TV Review - The Catch

This TV series takes the time-slot of How To Get Away With Murder and it follows Scandal on ABC's Thursday night line-up overseen by producer Shonda Rhimes. Unfortunately, while it mimics the structures, tropes and the aesthetics of those aforementioned shows, it doesn't embrace the substances. The characters for example in this show are nowhere near as interesting. By comparison, all the characters here are rather boring. Unlike the other, female protagonists from Shonda Rhimes' shows, the one here starts in a place of weakness. She's shown to be good at her job, but, in a way she starts out as a kind of victim.

Mirielle Enos (Big Love and The Killing) stars as Alice Vaughan, a lead investigator at a private firm in Los Angeles. She's the head of a team that does personal detective-work as well as corporate security. It's not unlike Olivia Pope's gladiators at OPA. She's engaged to a man named Christopher Hall. She balances planning her wedding with her current case, which is chasing a thief called "Mr. X."

Peter Krause (Six Feet Under and Parenthood) co-stars as Ben Jones. Yet, that name isn't who he's introduced as. He's first introduced as "Mr. X" and then immediately he's introduced again as Christopher Hall. Ben is both men and neither. He's a tall, handsome, hirsute con-artist, and the audience is aware of his deception, only moments before Alice is.

Alice comes home one day and finds out he's gone and she's been robbed of money and secrets from her job. Once Alice realizes her fiance was manipulating her, she sets out to find and arrest him. She continues to take on cases-of-the-week, while he continues to be a con-artist and steal from people.

Last year, Will Smith was in a film called Focus where he played a charismatic con-artist who led a team of con-artists. It started off with him duping a beautiful woman and it followed the romance between them. This series could have been like the film just spread out over three months. Yet, Focus made both people con-artists. This series only has Ben be the con-artist, while Alice is basically the cop.

This already handicaps the series, meaning it can never be truly as fun. Alice as a female detective isn't as uninhibited as Kalinda in The Good Wife or Jessica in Marvel's Jessica Jones, so the chase will never be as intriguing or as morally grey. She's more like Joan Watson in CBS' Elementary, but Joan is freer than Alice because she's not romantically linked to the male lead.

It's not to say that a female protagonist shouldn't be romantically linked to a bad guy who's also a protagonist. It's not to say that it's sexist or anything. It was actually one of the most compelling things about Showtime's Homeland. Unfortunately, this series might run into the same problem as Homeland. It's doubtful the series will turn Alice into a con-artist, so either they'll have to turn Ben into a good guy or eliminate him by jail or death.

The question is how long will the series drag this out. Maybe the series will find a balance the way Dexter did, but if the series ends several seasons later or whenever how Dexter did, then it will be the worst Shonda Rhimes show thus far.

Like all Shonda Rhimes shows, it has a very attractive and very diverse cast, including Rose Rollins as Valerie, the African-American founder of Alice's private-eye firm, Anderson Investigations. There's also Jay Hayden who plays Danny Yoon, a half-Korean employee of Alice. Alimi Ballard plays Reggie, an African-American thief working with Ben, as well as Jacky Ido who plays Agent Dao, an actual African who is also chasing after "Mr. X."

The cast isn't the problem. The writing is. The first, two cases in the second and third episodes are the lamest things ever presented in a Shonda Rhimes show. The second episode features an incredibly weak, murder mystery. The third episode features an even weaker drug-company scandal. Both only invoke yawns and extreme disinterest.

It simply doesn't have the energy of How To Get Away With Murder or Scandal. It's not that every Shonda Rhimes show needs to be hyper or super twisty from moment-to-moment, but there's nothing here otherwise that grabs me. If it survives to a second season, I might be curious to see where it goes.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays at 10PM on ABC.


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