"Kidnapped" has the unfortunate problem of being the second serialized thriller about an abduction to hit the airwaves this season, five weeks behind FOX's "Vanished." But you know that adage about good things coming to those who wait? Well, here you go.
The story of the taking of the teenage son (Will Denton) of a wealthy New York couple (Dana Delany and Timothy Hutton) and the effort to find him, "Kidnapped" is not a perfect show. Dialogue in the first two episodes (both written by series creator Jason Smilovic) sometimes runs toward cut-rate Mamet or Chandler, and viewers used to the breakneck speed of "24" may find its pace a little poky in the early going.
What the series does have going for it is a top-drawer cast, headed by Jeremy Sisto and Delroy Lindo, who make the tough-guy talk a lot easier to swallow, a fantastic abduction sequence in the premiere episode and a real sense of forward momentum. Especially after the second episode, you get the sense that Smilovic and his team have a concrete idea about where the story is headed.
In other words, it's not "Vanished." For instance:
We know who the bad guy is. He's played by Doug Hutchison, and he's orchestrating things from the offices of a textile company. We don't yet know his motives for orchestrating the kidnapping of Leopold Cain, but there are strong hints in episode two that it may have something to do with his dad Conrad's (Hutton) past. It appears Conrad wasn't born into his privileged life, which means he may have hurt some folks on his way up. "Vanished" thus far has given us a cryptic symbol and some quasi-religious hooey by way of explaining its villains.
There's a palpable sense of place. "Kidnapped" is filmed on location in New York, and even in two episodes the show has already made good use of numerous locations in the city. As befits a show about a wide-ranging search for a missing boy, the characters are outside quite a bit, and being in the actual place just makes things feel more real in a way that the L.A.-based "Vanished's" overhead shots of Atlanta don't.
Jeremy Sisto is a badass. That may sound like an odd thing to say, particularly if you're familiar with his "Six Feet Under" character. But Sisto, playing a kidnap-and-recovery specialist hired by the Cain family, pulls off the hard-man act with aplomb. He and Lindo, as the FBI agent handling the case for the government, also work very well together as two men pursuing the same end under different rules. That makes for some tension, of course, but there's a mutual respect there as well, and, thankfully, very little in the way of "This is my investigation!" nonsense.
It all adds up to a good, solid thriller that does enough character work to make you care about whether the victim, who looks to be a bright, resourceful kid, is ever reunited with his family. "Kidnapped" will have to keep on its toes, though, because saddled with a deeply incompatible lead-in ("The Biggest Loser") and airing opposite "CSI: NY" and ABC's strong new series "The Nine," only a continued run of good storytelling will keep viewers coming back.