Parents fret, grieve in TV's 'Ten Days,' 'Wisdom'

(CNN)Parents of victimized children -- one missing, the other murdered -- are at the heart of two dramas debuting Sunday, ABC's serialized "Ten Days in the Valley" and CBS' tech-informed procedural "Wisdom of the Crowd." While each show boasts a cable-credentialed stars in Kyra Sedgwick and Jeremy Piven, neither makes much of a case for a spot in anybody's DVR lineup.

Writers are often counseled to write about what they know, advice that "Ten Days in the Valley" creator Tassie Cameron has wedded with every parent's nightmare: an eight-year-old child who suddenly, inexplicably, disappears. The result is a dark, uneven series, most notable for Sedgwick's post-"The Closer" return to TV.
Sedgwick plays Jane Sadler, the producer of a popular TV cop show. She's working late out back in her home office when her young daughter vanishes, setting in motion an investigation and laying bare aspects of her life and the lives of those around her, including her sister (Erika Christensen) and estranged husband (Kick Gurry).
    With its central mystery, this 10-part series feels like this year's iteration on ABC's "Secrets & Lies," only with a conspicuous inside-Hollywood twist. Indeed, even the detective who catches the case ("Lost's" Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a bright spot) is familiar with Sadler's series, which provides the usual hotbed of insecurities and alliances.
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    TV shows about TV have an iffy track record to begin with, but the overlap here is meta in the extreme. For the writing staff, working on material that strikes so close to home is surely cathartic, but that doesn't make an extended stay in this "Valley" more enticing.
    Nothing is more manipulative, of course, than imperiled children, which explains why "Wisdom of the Crowd" also uses an emotionally wounded parent -- in this case, one grieving over his daughter's murder -- as its jumping-off point.
    Transforming his pain into action, Silicon Valley genius Jeffrey Tanner (Piven) sets about employing his crowdsourcing app to solve the case, working from the theory a million minds are better than one.
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    Richard T. Jones, meanwhile, fields the rather thankless role of the sober-minded detective trying to corral this fast-talking mogul and curb his impulsiveness, which starts when he offers a huge reward to find his kid's killer. Because this is a TV show, that balloons into a larger do-gooder scheme, one that envisions leveraging the app's potential to revolutionize crime-fighting (doesn't it always?).
    The premise feels a trifle half-baked logistically, but the notion of turning to technology to thwart crime has certainly been popular of late, from Fox's "APB" (canceled after one season) to CBS' "Person of Interest," which enjoyed a more expansive run.
    CBS is no doubt hoping "Wisdom of the Crowd" downloads the latter's longevity, but based on an initial sampling, the reward for tuning in is modest at best.
    "Wisdom of the Crowd" and "Ten Days in the Valley" premiere Oct. 1 at 8 and 10 p.m., respectively, on CBS and ABC.