Here, the prolific author is once more working from a guide, this time C.J. Box’s “The Highway” novels. The story focuses on a pair of teenage sisters who get kidnapped in rural Montana, progressively peeling again layers to disclose a menacing, hidden underbelly of the heartland.
A topnotch forged helps elevate the fabric, with Ryan Phillippe as Cody Hoyt, a personal eye engaged in a mini-soap opera involving his estranged spouse Jenny (Katheryn Winnick), an ex-cop, and his enterprise associate Cassie (Kylie Bunbury). The three get drawn into the bigger plot when the kids — on a street journey to go to the Hoyts’ son — are snatched by a predator.
File that sequence beneath the heading of “Teenagers do dumb things in movies and TV,” violating guidelines about unusual truck drivers and turning off the principle freeway onto lonely again roads. The entire factor has an unlucky, barely uncomfortable slasher-movie vibe.
Concern about their disappearance brings the personal investigators into contact with an area freeway patrolman (the all the time glorious John Carroll Lynch), and begins to drag again the curtain on what a headline summarizes as rural Montana’s “abduction problem.”
The pulpy, serialized plot has extra of a cable texture, definitely in comparison with procedural community dramas. That mentioned, the women-in-peril facet is simply one of many methods wherein the set-up comes throughout as dated — together with a disturbing character (Brian Geraghty) with mommy points — veering nearer to what appears like “The Silence of the Lambs” territory than the wide-open areas.
That’s offset, to some extent, by the power of the feminine characters, together with Winnick (“Vikings”) and Bunbury (“Pitch”), who even have interaction in a bar brawl in the course of the early going.
The concept of darkish secrets and techniques in small cities is as outdated because the hills (or the “Twin Peaks), and “Big Sky” possesses its share of throwback qualities.
Still, Kelley’s writing deftly pulls the audience along from twist to twist, at least through the two episodes previewed. How well that bodes for the long haul remains to be seen, but at least out of the gate “Big Sky” gets considerable mileage out of this premise, turning a misguided detour into what looks like a very dark trip.
“Big Sky” premieres Nov. 17 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC and will probably be accessible the following day on Hulu.