ABC’s latest series from producer Shonda Rhimes relies too much on familiar themes.
Shonda Rhimes has become a household name in recent years, as the executive producer of several of ABC’s most successful television shows: Grey’s Anatomy,Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. So successful is Rhimes that her programs constitute ABC’s entire Thursday night line-up, which is now known as T.G.I.T. (Thank God It’s Thursday).
Rhimes’ production company, ShondaLand, specializes in suspenseful dramas full of sexual situations and instances of violence. ShondaLand’s logo is, appropriately, a theme park roller coaster, which accurately represents the twists and turns encountered in each episode. But the logo could also represent the uneasy feeling the audience gets after watching one of these shows. Recently, the March 24th premiere of ShondaLand’s newest series, The Catch, aired to a record low number of viewers. Many critics are wondering whether the Shondaland roller coaster is simply slowing down, or is experiencing some technical difficulties.
After the instant success of Scandal, ShondaLand began using the same model in creating its other series. Since then, How to Get Away With Murder and now The Catch have also been fast-paced, female-driven, sex-fueled suspense thrillers. The supporting cast of these shows are often young and attractive, which inevitably leads to sexual situations taking place in or around the workplace. The Catch, however, begins with a seemingly perfect relationship between Alice Vaughan, a private investigator, and Christopher Hall, a wealthy businessman. Alice works for a company that caters to a high-profile clientele by protecting their assets and their secrets. In the series premiere, Alice is engaged to Christopher, and everything seems perfect. What Alice doesn’t know is that Christopher is secretly a master thief who’s been conning Alice for over a year. One day, Christopher and his criminal cohorts withdraw everything from Alice’s accounts, as well as those of several of her clientele, and abruptly disappear. Upon discovering Christopher’s betrayal, Alice and her team vow to find him and make him pay. This sets up the series’ title and creates a cat-and-mouse relationship between Alice and Christopher.
Alice is a captivating yet predictable protagonist who seems the most passionate after she finds out about Christopher. Her passion is more believable when she’s at work than when she is shown being romantic with her fiancé. Even after the nature of their relationship changes, both Alice and Christopher show signs of affection toward one another in a way that feels forced. Apparently, the actor playing Christopher was changed after the original pilot episode was filmed, which called for a reshoot of the entire episode. Hopefully this series will not rely solely on the storyline between Alice and Christopher, because her character would be just as interesting if she were just a private investigator. Postponing their reunion will create more tension and will allow the audience to get to know Alice and her investigation team.
The future of this series is still up in the air. On the one hand it, follows the ShondaLand formula to a tee, but on the other hand maybe following the formula is exactly what’s wrong with The Catch. The characters are slick, confident, and smartly dressed, making them a little inaccessible to a large variety of viewers. There’s an undeniable feeling of, “I’ve seen this before,” that a casual viewer gets when watching this series. As for fans of the other Shonda Rhimes programs, they’ll feel right at home.
The Catch is rated TV-14 D L for sexual dialogue and offensive language. Offensive language was not a problem in the first episode. The main concern for parents would be the sex scenes between Alice and Christopher; even though they weren’t explicit scenes, they also weren’t included in the show’s rating. Violence is a minor concern which may change in future episodes. It’s too early to tell whether or not The Catch will catch an audience of its own.