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Case Number 15982

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Runaway: The Complete Series

Sony // 2006 // 384 Minutes // Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // March 23rd, 2009

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All Rise...

Because she's too old to be a part of their demographic, Judge Cynthia Boris is on the run from The CW police.

Editor's Note

Our review of Runaway (2005), published December 18th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

How far would you run to protect your family?

Opening Statement

In the fall of 2006, The WB and UPN merged into a new network called The CW (which comes from parent companies CBS and Warner Brothers). The new network launched with a mish-mash of shows from the two previous networks and only two shows of their own: the sitcom The Game and family drama Runaway.

Like the characters on Runaway, the network was forced to deal with a new and unfamiliar name and in many cases, they even landed on new channels, far away from the stations that had been home. The press, the industry, and TV viewers all turned a suspicious eye toward the bright green-logoed network and under the scrutiny, The CW struggled with a monumental identity crisis. That's why it's so ironic that they canned Runaway after only three episodes giving it the distinction of being the very first show to be canceled on the new CW network. But stress not, Wahlberg fans, Runaway: The Complete Series is now on DVD.

Facts of the Case

The Raders are a typical upper-class family in Maryland. Mom Lily (Leslie Hope, 24) runs an art gallery and orders take-out for dinner more nights than not. Oldest son Henry (Dustin Milligan, 90210) plays lacrosse and boozes it up with his rich friends as often as possible. Daughter Hannah (Sarah Ramos, American Dreams) is shy and bookish while youngest son Tommy is just cute and funny. Dad Paul (Donnie Wahlberg, The Sixth Sense) is a successful attorney who is having an affair with his secretary Erin—but then Erin turns up dead and everything changes.

Paul is accused of murdering the woman, probably because his fingerprints were on the knife and he was in the apartment cradling her dead body, but he says he's innocent. Like all rich innocent people, he runs and he takes his family with him. Nice.

As the show begins, the family is starting over yet again in a small town in Iowa. The kids go to school, mom works as a receptionist at the hospital, and dad works as a fry cook when he's not playing detective. His only hope is finding out who really killed Erin but until then his family must live in fear of discovery as they're aggressively hunted by overzealous marshal Angela Huntley (Karen LeBlanc).

This DVD contains the full run of nine episodes:

Disc One
• "Runaway: The Pilot"
• "Identity Crisis"
• "Mr. Rader Goes to Washington"
• "Homecoming"
• "Father Figure"

Disc Two
• "Liar, Liar"
• "Turn, Turn, Turn"
• "There's No Place Like Home"
• "End Game"

The Evidence

Ironically, Runaway's biggest flaw is that it suffers from an identity crisis. On one hand, it seems like a typical CW teen angst-fest squarely rooted in the issues of two teens living a double life. Henry (Who is now Jason) longs for his former life and the girlfriend he left behind. Throughout the short run, it is his efforts to contact his old girlfriend that endangers the family on more than one occasion. Sister Hannah (now known as Kate) is loving this new life because in this town she's the popular girl, the one who has had sex and can get liquor for underage parties. She falls for next-door-neighbor Brady and life is good for her.

Following Henry and Hannah, we get a good dose of high school relationship problems, teen rebellion, and underage sex. It's 90210 with an added layer of secrets.

The trouble is, the show doesn't stick with the kids. Wahlberg is the star and even though this is The CW, he's given plenty of airtime and action sequences as he tries to track down Erin's killer. In addition, we're given mom, the nosy real estate lady who had bigger problems of her own, the sweet next-door-neighbors, and the team of marshals who are tracking the family. That's too many adults in what should be a teen drama.

Speaking of adults. I first decided to watch this show because Chris Potter was listed in the original cast. I loved him in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Silk Stalkings so I was excited to see him on the show. In the pilot he plays the Rader's new next-door-neighbor who is all smiles and ever so helpful—in other words, he's creepy. There's something not quite right about this guy and I expected this to be one of the twists and turns of the series. Oddly, Chris is never seen again after the pilot even though we continue to see his TV wife and son Brady. Did I blink? Did I miss the line where they said he went to jail for exposing himself to kids in the park? My best guess is that between the time he filmed the pilot and the time the show went into production he got another gig and they decided to simply do without rather than replace him Darren Stevens style. Still, it bugs me.

The other thing that bugs me is the "lesson" of the show. It stems from that old chestnut, "everything happens for a reason." Apparently, the reason Erin got her throat slashed and dad got accused of murder was to teach this family about true togetherness. Living in cheap motels, running from the law, has made them realize that they weren't spending enough time together when they were rich. That they were all too wrapped up in their own lives to care about each other. But now that they're on the lam, mom's making pancakes for breakfast, dad shows up at the school spelling bee and big brother cares enough to buy his little sister liquor so she can be the hit of the party. Aw…ain't that sweet.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

There are nine episodes on this DVD set, six of which never made it to air. My favorite episode fell in the later group and it's the one episode that had nothing to do with Rader's criminal investigation. A tornado rips through town forcing each of the family members to take shelter away from each other. Little Mikey (formerly Tommy) gets trapped in an over-turned, electrified school bus with a classmate and it's dad and big brother to the rescue. I love a good disaster and rescue, even if I was annoyed at the news crew who stood by and watched while the kids nearly fried in the bus.

The saving grace of this set is that there is some kind of resolution in the ninth episode, though it's certainly not an end. You do find out who killed Erin but pretty much every other question is left unanswered, but I guess that's better nothing.

Sony did a nice job with the DVD itself. Pretty graphics adorn both the slip sleeve and the two inner snapcases. There are good episode descriptions on the back of each case where you can actually read them easily and the video and sound quality are as you'd expect for new series.

Closing Statement

Runaway is a mildly interesting family drama that will play best to fans of Donnie Wahlberg or Dustin Milligan, who is becoming a true staple on The CW. Sadly, the attempt to produce both an adult mystery and a teen drama will have viewers of all ages watching with their finger on the fast forward button.

I would have enjoyed the show more if the son had been accused of murdering his girlfriend and the family went on the run to keep him out of jail. Now there's a perfect CW plot.

The Verdict

The court has found Runaway: The Complete Series to be guilty of fraud. We've ordered a bench warrant for the creator's arrest but he seems to have skipped town with his entire family, two dogs and a bowl of goldfish. Don't worry, we'll find them, even if we need to spend ten billion dollars of taxpayers money to do it.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 0
Acting: 85
Story: 82
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 384 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Unaired Episodes


• IMDb

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