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Monday, April 18, 2016

Thomas Crown? No? But I Like The Pierce Brosnan Remake. Three Week Roundup Review: The Catch #TheCatch #ABC #Shondaland #3weekroundup

Thomas Crown? No? But I Like The Pierce Brosnan Remake. Three Week Roundup Review: The Catch #TheCatch #ABC #Shondaland #3weekroundup

All pictures courtesy of ABC unless otherwise noted 

It's that time once again. Finally, after purging myself of most of the postmortem season reviews for the mid-season replacement shows I watched, I can get back to doing some other posts. A potato planting post is coming soon for those of you who are following my gardening advice. Also, there should be a supplies post for stuff you might want to get before the season kicks into gear. But for now, we've got a few new very late season additions, including ABC's new The Catch (#TheCatch). Remember, Scandal also premiered very late in the season. Does Shonda keep a steady track record of late premieres turned potential phenomenon or is The Catch a dud similar to Off The Map? Let's find out together.

Redhead Alert! 
The Catch centers around Alice Vaughan played by the always lovely Mireille Enos of The Killing fame. The head of her own private investigation firm, she specializes in protection and fraud investigation rather than the run-of-the-mill cheating spouse cases. For those not in the know, private investigators often do a lot more than follow people; in fact, many rich and famous persons hire firms to do thorough background checks on new contacts. Many political candidates keep high-class PI firms on retainer as a rule to help them vet potential "friends and donors." Alice runs a firm of that caliber based in LA. Shonda has a knack for basing her shows in big cities ripe for scandal and high-class intrigue. Rarely, however, has she tackled what some refer to as "The Two Bigs," New York and Los Angeles. Seeing as how it is the land of the rich and famous, this opens the door for potentially huge guest stars if the creator and showrunners ever decide to take the show that way.

Alice, as the lead investigator and head of the company is at the top of her game as shown in the opening moments of the series premiere. Thinking she's an art gallery worker, one of the partiers at the gallery opening speaks/flirts with her about a painting upon which the show is partially based. In this famous painting a woman is shown being taken in rapture by a lover whose face is turned away from the viewers' gaze as he buries himself within her neck. The sadness of the painting is that the woman doesn't appear too taken by her lover's passion, instead giving back a sad, almost depressed look as she cradles the nape of his neck. The man explains to Alice that he believes the woman is saddened not because she doesn't enjoy her lover but because she knows and realizes that love is the greatest con of all, a cheap parlor trick that lasts but a vapors stay (ooo! I went all fancy with it. Yeah, remember I am still an actual writer. I'm capable of more than just this silly blog). Before ever celebrating the capture of such euphoric feelings she mourns the loss of them, not to protect herself from ever falling in love again, but to remind herself never to take it for granted. This may seem off-topic but it plays heavily into the thrust of the show.

This photo was taken off someone's twitter feed and is the painting in question. 

When Alice tells him that what they're viewing in the gallery is a fake and takes him back to the real one locked in the back, she lets him slip off her security badge to go steal the painting. A thief, the man cuts the real painting from the canvas, rolls it and stuffs it into his jacket. The plan all along, Alice, her team and the cops catch him outside red-handed on the red carpet as she throws him down to the ground and cuffs him (note: PIs are not allowed to arrest people).

Her show-'em-you-a-badass moment nailed, in the very next scene we are inundated with talk of her forthcoming nuptials and her black business partner Valerie Anderson. In a few months Alice is set to marry one of the most charming men she's ever met. Loyal, honest and a business owner, her man understands her and fully understands her disdain for all things traditional wedding, but it is the jaded, soon-to-be-divorced Anderson who pushes her to do things the traditional way: the cake, the gown, the big show of affection.

From Left to Right: Alice, Valerie, Danny, Sophie
Rounding out her personal team is Danny Yoon her personal assistant and constant law breaker who only does bad things for good reasons and with his boss' blessing. She also has a new add to her team in Sophie Novak a lawyer with a myriad of specialties that will be revealed throughout the series just as her background in computer hacking was in the second episode. Essentially she is like the Huck to Alice's Olivia to put it in Scandal terms (though I doubt she goes as far as to kill). They assist her with anything and everything and aren't tethered to a desk as Alice works to prevent her clients from being conned. While they work their normal routine cases, forever seeking to expand their client base, the one gotcha case that keeps coming back resurfaces with yet another game.

Technically, the gotcha case isn't just a case but a person, someone very skilled and crafty in the game of sabotage, thievery and manipulation. A master con-artist, the person sends them a message nearly each time they get ready to make a big move. In the form of a riddle or clue, one would suspect him of being The Riddler--where the hell is Batman when you need him? Oh right, trying to kill Superman. I forgot. Anyway, not only have Alice and her team never captured this person but they've never actually seen him and don't know what he looks like. Still, they've chased him on multiple big jobs for months, dating back to before Alice hired Sophie.

With yet another big client now as the target of this hidden antagonist, Alice and her team try to thwart an exchange of confidential company data for a large firm that caters to rich clientele and manages their financials. If Mr. X gets access to it, he gets access to wealth in access of 100 million dollars.

Much to the chagrin of Alice and her team, the exchange goes smoothly as the man comes, makes a quick distraction, subverts the attention of the mark's shadow and uses a child to deliver payment for the small USB. To taunt Alice, we see the man in question pass right by her back as she searches the outdoor plaza for who could have committed such a skillful deception.

Irked by the man's escape, she finally returns home to her fiance. As it should come to no surprise to you now (it was the selling point in the advertisements) the secret Mr. X she's been chasing for the last few months is none other than her fiance, currently operating under the name Christopher Hall. Played by Peter Krause of Six Feet Under and Parenthood fame, Chris has been long-conning her for over a year. Yes, the con is on Alice, as opposed to him having simply fallen in love with her on his own. His angle: work her for not just her money (of which she has over a million dollars personally) but access to her client list and influence on suspicion. The closer he is the less faults she can see. Unfortunately after taking her money and getting the jumpdrive, he is told that the job has finally ended.

The person to who he reports is Margot Bishop, another member of his three-person con ring and lover. They go back years into their youth when they hustled pocket change and wallets from purses and pockets. Far more upscale now, they deal in the millions. Reginald Lennox rounds out their team. Yes, he's the bald black guy. He's also the muscle and the cleaner, both literally and metaphorically. After Margot tells Peter that the con must end immediately, like tonight, she orders that he break it off with Alice and has already tasked Reginald with cleaning after Peter leaves, and boy is he thorough.

Awaking to his fiance, Christopher gets dressed and stares at her until she comes to. His thoughts on more than just the con, he shows an inkling of true love. For but a moment it is he who plays the role of the woman in the painting, both satisfied with his great con and unwilling to see it end. A proposition, he asks her to run away with him now, get married, leave her business behind and never come back. They'll start a new life somewhere. Impulsive and crazy, she thinks it sweet and nearly falls for it but decides that she must at the very least capture this taunting figure who has screwed over her clients and team. And as they depart so ends their relationship even though Alice doesn't know it.

When she gets to the office, she stresses over the proposal, letting it slip that he asked her to leave everything because he wanted her. Even knowing what it meant for them, her girlfriends/workers tell her to go get her man. She leaves only to find that she can't contact him on the phone, is unable to leave him a message, his car at work is still there, but his personal business she stood in a mere day prior is nothing more than an empty space ready for rent. At home she finds that Reginald has cleaned the place from top to bottom. Not only are his clothes and personal effects gone, but there are no pictures, no fingerprints, no hairs, no DNA of any kind, he probably doesn't even have a half-empty shampoo bottle left for her to use. It is as if he never existed, precisely what Margot wants. Alice's thoughts: Oh my god, he conned me... and I gave him all of my money!

And so begins the game of cat and canary (you thought I was gonna say mouse, didn't you? Funny enough, I think one of the working titles for the series was Cat and Mouse). Out for revenge and professional street cred, Alice pursues her ex-fiance in hopes of doling out his comeuppance. She's been led astray the entire time, from his fake name to his fake reason for meeting her. His real name is Benjamin Jones and he didn't meet with her and Valerie to vet their company on whether he should use them for his investigative needs, the con was always on her. Why it took a year to get some names, or why he slid so deeply into her and her life (ha! Sorry, I should keep this blog PG-13 at the least) is a mystery unto both Alice and the audience set to unfold over the remainder of the season. One thing was for sure though, not only does she feel hurt and betrayed all classic signs of a love still very much alive, but he has that feeling, too. He still loves her. To prove to her his sincerity (or to brag about his skills, whichever) he goes back and steals the painting from the beginning as he told her once that he'd buy the real thing for her one day--mind you the painting in question is worth millions.

The second episode opens with that very problem: If this is the real painting then how can she return it to the art gallery without looking suspicious and keeping her rep intact amongst her clients. As if this all weren't bad enough, just as she discovers her sweet Christopher Hall is this sleazy Benjamin Jones, an ex-Interpol current FBI agent Jules Dao comes to question her about said man. She's on pins and needles about any new man suddenly coming into her life and telling her stuff, so she doesn't quickly share what she knows, instead pushing forward with her own investigation.

The chase not the only focus of her life, she still has other cases and in the second episode focuses on her own Innocence Project surrounding a young guy accused of killing his much older sugar mama. Having been acquitted of the crime and marrying a journalist who believed in his not guilty verdict, he still wants to clear his name and get the money rightfully owed to him through the old woman's will. Alice thinks the guy did it but because certain evidence wasn't allowed to be viewed by the jury he got off. Needing a win and to make sure her BS tracker isn't still on the fritz, she pursues info to back his guilt.

Unfortunately, she finds evidence to the contrary that points to the woman's disowned son. Her instincts still off she even runs into Benjamin on assignment in his next con. Not to be outwitted again, she allows him to steal something from her that links to the first thing he stole. A jumpdrive (yeah), as soon as he inserts it into the laptop, not only is Sophie able to backdoor hack into his computer but she manages to drain all of the accounts of the money he stole before any of their clients noticed it missing. Out ten million, he, Margot and Reginald must figure out how to come up with the money fast as they have a huge debt to pay off to some not so nice people. They start working on their next con which involves a Middle Eastern princess.

As Ben continues his life of crime, Alice and her team follow-up on the rich woman's son, even finding a cache of jewels and stolen merchandise said to have been taken in a house robbery the night the woman died. The riches found stuffed in her son's favorite canoe he kept at their beach house, she now knows it's the son who does himself no favors by running. Still, her gut says something different leading her back to the woman's house where she finds evidence pinning the young playboy to the crime after all. Double jeopardy in play, she escapes when his journalist wife comes to find them, only to push her husband down the marble stairs, killing him. Her reason: "He would've ruined my reputation. I believed him. I believed him." The symbolism is strong with this one.

I'm Benjamin Christopher Michael. Yeah, Michael
Realizing Christopher/Ben always read through the obits of a particular newspaper to assume his next identity, she puts a specific obit in that matches the back-story he told her to see if he'll bite. In the third episode he does bite, taking the name Michael as he works a con on the princess. The con: Get the princess to use her family's wealth to invest in two massive real estate ventures in downtown LA. The two tallest apartments in LA recently built for grandeur and high-class living, each building is worth 150 million dollars. She can have a place in each for a holding fee of five million. From a female-oppressive country the young woman isn't allowed to control the money herself, instead having a bodyguard who holds her purse strings of the inherited fortune from her recently dead parents split amongst her and her brothers. She relies on him to make the deal for her.

The problem is that while the offers are real, the deal and the hosting of the investors meeting are all fake. Reginald seduces the real estate woman so he and the team can host their own house showing all set up for the princess. Ben brings her to the showing along with her bodyguard where a deal is immediately struck. But at this meeting Ben learns that the bodyguard tells the princess the deal is for eight million each (one in each building). He's skimming a total of six million dollars from the account. Ben convinces his crew that if they out the bodyguard's dishonesty he can slip in and procure an even bigger payoff. As simple as Margot pretending to have been duped as well and letting her purchase amount slip, the princess is convinced and the plan goes off without a hitch.

Meanwhile, Alice moves on to her next case while keeping Ben in her sights. As Valerie's divorce crawls along, her soon-to-be ex comes in with his sister who participated in a faulty clinical trial for new medications for MS. She wants Alice and Valerie to prove that the company administering the test drug lied in their published results that declared no one experienced any side effects so she can sue the company for feeling dizzy, passing out and putting herself in harm's way. Alice risks going to get a drug sample thinking a rival company may have sabotaged it. But when she sneaks in as a test subject, she accidentally gets pumped full of the drug. She rushes out, grabbing a drink of orange juice to replenish her blood sugar, as a trace on the credit cards of the new Benjamin/Michael turned up his location.

Special Agent Dao. I'm French. 
Alice arrives at the location just as the side effects kick in, making her med-drunk as she stumbles through the restaurant. Meanwhile, Ben sits to have dinner with the princess. He slips out for the bathroom and is confronted by the bodyguard who tries to kill him but ends up dead at the hands of Margot. She and Reginald sneak the body out the back as Ben sees Alice at the front. She gives chase but in her state collapses a few times, once into a bloody floor. Receiving info earlier from Agent Dao that Ben killed a woman in cold blood, this only confirms her suspicion. Her side effects also confirm the sabotaged drug trial as she was fine until she drank the belladonna-laced orange juice. The doctor had a wife who also suffered from MS and tried scuttling his own drug trial as a way of earning a do-over so he could re-fabricate the drug.

Unfortunately, Ben got away with the princess who will be leaving LA soon. But in a heart-to-heart phone conversation at episode's end, Ben and Alice talk to each other where he lovingly warns her not to pursue him and she lies in agreement as she plots to follow him to the ends of the earth to capture the one man that fled with her love.

What's my grade? Honestly, it's hard to tell at this point. I haven't been watching it live on Thursdays which can influence my grade, but from what I've seen so far I'll have to give it a B-. Listen, I'd love to rate it higher, but this show feels very much like the other failed Shondaland show from a few years ago, Off The Map--a doctors without borders drama with a Grey's Anatomy tone. It's not as grabbing as How To Get Away With Murder or Scandal and it has more of a Private Practice feel to it, a show which I didn't care for. And I was quite surprised by Shonda's choice for the lead. I know there's other producers/creators of the show, but with her streak of minority casting I fully expected, nay hoped for maybe a Latina or Asian woman in the next lead role. Of course that's just a personal "oh rats!" moment and I am a fan of Mireille Enos; in fact, I think the cast is good and the story also supplies a nice twist. As stated in the title, to me it has a very The Thomas Crown Affair circa-1990s feel to it with the sexy law enforcer chasing after the sexy thief, but I actually don't think it goes far enough in that direction. I can't put my finger on it quite yet but I know that something is missing from this show to push it over the top into greatness. Can't say it's earned it's role as the closer for must see Thursday night TV the way ABC bills its lineup. Maybe it is the cast chemistry as I know that the two leads were both aged up considerably from the pilot.

Should you be watching? Eh, I don't know. This is one of those shows that is so difficult for me to recommend because it doesn't immediately jump out as being for a particular audience. Hate to be repetitive but that problem of it missing something and me being unable to determine what that is, is very rare for me. I'll say sure, see it and judge for yourself. You might enjoy it. It is a fun show that moves quick and gives everyone a side to cheer for but I'm not sure it'll be your new addiction from season to season. So far it has yet to hit that special stride. The Catch airs Thursdays at 10pm eastern on ABC following Scandal.

What do you think? Have you heard of and seen this show? Am I wrong about it being addictive? Is it your new favorite show? What do you like best about it? And if you haven't seen it, do you think you'll tune in for an episode now? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon; season 2 coming this summer. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "No, ma'am. I'm agent Carl Hanratty. And your boy, well... he's in trouble."
'What did Frank do?'
"Frank Abagnale Jr.'s been forging checks"
'Oh, well that shouldn't trouble anybody. I'll just write a check to cover his debts. Uh, how much?"
"1.4 million dollars."

P.S. Did I paraphrase that from the movie, you bet? And me having mentioned The Thomas Crown Affair, you thought I was gonna go with a quote from there, didn't you. But no, in honor of Leo Dicaprio's first Oscar win I went with the classic Catch Me If You Can. Fun facts abound here: In the movie Leo played real life conman Frank Abagnale Jr. In it he courts an innocent young woman he cons into believing he's a doctor. The girl is played by Amy Adams, a red head. Mirielle Enos plays a redhead in The Catch. He also had a brief sex scene with a flight attendant played by Ellen Pompeo who happens to star in Shondaland's flagship show Grey's Anatomy. He also starred in the film Django Unchained which featured Kerry Washington, who stars as Olivia Pope in Shondaland's Scandal. Six degrees of idea separation. Yeah. Suck on those lemons for a while.

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