Kidnappings, or child abductions, always have been popular with local newscasts in large part because of the emotional outpouring that accompanies them. In scripted drama, as well, depicting some innocent snatched and endangered evokes a more visceral response than, say, even TV homicides, which have become increasingly commonplace and graphic.
Interestingly, “Kidnapped,” like its namesake novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, forgoes most of the easy emotional exploitation inherent in the crime and concentrates on a superbly constructed and unpredictable tale of intrigue and mystery. Even the young victim doesn’t sit around, bound and gagged, begging for sympathy. He is, instead, a bright adolescent keenly alert to any possibility of escape. All of this, plus one of TV’s finest casts, makes “Kidnapped” one of the best of the new crop of serialized dramas.
Timothy Hutton and Dana Delany play Conrad and Ellie Cain, a wealthy if not particularly affectionate couple with three children. Their eldest daughter is away at college and the two younger ones lead sheltered lives of privilege, including a bodyguard (Mykelti Williamson) who accompanies them to private school in the chauffeured limo.