Following the success of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, it is no surprise ABC has decided to add yet another Shonda Rhimes produced soapy drama to their schedule. Who can blame them? All three Shonda shows currently on the schedule have proven to create insane levels of hype, intrigue and suspense among viewers largely due to the tried and tested formula of sex, drama and crime. While the Shonda recipe certainly works well, it also has the potential to make future shows produced by the mega-showrunner to become overly formulaic, predictable and stale. The main question is whether the newest addition to Shondaland, The Catch manages to set itself apart from the shows previously listed, or whether it is simply a repeat of what we have already seen.
The Catch follows Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos), a private investigator from Los Angeles California, who is the victim of fraud by her fiancé. She is determined to find him—between working on other cases—before it ruins her career. Peter Krause plays her fiancé, Benjamin Jones. It was created by Jennifer Schuur and Helen Gregory, developed by Allan Heinberg, and executive produced by Shondaland's Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers. Julie Anne Robinson also serves as an executive producer, and directed the pilot episode.
Firstly, viewers who regularly watch the Shondaland trilogy will not be too surprised by the themes of betrayal and conspiracy which are integral in The Catch. The show has all the tropes of a Shonda Rhimes show; strong female lead with relationship issue; Alice is secretly having second thoughts about marriage, plus her husband is a fraud. Similarly Olivia Pope was having a secret affair with President Grant in Scandal while Annalise Keating’s husband was cheating on her with a student who ends up dead. All female leads have a successful, white collar career; Alice is a private investigator who struts and drives through LA with the same effortless swagger crises management fixer Oliva Pope and Lawyer Annalise Keating do in their respective shows. Finally, all three shows feature (or in Scandal’s case, featured) imaginative cases of the week and elastic plot twists. In The Catch’s pilot episode, a scientist creates a device to make salt water drinkable, a concept which is stolen by Christopher.
Mireille Enos shines in her role as a private investigator/fiancé as she manages to combine the power and clout we would expect from a Shonda Rhimes female lead while also conveying a sense of vulnerability, which is most evident when Alice discovers Christopher, and all his belongings are gone as well as the final scene in which the creepy artwork which serves as a motif throughout the pilot episode suspiciously appears on Alice’s wall after Christopher disappears.
Though The Catch does not feel stale or repetitive at all, it has certain qualities (such as the use of flashbacks) which hark back to highs of Scandal and HTGAWM. They all share a family resemblance but The Catch feels different to other Shondaland shows, though necessarily in a good way. It feels… lighter than the most recent Shonda shows; it lacks the political overtones of Scandal or the depraved sexual/murderous behaviour of Annalise Keating in HTGAWM. One may even the describe the show as being a little too tame (especially after the minute long sex scene between Jake and Olivia in Scandal’s mid-season premiere obliterates The Catch’s ten-second long equivalent). After HTGAWM’s pilot which is arguably one of the best drama pilots in recent years, The Catch’s tone is mellow in comparison to its contemporaries to the point where it would be suitable for a light, early-Sunday evening viewing.