Ten Days in the Valley
- TV Show
- run date
- Kyra Sedgwick, Erika Christensen, Malcolm-Jamal Warner
- Current Status
- In Season
We gave it a B
At the time her daughter is abducted, Jane Sadler has consumed quite a bit of red wine; she’s taken Ambien, snorted cocaine, and has spent nearly six hours in an entirely different building than her sleeping child, at times also falling asleep herself. Jane Sadler is not a flawed female protagonist — Jane Sadler is a stone-cold wreck.
She’s also super high.
Now, that’s not to say it’s Jane’s fault that her daughter was kidnapped. That would be the fault of whoever did the kidnapping, and as an audience, we’re supposed to care both about who that kidnapper might be and how Jane’s unpredictable lifestyle might have made her daughter a target. There’s the ex-husband freshly out of rehab who isn’t thrilled with the current custody agreement for their daughter, Lake. There’s the entire San Diego police department, which Jane exposed for police corruption in an Oscar-winning documentary. There’s Jane’s chipper assistant, who’s secretly sleeping with (and lying for) her husband. And there’s the policeman she keeps pilfering story lines from for the scripted cop show she created.
Jane has a lot of balls in the air, and a lot of people in her life who might want to pop them. It’s not the show’s job to make us like her, but it is the show’s responsibility to make us care about her unfortunate situation, a task greatly aided by an expert portrayer of complicated women, Kyra Sedgwick. Complication is, indeed, the name of the game when it comes to Jane’s life, so let’s comb this premiere for clues and see if we can’t establish a little work/life/TV balance.
(Let me just quickly light my writing candle for ambiance, pour my writing wine to settle my nerves, and power on this completely useless walkie-talkie — all right, here we go!)
The premiere opens with Jane trying and failing to meditate, only to come out of her mental vacation remembering that she needs to buy paper towels. Even in a show that largely focuses on the double standards against ambitious working women, this felt like the most relatable moment of the premiere.
Pete (Kick Gurry), the husband Jane is separated from, brings their daughter Lake (Abigail Pniowsky) back after spending the weekend together, and asks Jane if it would be okay for him to take Lake to their cabin in Ojai tomorrow. Jane says no because children typically go to school on Mondays and because it’s not one of his court-appointed days. Pete yells that he pees in cups for Jane and drinks tons of tea instead of snorting tons of powder now, so why can’t he illegally take his daughter out of school?! Let’s be clear: Pete sucks.
Cute li’l Lake does not suck and is perhaps the hippest 8-year-old since Punky Brewster, dancing along to Anderson .Paak’s “Come Down” while her mom works and her nanny tries to change the song before it says, “Gucci pants on, let me take these bitches off.” During bedtime reading, Lake asks her mom if they can tell secrets and confesses that sometimes when she’s with her dad, she misses Jane so much she “wants to go to heaven.” Jane assures her everything will be fine…
And everything is fine! Everything is totally fine until Jane promises Lake that she won’t leave if Lake falls asleep in her bed. When Jane makes a promise — look alive. She is not going to keep it. And when a TV show’s main character starts singing a slow a capella version of “Amazing Grace” to their precious child — look alive. Because that baby is about to get kidnapped.
Jane pops an Ambien, then then wakes up to the director of her cop show calling to tell her that she has to rewrite the pivotal love scene in the episode they’re currently filming, and she needs to do it by 4 a.m. So Jane takes a baby monitor with her, leaving Lake sleeping in her bed and the sliding door cracked open, and heads out to the shed in the backyard where she writes. As she will insist up and down later, she’s 10 feet from her daughter…who is asleep…in an unlocked house…and an 8-year-old child.
Also, Jane starts drinking wine as soon as she sits down at her computer around 10 p.m., and when that just makes her fall asleep, she calls her drug dealer PJ for a special bike delivery of Adderall. When PJ only has cocaine, she snorts said cocaine and stashes the rest in a broken guitar in her office. And, boy, does it do the trick! With a little writing advice from her friendly local drug dealer, Jane knocks out the scene by 3:30 a.m. and heads back to the house…where she finds the door she left open closed and locked. After finding all the other doors locked, Jane smashes the glass and unlocks the door from the inside, races to her bedroom, and finds that her daughter is no longer sleeping there. She’s gone. (Recap continues on next page)