Vanished Headline Goes Here
Slouching in the footsteps of previous FOX action-soaps 24 and Prison Break, Murdoch's network starts its fall season off with kidnapping drama Vanished (FOX Mondays, 9-10 PM ET/PT - premieres August 21, 2006). After the trophy wife of a U.S. Senator vanishes from a charity function, the series' titular promise fulfilled, a massive manhunt ensues. Like its sudsy forebears, the pilot for Vanished implies Dan-Brown-lite intrigue that rises to the highest seats of power. But unlike them Vanished doesn't really have a gimmick. It isn't even the only kidnapping drama premiering this season (see: NBC's Kidnapped). In the first episode at least, this leads to some scenes straight from the CSI’s procedural-drama cliché book. Fancy detective work takes precedence, and nobody really seems too worried about the missing lady.

The FOX press release says that "everyone has a secret" on

Vanished. Sure, maybe, but it's not clear that any of them are much fun. Our hero seems to be Graham Kelton (Queer as Folk's Gale Harold), a predictably haunted FBI Agent in charge of finding Sara Collins (Joanne Kelly), the second wife of Republican Senator from Georgia Jeffrey Collins (John Allen Nelson). To find her, Kelton and his token sidekick Asian Agent Len Mei (Ming-Na) first have to sort out the stories on the rest of the Senator's family. Not only is his ex-wife somehow involved in his current wife's disappearance but their daughter (Margarita Levieva) who was last seen with her dim boyfriend (Chris Egan) and now isn't answering her phone either. And that's not all! Representing the fourth estate in this tale is 'tough as nails' lady reporter Judy Nash (Noxema Girl Rebecca Gayheart) and her camera-boy-toy (Robert Hoffman) who will so obviously do anything to get their story. And let's not even get to the Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing, numerous numerically tatooed dead folk, stolen identities, gratuitous side boob, a sniveling mama's boy or the mysterious pregnancy test because really, you can imagine.

The comparrison between

Vanished and its "same pitch, different show" sibling Kidnapped is an interesting one. Where NBC's show is tight and dark and seems deeply committed to its 'one season, one mystery' MO, Fox's offering is less so. While the show is sprawling and glossy, it wouldn’t be surprising if the kidnapping premise goes out the window mid-season if a better story presents itself. That kind of flexibility makes sense considering the sheer number of longform dramas that failed last season—Reunion and Invasion to name a few—and continue to emerge up in the wake of ABC'S hugely successful Lost.