RogerBW's Blog

The Catch season 1 04 July 2017

2016 caper show, 10 episodes. Alice Vaughan, private investigator, discovers her fiancé was a con artist stealing from her firm. But in spite of all that, neither of them is quite ready to break things off.

This is a Shonda Rhimes show, which means that a certain amount of generic network TV crap has already been removed: characters' strengths are largely independent of, though flavoured by, what sex they are, and there's an array of skin colours and sexual orientations. That in itself is worth a fair bit. Beyond it things get a little weaker, as the show tries to do a little too much; it's going for Thin Man-style romantic fencing between the leads, but at the same time it's trying to be a caper show, or (too often) two separate caper shows.

A typical mid-season episode sees Vaughan's firm investigating a case of the week, while the crooks continue one of their ongoing plots; Vaughan, although a competent investigator in her own right, needs something from the man we eventually discover is called Ben to solve the case, and manages to interfere with the criminal scheme too, while managing to continue the relationship. It starts to feel rote at times, but mostly it works.

The axis of the show, though, is Vaughn, and it's interesting to note that her character was substantially revised after the original pilot: she was originally intended to be a mousy buttoned-down woman for whom the romance with Ben was the one trace of excitement in her life, but instead she was pepped up and made much more of an active presence; the show is her story more than it is Ben's. I applaud this decision; I really don't think it would have worked with her as a passive partner.

The cast is generally competent, let down slightly by John Simm playing the same character he always plays, but Sonya Walger as Ben's partner in crime is particularly worth watching. The show's tone wanders between light-hearted and deadly serious, and it doesn't always manage the transitions well (just like its trademark urban-landscape dissolves), but when it gets things right it does it very well. Shame it's such a mixed bag; overall I found it just barely worth watching.

The series was renewed for a second season.

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 12:41pm on 04 July 2017

    An observation. Was your last sentence meant as an illustration of not managing a transition through deflating the mostly positive overall review to the rather negative conclusion?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 12:44pm on 04 July 2017

    No, but I wasn't aiming for such a transition. The show is a mixed bag all through, and the review is intended to be similar.

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