Judge Cynthia Boris has always wanted her face on a milk carton, but hasn't had the follow-through to make anything happen that would warrant it.
They will find you
If you look at the current TV landscape, you'll see an abundance of psychic wonders. NBC has Medium, CBS has Ghost Whisperer, The WB has Supernatural, but Lifetime (the network for women) beat them all to the punch with their under-the-radar series 1-800-Missing. Young Jess Mastriani has a sixth sense when it comes to finding missing people, now if only she can find an audience for Missing: Season Two.
Facts of the Case
In 2003, the Lifetime Network premiered their original series 1-800-Missing based on the teen novels by popular author Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries). After being struck by lightning, twenty-one year old Jess Mastriani (Caterina Scorsone) is blessed with dreams that are actually psychic visions. The visions are a mish-mash of symbols and metaphors but always lead to the recovery of a missing person (dead or alive). Since she's too young to be out solving crimes on her own (she's no Nancy Drew), Jess teams up with FBI agent Brooke Haslett (Gloria Reuben, ER). No random runaways here; these missing people are the victims of murders and kidnappers, so there's always someone to arrest at the end.
The show was enjoyable, suspenseful, and the characters didn't make me want to hit them.
Then Season Two came along.
For whatever reason, the people behind 1-800-Missing decided their show needed a revamp before coming back for Season Two. They began by changing the title to simply, Missing. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that even though they aired a disclaimer saying people should call The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children with their problems, they kept calling the fictitious phone number in the title, which is in actuality the Dept. of Livestock's Crime Stoppers hotline.
The second change was making Jess a full-fledged FBI agent. They sent her off to Quantico, then quickly plucked her from school in the season opener and sent her into the field. Its shades of The Silence of the Lambs and was inevitable. After all, how long can you justify the FBI dragging around a civilian on high profile cases? Oh wait, they do that every week on Bones. Still, I could live with it.
Except for this: they replaced Gloria Rueben with Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill: Volume 1) as Agent Nicole Scott. Now that may not sound like a big deal on the surface but girlfriend, it's huge. They might as well have made Queen Latifah her boss with all the sisterhood attitude that burst forth in the show. Where Rueben was methodical, intelligent, and believable as an FBI agent, Fox plays the role as a showboating prima donna who has literally thrown the rulebook out the window. In a single episode she manages to pull off just about every female cop bucking the system cliché, and it isn't pretty. Her cavalier, "ends justify the means" attitude is so old school Dirty Harry that it's boring. No, it's beyond boring. It's cringeworthy.
In the first season, Jess was coming to terms with her gifts. She was a part of the team, and there was a nice familial storyline with her mother and handicapped brother all trying to cope with the recent death of her dad. In Season Two, all of that is gone in favor of showcasing the much miscast Miss Fox.
While I'm complaining, let's talk about the packaging on this set. First off, lovely sketch art on the cover except for…well…Jess is the star of the show, but she's pushed into the background and looks oddly like Hillary Clinton. Inside the slip sleeve is a cheap plastic case with four DVDs loosely snapped in, two overlapping on each side, and a piece of paper with the episodes printed on it. The DVD graphics themselves are very nice, and the quality of the video and audio are too, but it doesn't matter since I doubt you'll make it past the season opener on Disc One.
The real shame here is that Lifetime had something when they first developed this series. Solid source material, actors who matched their roles, and a creative direction that fit in with the typical Lifetime audience. I'm sure the network made changes they thought would improve their ratings, but I say it's like that old song. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." Missing is nothing else, if not appropriately titled.
This court has decided to wave the traditional seven year waiting period and declares Missing: Season Two legally dead.
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