With a framing device that resembles the kind used in the pilot episode of Revenge, ABC is clearly hoping for more success within the soapy thriller genre. But while Revenge might fail at being quality entertainment, it at least occasionally veers into the realm of trashy fun. This copycat is lacking in any redeeming qualities.
Photographer Sara (Hannah Ware) seems to have things pretty good. For starters, she's a photographer with a paying job in Chicago—that can be hard to come by these days. She's also married to a district attorney (Chris Johnson) with political aspirations who's paid well enough to keep them and their son in a swanky apartment. But then Sara meets Jack (Stuart Townsend) at a gallery exhibition where she's displaying photos.
Things get complicated and not at all interesting from there. Jack is the son-in-law of Chicago real estate tycoon Thatcher Karsten (James Cromwell), as well as his in-house counsel. Some ambiguous business dealings lead to Karstens' son T.J. (Henry Thomas) being investigated for murder. In the intervening time Sara and Jack progress slowly towards their inevitable affair. Later, Sara learns that her husband will be facing her new lover in the seemingly inevitable murder trial of T.J. Karsten. Such drama.
The most egregious aspects of Betrayal revolve around Sara and Jack's infidelity. The pair have absolutely no chemistry and this is only exacerbated by the painful Attack of the Clones–level romantic dialogue (instead of sand, these two drone on about water). Unfortunately, there's nothing redeeming outside their extramarital affair, either. The murder case, the only thing that makes this more than an Adrian Lyne knock-off, is so poorly developed that it's impossible to invest in it. Cromwell, the only real talent in a cast full of pretty people who struggle with basic emoting, does little but snarl at his fellow actors and look menacing.
The opening and closing footage of Sara bleeding and being placed into an ambulance appears to be an attempt to add some kind of motivation to a listless plot. Without it, Betrayal comes off as the first half of a straight-to-DVD movie. The idea that Sara will at some point in the future be in mortal danger doesn't really succeed in adding urgency to her my-husband-and-my-lover-are-going-up-against-each-other-in-court predicament. Sara is a drab, uninteresting character and no amount of peril can invest us in her manufactured plight.