If you don’t get enough ranting and raving about how the government is in shambles on the news, you can always tune in CBS’s new show “Chaos” to get your fill of red tape and budget cuts.


Fridays at 8 p.m.

Rick Martinez (Freddy Rodriguez, “Six Feet Under”) has prepared his whole life to join the CIA, but when the day finally comes, Director Higgins (Kurtwood Smith, “That ’70s Show”) informs him that his position has been cut. Instead, he offers Rick a job as an in-house spy to keep watch over a group of rogue operatives.

Thus begins the whirlwind of earned trust, then betrayal, then earned trust again. The whole premise of “Chaos” is not knowing who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, thinking you’ve figured it out and then being wrong. In the pilot, Rick and the rogue operatives embark on an unauthorized trip to Syria to rescue a kidnapped journalist, in a mission the CIA felt was not worth the reward. The CIA is supposed to be the pinnacle of U.S. intelligence and honor, but in the world of “Chaos,” it’s plagued with bureaucracy, internal spying and secret deals.

On the surface, “Chaos” is a critique of modern government. Coming right on the heels of a near-government shutdown, it arrives at a time when our faith in Washington is already in short supply. “Chaos” exaggerates this feeling with its story elements, including a security breach that results in a new employee being mistaken for a terrorist and setting co-workers up in treasonous situations for blackmail.

But, while a critique of bureaucracy on the outside, “Chaos” is a hollow piece of television on the inside. For moments that are probably supposed to be funny read as awkward and uncomfortable, only a handful of jokes really work. The plot takes several twists and turns, but it twists and turns the same way every time. Just when Rick thinks he has found someone he can trust, he is duped once more. It’s an hour of watching this guy get played by every side over and over.

It’s bizarre, but all the characters in “Chaos” look almost exactly the same. Of the rogue squad, three of the four are generic handsome men with tan skin and short brown hair. They may represent different races and nationalities, but they still look like a Calvin Klein ad. While they’re definitely pretty and talented actors, it’s annoying when you have to spend a few seconds of each scene figuring out who’s who.

Still, the show has plenty of potential. Future episodes take place in exotic locales, uncommon in the economically conservative world of television. Rick and his crew will continue to undermine the restrictive and ineffective policies of the CIA and go on kick-ass missions in order to do what’s right. “Chaos” might get preachy at time, but it’s worth watching a few episodes to see when it gets its footing.

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