Going into the Fall 2017 TV season, I'm being incredibly selective when it comes to adding new shows to my schedule. In fact, I find myself shedding more weight than I intend to put on, abandoning many ABC series that I feel have outlived their storytelling value, such as Scandal and Once Upon a Time. That's why Ten Days in the Valley comes as a breath of fresh air, a limited run that I know I will have time to invest in.
Kyra Sedgwick returns to television as a divorced TV writer with a lot of drama in her life. When her daughter disappears from her LA home, she initially assumes her ex has taken her without permission... again. But when a detective confirms that her daughter is not with her ex, her whole world is flipped upside down.
In several ways, Ten Days in the Valley reminds me of Secrets and Lies, which had an amazing first season and failed to reconnect in its sophomore year. Jane Sadler (Sedgwick)'s life is more scandalous than it initially appears, with a secret drug addiction causing her to lie to the detectives. It also seems like everyone around Sadler has a reason to lie, with her ex-husband, personal assistant, nanny, and employees all having reasons to want to blackmail her or set her up. Even the police have a grievance with her after a documentary she produced and the fictional stories she writes for TV, which often parallel real cases they shared with her off the record.
As the title suggests, the entire season will take place over the course of ten episodes with each representing a day during Sadler's daughter's disappearance. Like Secrets and Lies, there's lots of potential to keep the series going if successful, including another shocking situation for these characters or an unrelated problem elsewhere in the Valley with perhaps some minor connecting tissue. But even if this becomes its own self-contained entity that is never to receive a follow up, I think viewers will be in for a twisty and exciting treat.
I have just two gripes with Ten Days in the Valley, the first of which is a biggie. It takes 17-minutes for the pilot to really hook you into it, which is sure to cause many impatient viewers to give up on it before it has a chance to impress. The other is that the character of Jane Sadler is instantly unlikable. Her self-absorbed nature is so off-putting that you don't even get a chance to root for her in the first episode. It's not until the second episode that you see her begin to break down and become relatable. This is more the fault of a complex character and less about Sedgwick's acting abilities. On the contrary, she is consistently exhibiting the denial and anger stages of grief in the premiere with bargaining and early signs of acceptance in episode two.
I've been a fan of Kyra Sedgwick since I was a kid obsessing over the film Heart & Souls. I'm so happy to see her return to primetime television and on the best network of all (because ABC's parent company is Disney and I'm biassed that way). If you, too, have lost a lot of shows this season, give Ten Days in the Valley a chance to fill the void.
Ten Days in the Valley premieres Sunday, October 1st, at 10/9c on ABC