The Catch Review

The Catch Review: Total Lack of Surprise in New Shondaland Drama Is the Biggest Surprise of All

grade_C+There’s an implicit promise built in to ABC’s #TGIT programming block: You bring the popcorn and the red wine, and megaproducer Shonda Rhimes and her team of writers will show up with wicked, sexy, you-didn’t-see-it-coming twists. You’ll gasp, you’ll (occasionally) cry and (if you can focus on more than one screen at a time) you’ll watch your Facebook and Twitter feeds blow up with your friends’ and co-workers’ color commentary.

Which is why it’s quite disconcerting that there’s not a single significant zig or zag in the pilot episode of The Catch — which slips into How to Get Away With Murder‘s timeslot this Thursday (at 10/9c) — that hasn’t been implicitly spelled out in the network’s omnipresent ad campaign.

The Catch MIREILLE ENOSAlice Vaughan (The Killing‘s Mireille Enos) is a Los Angeles-based private investigator and corporate security expert who falls victim to a long con by her fiancé (Parenthood‘s Peter Krause). It turns out he targeted her in the hopes of getting inside intel about her big money clients — and her $1.4 million in life savings, to boot.

And… well, that’s pretty much the crux of the pilot episode (future installments of The Catch were, alas, not screened for critics). Oh, sure, the hour includes some nifty split-screen touches from director Julie Ann Robinson (Grey’s Anatomy, Suburgatory) — and an enigmatic sexiness from Krause’s duplicitous grifter — but ultimately, it fails to be anything more than a slickly filmed, appealingly casted collection of plot points telegraphed so far in advance, even Mr. Magoo could spot ’em.

It doesn’t help that while the pilot is peppered with mentions of Alice’s stellar professional reputation and in-the-field prowess, she gets repeatedly outwitted and outplayed in ways that would have fellow Shondaland residents like Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating scornfully Tweeting “#smdh.”

Early in the hour, the team’s white whale Mr. X (it spoils absolutely nothing when I tell you he turns out to be Krause’s character) uses a car alarm, a dog leash and a group of school children to thwart their attempt to catch him in the midst of snatching an ill-gotten hard drive in broad daylight — despite him sending them a warning email (“Are you ready to play?”) in the run-up to his misdeeds.

The Catch ReviewWhen the other wing-tip shoe finally drops and Alice learns “Christopher” has duped her, Enos limits her character’s emotional response to a few gasps, one slide down an office whiteboard* and the fluttering of her distractingly large false eyelashes. Perhaps this is meant to signal Alice’s steely shift into hunter-mode, but a smashed glass or a howl of fury or a quick burst of tears might’ve helped to draw the audience into her plight. (*Actually, it’s a clear board, because I guess even though it’s not really practical, it’s pretty.)

There are a few seeds planted in the course of the hour that have the potential to sprout in interesting directions: The conflict painted across Krause’s face makes plain his conman’s genuine feelings for Alice, while the implication that his boss/lover Margot (Lost‘s Sonya Walger) might be capable of having him killed for such a misstep adds a needed touch of menace to the proceedings. And Bosch‘s Rose Rollins, as Alice’s business partner Valerie, brings keen-eyed specificity to her not-particularly-defined role of BFF/moral compass.

Of course, it’s worth noting The Catch underwent some serious behind-the-scenes upheaval after it was ordered to series — most notably, Damon Dayoub (NCIS) and Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill) being replaced by Krause and Walger, and creator Jennifer Schurr exiting as showrunner — so it’s not out of the question that subsequent installments could travel to funkier, less expected places.

Whether or not the Shondaland faithful should bother sticking around for such uncertain rewards, well, that’s the catch of The Catch.

The TVLine Bottom Line: Despite the presence of Krause, Enos and Walger — all of whom have been standouts in modern TV classics — The Catch is barely worth investigating.

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  1. LADY_in_MD says:

    I appreciate your honest opinions when you do these articles I may still watch this but not in any hurry I was surprised they didn’t keep the family on Thursdays

  2. Brian says:

    I really like Mireille Enos and she looks really good in this, but wish she would have done another show on cable instead of this one. Since Scandal now sucks and isn’t a good lead in anymore and there seems to be a growing backlash against Rhimes, I don’t think this is going to be a hit.

  3. Sharron says:

    I am sorry but I don’t think either Enos or Krause, nice as they may be are balls of fire as actors. Both seem to be low key, without the under the surface drama of a Kerry Washington.

    • DL says:

      “Under the surface” isn’t really the right way to put it, I’d say. Enos and Krause are both fantastic at subtle, “under the surface” emotion — just watch Enos in The Killing or Krause in Parenthood or Six Feet Under.
      But I do think I get what you’re saying. Neither of them are really bombastic performers, and Shondaland shows tend to be extremely heightened in terms of the energy and the “emotive-ness” of the actors. This isn’t the vehicle I would like to see either of them in, either.

  4. be916 says:

    I wondered about the behind the scenes upheaval when that happened, which was around the same time as Rhimes and ABC got rid of Patrick Dempsey. Seems like Rhimes left a trail bad blood in her year of yes. She does women and feminism no justice. Her characters are horrible people in Scandal and HTWM, and they’ve sucked the life out of Grey’s keeping it on the air so long as a feeder to those other awful shows. I won’t waste my time with this one either.

    • dan says:

      She does women and feminism justice by giving great actresses complicated characters to play. I agree that her characters are horrible people on HTGAWM, but everyone is, and she still makes them compelling to watch.

      She had become a powerhouse in the film industry, that sure as hell isn’t setting women back.

    • ChicagoDan says:

      I don’t follow the behind the scenes of Shondaland, BUT she has done exactly the opposite of what you’re suggesting. The male characters are mostly passive and secondary. She has created shows with minority females as the unqualified stars. She even cut Dempsey and successfully rebooted GA with EP as the centerpiece. And other production commonly network would’ve chosen PD over EP. SR makes tough decisions and if a man did (does) the same thing, he be praised as focused, visionary, shrewd, etc.

      • deenabraun says:

        Have you noticed how the character of OP has been reduced to being secondary on her own show? Called unflattering names, written mute to defend herself? Now cast as the ‘help’? Shonda is a faux genius hell-bent on destroying Scandal out of pettiness.

    • Anna says:

      Lolz, you’re whining like Shonda Rhimes stole your lunch money or something.
      You have no idea what the original product looked like – it’s just as likely that she switched up the cast and showrunner because it just wasn’t working. I love Bethany Joy Lenz, but I really don’t think she can pull off the character that they’re describing above. And I’m not the only one that’s saying this, but this season of Grey’s is better than the show has been in 4+ years. No one’s missing Dempsey anymore.
      HTGAWM characters are awful, but they’re supposed to be awful. All of the characters are doing exactly what it says in the title – getting away with murder.
      And Shonda has created more take charge, get crap done female characters than those that exist on other network shows combined. Sometimes they’re heroes, sometimes they’re villains, and often they’re in between, but the important thing is that they are well-rounded, well-written, and well-acted, just like the roles traditionally have been for mostly men. If creating equal opportunity isn’t feminism, then I don’t know what is.

    • Luli says:

      Have you been watching Grey’s lately?? Cause it’s on fire this season.

    • David4 says:

      I don’t think you understand what feminism.

      Yes all her female characters turned out to be some horribly awful people. But where in feminism does it say that all women have to be perfect all the time? Isn’t that kind of anti-feminism?

  5. lechatnoir says:

    I like mireille.i will re watch the killing. That show is dope. This show looks like a weekly instalments for cosmopolitan magazine, Harper Buzzard and the likes. Shonda’s new shows are lacking that je ne sais kwah !

  6. LB says:

    Peter Krause is the sole reason I am eager to watch this one. I have missed him since Parenthood ended. After reading this article, it sounds like I’ll have to give this show a week or three, but you better believe I will!

    • misery chick says:

      Me too, he’s the ONLY reason! Although I’d much rather see him in a show that utilizes his strengths, something more understated, perhaps sophisticated?

  7. Kate says:

    One of the things that drives me BONKERS about all Shonda’s shows is the characters constantly march around talking about how spectacular they are at their jobs, when there’s zero proof of that. Scandal is the worst. Abby seems like a terrible press secretary, Fitz is kind of an idiot and seems to do no presidential good, etc… but they, and the other characters, love to spout off about how they’re “THE BEST DAMN [fill-in-the-blank].” Telling us that isn’t enough.

    • Cena Gomez says:

      I get your point, but leave Fitz out of it. Fitz and Huck are probably the only two characters who doesn’t say their the best. Olivia is the best in EVERYTHING, but everybody plays her for a fool, Mellie is the smartest in the room, but she always screws a plan up, Jake is the best lover (Only said by him. NO woman has ever said it), Rowan is the best Command (who spends his days creepily monitoring his daughter sex life), Charlie is the best Killer, etc. Etc. etc. And don’t get me started on the long totally played out monologues.
      If there is any justice in TV land, ABC will stop giving Shonda Rhimes shows to screw up. She has another one with her pet Scott Foley…I can’t stop laughing Scott Foley(What the actual ***)…coming out.

    • Dude says:

      I totally agree but I’d say even the characters agree that Fitz is a terrible president. He started a war for a woman. Analiese on HTGAWM is the worst at this. Everyone says she’s the best lawyer ever but her only tactics seem to be blackmailing everyone into settling.

  8. teeveenerd says:

    I’m sure Enos is nice and all, but I don’t know how she keeps getting the lead. I don’t think she can carry a show. The ads did nothing for me.

  9. Carla Krae says:

    Pilot is just a pilot. It’s always the episodes after it that make my decision.

  10. Hellas13 says:

    Did you really just hammered a show based on watching it with different actors?

  11. Cena Gomez says:

    I would rather have 20 babies without the epidural shot before I watch another Shonda Rhimes show. Scandal ruined it for me. Her shows are torture to watch. Watching a TV show shouldn’t require so much work and heartache. She’s a hack!

    • Annie says:

      I’d have 20 babies for Shonda if she asked. Lol. I’m happy to worship in the Church of Shonda.

      • deenabraun says:

        I think the Peter Principle applies to Shondaland. It’s reached its peak because writers don’t know how to write healthy, adult, loving relationships that ppl endure and conquer overcoming various obstacles because what else is there in the world besides love? Doesn’t love conquer all? … For normal ppl that is. And I think ppl are so turned off now by #509 they won’t follow any shows produced by her including The Catch.

  12. Fly Lotus says:

    Shondaland has run it’s course no one is going to support her shows anymore. She’s made a mess of Scandal and it’s unforgivable. The trust withdrawal is REAL– I wouldn’t watch this show if they put a gun to my head. Thanks for giving a honest review and not hyping something that’s not there.

  13. Annie says:

    Meh, I’m still going to watch. It never really felt like a *full* Shonda show anyways, more like a venue to test out material.

  14. DarkDefender says:

    The entire premise lends to very short storytelling. I can’t see it lasting half a season without boredom setting in. The movie Catch Me If You Can only worked because it was confined to 2 hours. I suppose Shonda can’t hit gold on everything. <– Law of averages.

  15. cuius says:

    The UK version of “The Catch” sounds more exciting:

    “The show offers an unprecedented insight into the reality of life at sea with deep-sea fishing being one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain.”

  16. Boiler says:

    Whether viewers agree with you or not after watching, it is nice to see you all write articles like these!!!!!

  17. deenabraun says:

    No, I will not watch. Shondaland is now toxic.

  18. Maryann says:

    Very short sighted review. This is an excellent example of a situation in which the pilot is likely to be very different from the series as a whole. I will watch at least two episodes before making up my mins.

    • Jane says:

      If they wanted critics to review the show based on more then the pilot they should have given them more than that to screen. You can blame the show runners for that, not Michael.

  19. Kevin says:

    Show has 86% on Rotten Tomatoes

  20. David4 says:

    The cast looks great, but the ads look sooooooo boring.

  21. tvjunkie says:

    The one question I have is who would hire a private detective who gets duped by a con artist? To me that’s a big red flag the PI is probably not that great at their job.

  22. Sheldon W. says:

    Totally surprised by your assessment.

    I found the premiere to be a lot of fun precisely because we all knew who Mr. X was before Alice – and that the set up moved the show from a cat-and-mouse scenario to a cat vs. cat one. That’s kinda nifty.

  23. schiss says:

    I watch Shonda Rhimes’ programming; however, I’m almost always able to take a 45 minute show and turn it into about 20-25 minutes…by fast forwarding thru most of the ridiculous parts. I can’t explain why I continue to watch…guess I just want to know how each episode ends!

  24. It’s so odd to see Mireille Enos all glammed up and looking too much like Debra Messing. A total turnaround from her KILLING days. Feels like she’s selling out…or feeling like she has to prove that she’s sexy…which she is.

  25. KAC24 says:

    I will watch ANYTHING with Mireille Enos in it. SO talented.

  26. I hate to see a low rating from you for this. I was excited to see Mireille Enos and I thought the premise sounded good. I’ll watch, just in case. But I usually trust your judgment.

  27. Angel says:

    Shades of Blue on NBC @ 10 is way better than HTGAWM in the same time slot. I am trying to get away from TGIT. Scandal started to go downhill in season 2 with the whole Papa Pope and B613 storyline. Shades of Blue is the best Thursday night show with fantastic acting from Ray Liotta and surprisingly J Lo.

  28. PFitzDC says:

    I love Slezak’s recaps in general, but I disagree with him here. I found it so refreshing NOT to have twisty OMG moments that become impossible to sustain over time. Plus, unlike HTGAWM (and Scandal to a large extent), the characters in this are actually likable. I found it fun and frothy and I’m in to see where it goes.

  29. BrenC says:

    I really like The Catch. As a Thursday TV viewer, its great. I have heard all the cons to this show by the critics and critics are usually wrong. They say a show stinks but the audience loves it! So just give this show a chance. You’ll see.

  30. Salona Pridgen says:

    The main character needs chapstick or something her lips are extremely distracting and they are extremely driving she really needs something done with her lip filler or something.

  31. Salona Pridgen says:

    Her dry lips are extremely Distracting From the show.

    • Rachel says:

      Lol!!! Thank u!!! So glad I’m not the only one that noticed that!! It drives me nuts!! And ur right…it is very distracting…like ewww!!!