Betrayal: TV Review


Stars: Hannah Ware, Stuart Townsend, James Cromwell, Henry Thomas, Chris Johnson, Wendy Moniz, Elizabeth McLaughlin, Braeden Lemasters
Team: David Zabel, Rob Golenberg, Alon Aranya; director - Patty Jenkins

A beautiful but unhappily married female photographer begins a torrid affair with a lawyer for a powerful family. When he turns out to be defending a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband, the relationship and the case begin a spiraling series of betrayals with cataclysmic results for everyone involved.

A woman, a man, some indifferent spouses, the law and ... yeah, this is really just about having an affair and having it all go wrong. Nothing new here. And not a lot of  reasons to watch. 

Marriage, infidelity, lawyers and whole lot of who-cares make ABC's new drama instantly forgettable.

It's clear that since ABC already had Scandal and Revenge, it definitely needed Betrayal. That can be the only reason a network would want a show about infidelity that isn't very sexy, isn't overly dramatic about the dangers of cheating and one that layers on a bunch of complications to make it more exciting.

Except that layering doesn't work.

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Betrayal may be the most bland look at finding one's soulmate in another's husband or wife ever dreamt up. It never feels exciting, nor does it exhibit much of a pulse, and viewers won't have much invested in the fantasy despite a whole ton of music that pleads for you to be swept away. Yes, there's a market for soap operas in every television season, but it just seems disheartening to think that anyone would fall for Betrayal unless they had so many spare hours in their boring lives that losing one was no big deal.

The series stars Hannah Ware as Sara, a professional photographer married to, let's face it, a disinterested jerk named Drew (Chris Johnson), a go-get-'em prosecutor who is more interested in kissing the rings of the politically connected than kissing his wife or listening to her discuss how unfulfilled she is. Granted, this is also hard to see for the audience. The writers are just looking for a way to have her fall under the spell of Jack (Stuart Townsend), yet another handsome man (what problems does this woman really have?). Anyway, the pilot spends a lot of time with Jack clearly attracted to Sara, who in turn isn't doing much to fight off his flattering nature. They stare a lot at each other in that way that people do on television.

Of course, there are complications. Sara has a family. And yes, Jack has a wife and family as well. You could probably do a lot of navel-gazing about how awkward that might be and maybe get deep into the notion that sometimes when you have it all it feels like you have nothing. Except that would be more like Mad Men and there's not an ounce of the same intelligence here. It's just good-looking people realizing they are attracted to each other. Those are First World problems.

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But into this torpid mess comes a plot twist. Jack works as an attorney for Thatcher Karsten (James Cromwell) who, with a name like that, can't be a good person. He's not. And his mentally challenged adult son T.J. (Henry Thomas) looks to have done a bad thing and -- what? -- it looks like there's going to be a trial where Drew and Jack are going to square off against each other and Sara is going to be caught in the middle with her boredom, fancy camera equipment and a battle between loyalty and lust.

Actually, I just made that sound way better than it really is. Unless you're into sappy romance stuff where it's like turning pages of a fashion magazine and imagining that model sleeping with this model in a kind of gauzy reality that you'll never encounter, then steer clear of Betrayal. Because it would be a scandal for you to miss all the other, far better and less boring options on television. And I wouldn't want to face your revenge for steering you toward this sleep-inducing dud instead.


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