“The Catch” (ABC) pilot preview: After Meredith, Addison, Olivia, Annalise… now please welcome Alice!

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Also known as “Smoke and Mirrors“. Written & produced by Jennifer Schuur (Hannibal Big Love, Crash). Co-produced by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder), Betsy Beers, Helen Gregory & Kate Atkinson. Directed by Julie Anne Robinson (Grey’s Anatomy, Weeds, The Middle, One for the Money). For ABC, ABC Studios & Shondaland Productions. 63 pages.

Description: Alice Martin, a fraud investigator, fighting crime by the numbers and exposing embezzlers, money launderers and even cartels, is a partner in a Los Angeles firm and attracts top clients, which affords her a nice lifestyle she shares with her fiancé, Kieran. They are about to get married but one day he disappears with two million dollars from her bank account. Now, Alice is determined to find Kieran and the truth. Even worse, if her clients and colleagues find out that this fraud investigator was a fraud victim herself, it could mean the end of her career. The game of cat and mouse has just begin…

With Mireille Enos (The Killing US, Big Love, World War Z), Damon Dayoub, Jay HaydenElvy Yost, Rose Rollins (The L Word, Bosch), Jacky Ido (Taxi Brooklyn), Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill, Dexter), Alimi Ballard (CSI, Sabrina)…

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When you read a Shonda Rhimes-produced pilot, you can’t help comparing it to what she brought to television before. It’s a natural reaction. With How to Get Away With Murder, it was obvious: the perfect mix between Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, while still managing to be its own thing. With The Catch (or whatever it is called in the end), the most unstartling element is Jennifer Schuur, the writer who created it, has never worked for or with her in any of her previous shows and she didn’t even try to imitate her style of storytelling here. So, the question is: why did shonda Rhimes feel this idea, this pitch, fits in the Shondaland brand? As different as it may sound, it’s in the same vein as Scandal and entirely devoted to Alice Martin, a strong leading woman, brilliant at her job but who can also prove to be fragile when it comes to her messy personal life, in the same fashion as Meredith Grey, Addison Montgomery, Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating. Ultimately, like the Kerry Washington-starrer, it’s about about people hiding secrets and others finding the truth whatever it takes, while they have secrets of their own, though I have to admit a firm specialized in fraud is less sexy and catchy than Washington’s political scene. It still gives a wide playing field for the writers. The Catch comes off as a thrilling ride, but I can’t say it blew my mind… yet.

Remember when the idea of Scandal came to our attention back in 2011 and was called Damage Control at the time? A lot of people were  suspicious about it and very few people felt excited. ABC picked it up anyway but decided to launch it only in the last few weeks of the season, with 7 episodes to prove it was worth a chance. Didn’t look like a vote of confidence from the network. Everybody burried it before it even started. And when it finally did, with very little promotion, the pilot was not widely liked, neither watched. Even I -known to be a Shonda lover- thought it was not exactly what I wanted it to be -I had time to fantasize about it, nearly a year- but the following episodes were better and better, the cliffhangers were breathtaking, ratings started to take off and Scandal finally found its footing by season’s end. You know what happened after that. It became a huge success and four years later, the show is still one of the highest watched on television and the number one drama on ABC. The story could repeat itself with The Catch except now a lot of people want Shonda Rhimes to fall from grace. Badly. Because successful people are always hated at some point, because Scandal is hitting a rough patch story-wise and because she can’t stop killing characters on Grey’s Anatomy. She’s still the queen, haters!

A few pages in, one character from Alice’s team -Maria, a brilliant newbie- asks another -James, a 30 year old who just came out of the closet- “How do you explain your job to people?“. His answer is: “I tell them it’s solving crime, but with numbers“. It’s exactly what it is, but it’s still hard to understand how. Don’t be afraid, Jennifer Schuur did a great job making it easy to follow. The case they’re investigating in the pilot is okay, with a fair amount of twists and turns, but it’s the way Alice kicks ass all along to find the truth that is the most fun to watch. And she doesn’t mind spreading her legs if she needs to. Or hurting someone in the process. Of course, the most interesting part is the cat and mouse game between our heroin and her slippery fiancé. To put the puzzle together, we are helped through flashbacks from the time they were happy and full of hope for the future. Or so it seems. They were already lying to each other. A lot. Still, many pieces are missing. Alice remains a mystery in the end of the pilot. Who is she? Not the woman she pretends to be, that’s for sure. When the FBI gets involved, she’s the mouth caught in her own trap. And Kieran is not ready to let her go this easily either… It’s a great role for Mireille Enos. I’m a huge fan of her work in Big Love and The Killing US and Alice is very different from what she has already played. Can’t wait watching her nailing it!

ABC has a lot of exciting stuff coming out of this pilot season. The Catch is not their pilot script I liked the most. Quantico & Original Sin have stronger hooks and feel more exciting for the long haul. If it was not produced by Shonda Rhimes, I’m not sure ABC would have picked it up to series (I assume they will whatever happens). That being said, it would match pretty well with Scandal on Thursday night and I’m all for it joining “TGIT” when How To Get Away With Murder‘s second season is done by February. It’s simply where it belongs and where it has the biggest chance to spark with the audience. Doing only 8-10 episodes to begin with couldn’t hurt it from a creative point of view. The Catch is a no-brainer. Let the game begins!

6 comments

  1. A says:

    Wednesday at 10 also will be good for show. Boom on Mondays at 10, Quantico on Tuesdays at 9, and Original Sin on Sundays at 9. Runner with 10-episodes in mid-season on Thursday.

    • Lulla says:

      Castle will probably stay on Monday. And ABC may add a comedy block on Tuesday… I don’t think they will launch 4 new dramas this fall. Three at best.
      I would agree with you for “Original Sin” and “Quantico” though.

      • TVNerd says:

        What else do you see them picking up besides Quantico and Original Sin…I think The Catch is destined for the How to Get Away with Murder slot…so that leaves 1 or 2 more dramas for fall and possibly 1 more for spring in addition to the Catch…

        Also, any comedy buzz you hearing…I’m hoping the Nerd Herd, Dr. Ken and Delores & Jermaine get picked up!

        • Lulla says:

          I’m a bit worried about Quantico, which doesn’t seem to have that much buzz lately… I think ABC will go with “Kings And Prophets” too. “Runner” might get a spot at mid-season. There’s the “Agents of SHIELD spin-off” to replace “Agent Carter”. “Boom” or “Broad Squad” might be ordered too.
          “Nerd Herd” doesn’t have any buzz sadly. “Dr Ken” and “Delores & Jermaine” have a real shot”. “The Muppets” is a sure thing. “The Real O’Neals” and “Chevy” are looking good.

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