Utter CHAOS! Is CBS' New Spy Dramedy Indeed the Work of a 'Misguided Masochist'?

CBS, the home to so many nitty-gritty cop dramas, is trying something a bit different with CHAOS, its new piece of Fridays-at-8/7c programming. But as my 8-year-old son will tell you when I labor to have him sample a new food, “different” can be an acquired taste.

CHAOS presents Freddie Rodriguez (Six Feet Under) as a spanking-new CIA recruit assigned by prickly boss man Kurtwood Smith (Robocop) to the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services division (see titular acronym, forgiving the “H”). There, his team mates include Eric Close (Without a Trace), James Murray (Primeval) and Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou), while Carmen Ejogo (Kidnapped) plays another peer (and possible paramour).

TVLine gave CHAOS boss Tom Spezialy — previously an exec producer on such shows as Desperate Housewives and Reaper — a chance to address his critics, champion his cast, and serve up 10 reasons to give his action-dramedy a try.

TVLINE | So, according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s TV critic, you are a “misguided masochist” for daring to merge whimsical comedy with a CIA procedural. Thoughts?
[Laughs] I’m going to ask you: Is he wrong?

TVLINE | Well, “masochist” can be a strong word.
It is a real challenge to blend the two, so that is a keen observation.

TVLINE | What did you set out to do with CHAOS?
The goal was to blend comedy, drama, action, buddy comedy and a bit of procedural. When I worked on Desperate Housewives, we blended several genres; Reaper blended buddy comedy and horror comedy; and Chuck [where Spezialy was briefly a consulting producer] is a bright, aggressive form of this genre of CIA dramedy. I love Chuck, but we’re not trying to be that show. That’s not our wheelhouse.

TVLINE | As I watched CHAOS, I at times felt it was a slightly straighter Spies Like Us.
Spies Like Us was basically an homage to the Hope-Crosby movies, so there’s a bit of that in there, you’re right. What you had there were larger-than-life stories driven by the charm of the characters, and that’s what I’m hoping we deliver. I’ve got four great actors, and I know I enjoy writing for them. These guys really like each other and have been in the business long enough to appreciate a good gig.

TVLINE | One quibble I myself had was the pilot’s use of a conveniently sanitized, non-lethal electricity-zapper “bomb” to knock out an army of bad guys.
They actually have that technology. Listen, there are plenty of TV shows right now that emphasize dead bodies and gruesome deaths…. Part of the inspiration for this show was Richard Lester’s [1974 film] The Four Musketeers, and that was basically heroics and adventure and camaraderie; it’s not about dealing death or showing a brutal reality.

TVLINE | What other missions do the guys have coming up?
They manage to get their way into North Korea without an exit strategy, and there’s a fun in that; they have dealings in a sliver of lawless land called Transnistria, which is a split-off from when the Soviet Union collapsed and currently is 15 square miles of weapons caches; they go into Russia, where you think the Cold War is over, but the risk of being caught is still very real….

TVLINE | Good thing they have Tim Blake Nelson on hand as the unassuming but self-described “human weapon.”
He has transformed himself. He’s been training, and he’s quite marvelous. I think his next career might be as an action hero!

For good measure, Spezialy’s team emailed us Top 10 reasons to tune into CHAOS. Do you think you might check it out?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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27 Comments
  1. timotey says:

    Please, let the show work. Don’t let the ratings be a disaster *crosses fingers* This show seems like a hoot. In a sea of boring shows that popped up this season, let this one be a gem, both plot and ratings-wise.

    • Suncatcher says:

      A bunch of us watched CHAOS last night and LOVED IT! CBS said this would be a “comedy drama” – they were right! Great cast. Great writing. Great chemistry (nothing but net)! Great show! Can’t wait for next week! (No, we do NOT work for CBS)!

      Give it a try, folks! One of those rare pilots that really is good.
      You can catch the entire episode online at CBS.com.

  2. Kane says:

    They have a point with number 2… but then I could just watch a saved episode of Hawaii Five-0 where the good guys not only look fantastic while winning but also have large enough VPLs that we’ve renamed the show Bulge. Have they got anyone that can, er, ‘measure up’ to Alex O?

  3. I_Captain Blanco says:

    My biggest problem about this show is that when I hear the title in context of a spy/adventure/whimsical comedy, I immediately think of KAOS from “Get Smart” (yes, I’m THAT old). I know it’s no tspelled the same, but still – !

  4. Liza180 says:

    I’ll watch anything with Tim Blake Nelson…he is brilliant. Looking forward to this one.

  5. GeekGirl13 says:

    For myself (and a few sisterz) I will add in Reason 11. Eric Close playing Michael Wise…uhm…Dorset.

    Also for myself, reasons 12, 13, and 14. James Murray, Freddie Rodriguez, and Tim Blake Nelson.

  6. Alice says:

    I’ll watch because I’ve missed Freddie Rodriguez ever since he left Ugly Betty. And it gives me something to watch before Fringe that isn’t Kitchen Nightmares, blech.

    • meliot says:

      @Alice – Agreed!

    • sashay says:

      Yes, I think it is the perfect appetizer before watching Fringe or Supernatural. I was a huge fan of Reaper, and the earlier days of Chuck & Desperate Housewives, so I think it has a good pedigree. Not to mention the superlative cast. I will definitely try out a few episodes first, despite the fact that it’s on the “anti-womens network” CBS.

  7. I beg to differ on point #8 on your Ten Reasons list. Chuck has Casey (Adam Baldwin), who is a human weapon. An argument could be made that Chuck himself is, too, because of the intersect, but Casey has always been lethal.

    • Rowan says:

      You are absolutely right. Casey is a human weapon and Chuck most certainly is because of the intersect giving him physical fighting abilities to suit any situation. I love Casey.

  8. Ashley says:

    Freddy Rodriguez could be reading the phone book and he’d find a way to make it entertaining. The fact that the premise seems like something I’d enjoy is just a bonus. I’ll definitely be tuning in for this.

  9. Amanda says:

    I’ll watch anything with James Murray (miss him on Primeval!!) or Freddy Rodriguez, but BOTH in one show? I can’t wait!

  10. Piaffe says:

    I didn’t need a Top 10 list – they had me snagged the minute they put Eric Close and James Murray in the same show. (They also got my vote 15 seconds after that when I discovered that Murray’s character is a Scot – for a “Primeval” fan who gave up after series 1 and 2, the idea of Stephen Hart working in the CIA with Nick Cutter’s accent is too much to pass up!) Please people, let’s give this one a fighting chance!

    • Sally says:

      So glad to read a comment from another Primeval fan! James Murray is the sole reason I checked out CHAOS (and the brilliant accent, Cutter would have a laugh) and now I’m hooked. It’s a great show, it just needs time to grow!

  11. Juliab says:

    Eric Close and Freddy Rodriguez, I’ll be watching.

  12. David says:

    April Fool?

  13. Elaine says:

    Hoping the show is awesome. But as to number 8. One word. Guerrero

    • sashay says:

      I did think that myself. Sadly, it looks like Human Target may not be long for this world, so they probably won’t be competing characters.

    • Fen says:

      @Elaine Agreed! Guerrero is awesome! But, I have to also add that I would watch anything with Freddy Rodriguez. Having watched the show last night, I’d have to say it definitely was not a ‘cookie-cutter’ procedural…something I truly appreciate!

  14. Gemma says:

    I’ve been an Eric Close fan for years, plus, the previews look so good. I’ll be watching!

  15. als says:

    this show was pretty terrible last night. hopefully it will get better with time.

  16. Suncatcher says:

    TO: CHAOS boss, Tom Spezialy
    FROM: CHAOS VIEWERS
    RE: THANK YOU FOR A GREAT NEW SHOW!

    Your 10 reasons for watching CHAOS last night were spot on! You delivered everything you said you would. (Loved the “human weapon”)!
    This cast is FANTASTIC – and has a ton of chemistry – and where have you seen THAT lately??? The show premise is totally refreshing!

    We will be watching next week!

    PS – We also appreciated a procedural that doesn’t drown us in blood and guts but still packs in the action. That was a really fast hour!

  17. suzyku says:

    We loved this show! I have a feeling that it will just get better and better and it was already really really good to begin with! I hope it makes it.

  18. Jennifer says:

    I loved this show. Fun and entertaining. Can’t wait for more!

  19. CE says:

    I tuned in to see the ‘fine looking specimen’ Eric Close. Totally worth it. Hooked on the writing and the characters, hope it does well in the ratings!

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