September 30, 2013

TV: Betrayal (Sun 10, ABC)

Melodramatic soap opera about a love triangle complicated by a murder trial.

Sara (Hannah Ware) is a photographer who meets Jack (Stuart Townsend) at a gallery exhibition of her work. They are both unhappily married, and they begin a passionate affair.

Sara's husband, Drew (Chris Johnson), is a politically ambitious prosecuting attorney. Jack's wife, Elaine (Wendy Moniz), is the daughter of local tycoon Thatcher Karsten (James Cromwell); Jack was raised in the Karsten home after the death of his parents, and now works as Thatcher's in-house attorney.

So of course, when Karsten's mentally challenged son TJ (Henry Thomas) is accused of murder, Jack and Drew are destined to wind up on opposite sides of the murder trial.

The principal problem with the show is that if you're going to tell a story about a passionate love affair, someone involved has to be believably passionate, or worthy of passionate; Ware and Townsend are both bland actors of flat affect; neither seems capable of any emotion deeper than mild peevishness. On the other hand, Cromwell is entertaining as the shady tycoon, and Thomas plays TJ's mental problems with more subtlety than you might expect from a show of this sort.

There's nothing wrong with a good trashy wallow in cheesy melodrama, but the key word there is "good," and there's not much that's good about Betrayal. It's tepid where it should be torrid, undercooked where it should be overheated, and lacking the necessary passion to kick it into high gear.

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