It's as if these producers never had a child go missing before.
The series premiere of Kidnapped didn't deliver on tone, and it certainly didn't deliver on empathy.
In the wooden Conrad Cain, rich-beyond-reckoning father of the kidnapped Leopold Cain (Will Denton), Timothy Hutton gives us the least sympathetic family victim you've probably seen in a while. I suppose that makes for an interesting complication, but it puts the pressure on the rest of the family to make us care.
Denton wears his victimhood well, though in a mostly invisible part. Dana Delany, who is generally so crush-worthy that once, when I caught site of her in my rear-view mirror on Ventura Boulevard, I had fleeting thoughts of stopping short to cause an accident that would allow me to meet her, is saddled with ineffectual wife status as Ellie Cain. Toward the end of the pilot, she gets one of those speeches, rife with meaning, but completely divorced from the gut-searing pain one feels when a child so much as chips a tooth.
As always in premiere season, it's good to give a show the chance to develop layers. It's completely plausible that the characters played by Hutton and Delany will develop those layers, but it's disappointing to have to wait. There was little element of escapism, particularly in Hutton's case. I always felt so conscious that it was Hutton up there on screen. (The eminently avoidable link to his career-defining Ordinary People role, through the first name of his character, doesn't help matters.)
Some of the supporting cast delivered. I've been watching Mykelti Williamson since he was billing himself as Mykel T. Williamson in his Hill Street Blues period, but I didn't have any trouble locking into his character of the bodyguard, Virgil. Williamson, along with Delroy Lindo as they-pull-me-back-in FBI agent Latimer King, commit to their roles with such forcefulness that they don't allow you to have stray thoughts about the man behind the role for any length of time. That's the difference between their performances and Hutton's.
On the other hand, at first I enjoyed Jeremy Sisto as mercenary rescuer Mr. Knapp (I guess first you're kidnapped, then you're Knapped), but as time passed, I kept waiting and wishing for the Billy Chenowith inside him to bust out. Knapp's a little straightforward. And for crying out loud, can the Cains get on a first-name basis with him and stop calling him "Mr. Knapp" already? The guy's a 21st-century rogue - you wonder if he showers more than twice a week - and they're talking to him like it's Double Indemnity.
Overall, Kidnapped lacked the punch that should be automatic for a show taking on this plotline. Even if the storyline becomes more compelling, it's that emptiness that could undermine it for good.