Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The ongoing winter TCA in Pasadena has introduced a number of new shows with serialized, mystery and/or whodunit plot lines: Sundance’s Ripper Street and DirecTV’s Rogue, to name a couple. At several TCA panels, a big question has been whether the episodes ordered for the show will lead the audience to a satisfying story conclusion — or leave audiences tweeting in post-traumatic frustration as they did when The Killing failed to solve its whodunit at the end of its first season.
ABC’s new drama Red Widow tells the story of Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell), a housewife forced to continue the work of her organized crime husband Franklin after he is assassinated in a drug-related incident. The series is based on the 2010 Dutch drama series Penoza. Following today’s TCA panel on the show, executive producer Melissa Rosenberg promised that the 8 episodes ordered would wrap up key plot points.
“Having learned from The Killing, we are answering the questions of who killed Franklin and where is the coke,” said Rosenberg, a veteran of Dexter and screenwriter of the Twilight series. “The question of how Marta is going to get herself out of this is a series-long question. And each effort will lead to the continuing story line.”
Added Rosenberg, “By the end of the season, we’ll have a satisfying answer to the season, but I’m not giving anybody up. I’m not killing everyone, and I’m not letting anyone off the hook.” She did confirm that the dead husband would not reappear in flashbacks.
Appearing with cast members Luke Gross, Jaime Ray Newman, Goran Visnjic, Wil Traval and Mitchell, Rosenberg joked that the decision to wrap things up was also informed by the Dutch series, which was originally conceived as an 8-episode mini-series but was picked up for more episodes. By the time they found out they’d need more story, she said, “they had killed everybody.”
Rosenberg said that she was eager to bring a flawed female character to network television, in the way that Weeds and Nurse Jackie have done for cable TV. She also said that the character was inspired by cable’s flawed male protagonists in Breaking Bad and Dexter.
For her part, actress Mitchell said she jumped at the chance to portray a character she compared to La Femme Nikita, “a character under duress. I always thought the character was iconic, and a kind of character I wanted to explore if I had one more character in my career.”