The bonds between mother and son are stretched to unintentionally laughable lengths in “Missing” (7 p.m., ABC), a new showcase for Ashley Judd.
As the title implies, the drama revolves around an intrepid mom, Becca Winstone (Judd), and her efforts to locate her son, Michael, who disappears after only two weeks studying abroad in Rome. Every scene that’s shot in a gorgeous foreign location is injected with enough paranoia that no viewer would ever consider traveling abroad.
We learn early on that Becca has reasons to be frantic and protective. She and her husband, Paul, were former CIA agents. Paul was blown up on assignment in Vienna right in front of young Michael. So Becca spends the next 10 years smothering her son, worrying and frequently jogging when not attending PTA meetings.
Suffice it to say, Becca’s in good shape for being the mom of a college-age boy. In fact, the very attractive Becca’s affectionate relationship with her son is such that you breathe a sigh of relief when Michael decides to put an ocean of distance between them.
At first glance, “Missing” seems a lot like “Body of Proof,” a drama designed to highlight the sexiness of an actress who’s been around for a while, assuring viewers of a certain age that they can look and feel great, too.
But “Missing” departs from this theme about five minutes into the pilot, when Becca traces clues back to her son’s room and finds herself kickboxing a hostile secret agent to death, then hopping on a motorcycle and firing a machine gun at the same time. Obviously, she wasn’t always a PTA mom.
What’s really “Missing” is any sense of who will ever watch this.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Second-round action in the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament (6 p.m.).
• High stakes in the sandwich business on “Community” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Another contestant gets the hook on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).
• St. Patrick’s Day on “30 Rock” (7:30 p.m., NBC).
• Andy hits the road in pursuit of Erin on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).
• VH1’s “Behind the Music” (8 p.m. and 9 p.m.) returns with hip-hop artists Pitbull and T.I.
• A figure from Michael’s past kidnaps Rex on “Awake” (9 p.m., NBC).