First Impressions

The Family

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                The previews of The Family were rather interesting - a young boy who has been missing for ten years suddenly returns to his family, but something isn't right.  Could it be that this is not the same boy that disappeared?  If so, who is he?  Praying this wasn't one of those aliens took my son shows, I decided to check out the first two episodes of The Family on ABC.

                Created by Jenna Bans, one of Scandal's regular writers, it should surprise no one that The Family should have some similarities to other Shonda Rhimes creations.  Like Grey's Anatomy, the first two episodes of The Family begin with narration from main characters of the series, offering us a peek into their mindsets.  The premiere episode begins with some words from Nina Meyer (Margot Bingham), a police detective who speaks about the case that can make you and the case that can break you.  According to Nina, the case we are about to learn about is both.  In the second episode, we hear from Adam regarding the phrase "You can never go home again".

                And here is another Shonda Rhimes special - like How to Get Away With Murder, we flash back and forth between the last ten years and the present.  Ten years ago, Claire Warren (Joan Allen) was a happily married mother of three hoping for a seat on the city council in Red Pines, Maine.  While attempting to gather voter support at a rally, youngest son Adam (Maxwell James) disappears.  The Warrens' neighbor, Hank (Andrew McCarthy) is accused and later convicted of kidnapping and killing Adam, though a body was never recovered.  Nina Meyer, the lead officer on the case, gets promoted and the family moves on.

                Ten years later, Claire Warren, with the help of her daughter Willa (Alison Pill) is on her way to announcing a run for Governor.  Her husband John (Rupert Graves) has become a sensation as a writer of self-help books dealing with grief, but is somewhat detached when it comes to his family.  Her son Danny (Zach Gilford) has been drowning his guilt over Adam's disappearance in alcohol and women.  Willa has thrown herself into the behind the scenes work of her mother's political career.  And then, just like that, a young, disheveled man (Liam James) enters the Red Pines Police Headquarters looking for Nina Meyer.  Upon her arrival, he reveals that he is Adam Warren.

                Showing signs of malnourishment and abuse, Adam's return throws everything into turmoil.  Hank, now having spent ten years behind bars, is released, sent back to an empty home with a big fat government compensation check.  The Warrens are torn between being happy about Adam's return and his frame of mind.  Adam seems different somehow, possibly a result of the years spent in captivity, but Danny has his doubts, especially when he realizes that the bits of memories Adam seems to have come from the photos his mother has placed along the mantel.  Meanwhile, the hunt is on for Adam's abductor who is apparently still out there.

                When I initially attempted to watch this show, I was tired and fell promptly asleep during the first half hour.  It wasn't until two episodes had passed that I actually had an opportunity to watch The Family and now, I'm hooked.  The show is pretty straight forward about whether or not Adam has really returned - we know he hasn't.  But where is the real Adam, who is this imposter and why is he pretending to be him?  Those are the questions we want answered...and what, if any involvement does Hank have in all of this?  I have my suspicions already - I think Willa knows who this new Adam is and is forcing the issue of his legitimacy in an effort to boost her mother's career, the only thing truly important to her.  So, I think I have that covered...and I think that maybe Hank did something to Adam, though if he was actually involved in murdering him, I don't know. 

                The storyline of this show is incredibly intriguing and though I can't seem to really feel for the main characters here, the mystery of it all...the need to know the captivating and will keep me coming back for more.  Unfortunately, its Sunday 9pm EST time slot pits The Family against The Walking Dead, meaning I will have to watch this new show On Demand, but watch I will, because I am incredibly curious to see how this all plays out.


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