Very few brands are as powerful as Shonda Rhimes’s (“Scandal”). She is so important to ABC as a network to the point where it has essentially given her a night of her own. However, “Thank God It’s Thursday” has been facing rating declines as of late. Both “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” are down double-digit percentages from where they were last season. While neither show is in range of being cancelled, “TGIT” is in desperate need of a hit that will help stabilize the night. “The Catch” is not that show. Even though it has the guise of being suave and sexy, once you actually watch it, it comes off as dull and boring.
“The Catch” follows a private detective named Alice (Mireille Enos, “The Killing”) who — get this — can’t figure out her fiance Benjamin (Peter Krause, “Parenthood”) is a con man who’s been with her to infiltrate her company. What a vocational irony-driven coinkydink! In the pilot, Krause’s character disappears on Alice, taking every trace of his existence with him. Now, she’s forced to confront her former fiance conning her as she tries to hunt him down.
The first big strike against “The Catch” is Enos’s performance, as the actress barely forms a character. She brings little charisma to a role that requires a lot of it. She’s asked to show emotion, but can’t seem to bring it to life. She has no chemistry with any of her scene partners, even Krause. It doesn’t help that she isn’t given a lot on the page with which to work. However, when you put her in a lineup with Ellen Pompeo (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) and Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), who consistently elevate their dramas with pure performance ability, she pales in comparison.
“The Catch” attempts to be slick in its production, but it just doesn’t succeed in any capacity. There are purposefully smooth cuts and some fun directorial moments from Julie Anne Robinson (“Pushing Daisies”), but once it reaches the 500 millionth stylish edit, they lose their luster. There’s also an overzealous score, which hits you over the head with every single emotional beat. I get that Alice is sad that her fiance left her, or that active manhunts can be intense, but you don’t need to have music emphasize the point with a complete lack of subtlety.
Yet “The Catch” does have some worthwhile elements. Krause, who replaced Damon Dayoub (“Stitchers”) from the original pilot, actually brings a sense of poise to Benjamin. He’s charismatic, charming and mysterious as a con man. The only genuine moments from the pilot — like when he asks Alice to run away with him before he leaves to not have to hurt her — come from his dramatic chops and delivery.
Still, Krause’s strong supporting performance is not nearly enough to salvage this show. It tries to be a show with sex appeal and smoothness, but it can’t recover from its nonsensical vocational irony narrative or a dull performance from its leading lady. ABC shouldn’t be desperate to boost its TGIT lineup yet, but this is definitely not the show with which to do that.