Fox is getting a jump on the fall season, premiering this show more than a month before some shows are starting on other networks. The season premiere of Prison Break is tonight as well, and the network is clearly banking on the appeal of Vanished to the same people who enjoy the serialized, conspiracy-laden style of Prison Break. And the two shows do have something in common, in that they set up poorly conceived grand conspiracies that don't seem like they'll hold up over the course of multiple episodes (in this case, a Senator's wife goes missing, kicking off a series of head-slapping revelations that nothing is as it seems!). I may have given up on Prison Break, but I'd still be willing to bet it's more exciting than this show, which is full of stilted dialogue and wooden acting (Rebecca Gayheart is particularly awful as an ambitious reporter) and pales in comparison to NBC's very similar Kidnapped, which isn't even all that good.
Even though this is part of the new trend of serialized shows that follow one event over the course of the whole season, it's got a very pedestrian, procedural feel about it, and there's none of the exciting intrigue that makes shows like Lost or 24 or even Prison Break addictive week after week. The characters are boring, and if we can't care about them, then it's hard to care about the mysterious things that may be happening to them. Like anything, the serialized, single-event concept will become formulaic with overuse, and this show is merely one of the first signs of that happening. Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m.