Hit or Sh**: ABC’s THE CATCH
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
ABC. Like for many children, those three letters used to bring a sense of mental reassurance. They’re the foundation of cognitive and linguistic development, the earliest form of education encoded into the brain, as familiar to me as my own name. But woe! Look now how those three letters instill fear into my heart when I see them appear in the watermark at the bottom corner of my television screen. WICKED CITY. OF KINGS AND PROPHETS. DR. KEN!!!! When I drew the short straw to brave the eldritch network’s latest hellspawn, THE CATCH, my mind raced with terror and my asshole clenched with enough force to create a singularity. But orders are orders, and this soldier will die carrying out the Commander’s will if necessary.
THE CATCH starts off harmlessly enough, introducing us to Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos), a strong, independent P.I. who goes undercover to prevent thefts against her decidedly loaded clients. The teaser sequence is pretty slick by network standards, treating us to a bait-and-switch where an aspiring art thief swipes a keycard off of Alice, only to walk into an ambush that she previously arranged. As good as she is, Alice is unable to foil the latest heist by Mr. X (Peter Krause), a mysterious thief that she has repeatedly failed to capture, let alone identify. When she comes home to complain about it to her husband-to-be, the audience discovers that he is none other than Mr. X himself (!!!).
“Okay, I’ll come clean: I’m not really Jon Hamm”
To THE CATCH’s credit, it’s a really good twist, and was intriguing enough to lull me into paying attention for the next half hour. This was the adder’s gambit. It was only in the following proceedings that American Broadcasting Company’s hand was made evident. We are then presented with a titillating network sex scene involving Enos and Krause entwining necks and stroking each other’s calves. This sequence segues into the next with a Tacky and Frivolous ABC TransitionTM in the form of a hernia-inducing mirror cut, a technique that is repeated no less than a dozen more times throughout the pilot (why do studios keep doing this?).
The sudden blast of schlock acts as an RKO of taste, a betrayal of THE CATCH’s initial promise that plagues the remainder of the episode by way of lazy writing. Mr. X suddenly vanishes one day, leading Alice to realize the criminal’s identity and his ability to predict her moves, a revelation drunkenly delivered through a series of consecutive flashback sequences. She tracks him to one of her client’s galas. Of course, X remains one step ahead of the rent-a-cops by activating his trump card: Turning off the lights and running away. Just when Mr. X seems to be off the hook, Alice’s tea-and-exposition-serving temp turns out to be a hacker and “lawyer for Anonymous” that runs a deus_ex_machina.exe program to locate the former fiance (despite the entire detective agency being unable to do so for the past year).
And you thought THE REAL O’NEALS was creatively bankrupt
Watching THE CATCH feels like witnessing a criminal hanging in town square, a fool’s punishment for thinking it could get away with trying to be smart on network TV. The show brings a handful of good ideas and a great twist to an oversaturated genre, but an insipid script and sloppy execution put it six feet under before it can gain any momentum. Consider releasing this catch if it ends up on your line.
THE CATCH airs on Thursdays on NBC