartel, and somehow ends with Parker and Winston carrying out a solo raid across the border to rescue the victims. I think I heard a snort of derision from my wife as this all unfolded, and sadly, she was largely justified.
There were a couple of stories which were potentially interesting: I liked the second episode more, but even that spiralled its way down into eventual implausibility, with the killer deciding Molly’s unwanted ex-husband is a suitable target for her next victim. The back story was little better, with her brother (Trucco) apparently cheating on his wife, but actually taking on “extra work” to help out his ranch financially. It doesn’t take a weatherman to figure out that this will end up blowing him into conflict with Winston. It probably says something that skipping episodes as the network did, had little or no effect on coherence. All told, this was on thin ice from the get-go, and its termination came as no surprise, sad though we always are to see any action heroine show bite the dust. Helfer will hopefully recover, and go on to better things. This will otherwise be quietly forgotten by all involved.
Creator: Hannah Shakespeare
Star: Tricia Helfer, Marc Blucas, Michael Trucco, Jeffrey Nordling