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‘Runaway’: Run Far, Far Away

If you cross The Fugitive–about a guy wrongly accused of murder, trying to solve the case on the run–with Running on Empty–about a family on the run from the parents’ radical activist past–then you’ve got CW’s new drama Runaway.

The seemingly normal Holland family–Dad, Mom, three kids and a minivan–has just moved to a small town in Iowa–except their last name isn’t Holland. It’s Rader. And they haven’t come to this small Midwestern town because they want some peace and quiet. They are on the run. Seems Paul Rader (Donnie Wahlberg), a former lawyer, has been falsely accused of murdering one of his associates, and to add insult to injury, the real murderer has also threatened to kill his family. Why? It hasn’t been explained. Yet.

Paul’s wife Lily (Leslie Hope) cuts her hair real short and tries to keep their stories straight as well as her brood in line. They include teenagers Henry (Dustin Milligan) and Hannah (Sarah Ramos) and 8-year-old Tommy (Nathan Gamble). Henry’s pretty put off by having his life uprooted, while the snarky Hannah sees it as a chance to reinvent herself. Little Tommy just can’t remember which lies to tell. In the meantime, Paul is constantly looking over his shoulder, all while furiously trying to figure out who framed him (the set-up and murder told through flashbacks, of course), while the family, which was much more fractured at one time, now has serious talks about sticking together so they can all get through this. Ho hum.

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You’d think coming from Sex and the City creator Darren Star, Runaway could be spiced up a little. The show’s premise has a bit of promise, but instead the proceedings stick to the formulaic, never really offering anything you can sink your teeth into.

Half of the fault also comes from the actors, who all seemed kind of bored. As the patriarch, Wahlberg (Band of Brothers) wants to appear moody and intense, speaking in a harsh whisper most of time, but doesn’t really accomplish his task, while Hope (24) never shows any emotion of any kind. It looks like the only excitement we might get is from the two teenage kids, especially Ramos (American Dreams), whose surly and wisecracking attitude towards her predicament is Runaway’s only refreshing quality.

Bottom Line: Peppered with lackluster performances and a hybrid of mediocre plotlines, you probably won’t want to catch Runaway anytime soon.

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