CHASE Series Premiere Review

     September 20, 2010

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The ambitions of the team of US marshals at the center of NBC’s new fast-paced law enforcement drama are clear: we’re here to catch the bad guys. If Law & Order challenges your mind too much but CSI: Miami just makes you feel dirty, then Chase just might have enough action and standard police procedural fare to satisfy. But the real question is whether or not Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) and her top notch team chasing the most notorious and ruthless criminals in the state of Texas are enough to make Chase worth your pursuit. Find out after the jump.

While the series throws viewers right into the middle of the action involving some of the most efficient US marshals based out of Houston, Texas, it never really takes the time to put us in the middle of the team to care about the characters or their pursuit. Never does the team actually show any genuine camaraderie beyond some cheap jokes and one-liners between the frequent action sequences throughout the chase. Annie Frost, Jimmy Godfrey (Cole Hauser), Marco Martinez (Amaury Nolasco) and Daisy Ogbaa (Rose Rollins) have been working together for awhile. They can all agree that bringing in recent academy graduate Luke Watson (Jesse Metcalfe) is a bad idea, but they don’t really show any reasons to make me believe their team is too tight knit to justify their apprehension. There’s a lot of sizzle, but the waiter never brings the steak.

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The same can be said for any genuine drama to make viewers want to continue beyond this 45-minute (without commercials) pseudo-adaptation of The Fugitive. While Frost herself as a lead female law enforcement officer is somewhat intriguing, not enough is done with her character for me to care about her future. Whereas a pliot in a TV series usually leaves you wanting to know where a certain character or story arc is going, for Ms. Frost it’s simply onto the next case. And while that may be an accurate representation of the job of a US marshal, there are obvious hints at a rough childhood with a criminal father that implies viewers should be thinking about her background. However this isn’t done in a tactful or mysterious enough way to allow for any real intrigue. Lines from Frost like “I used to cover for my Daddy, too, ” or even something like “I know what I’m talking about,” that drips with completely unsubtle implication, just aren’t enough for me to need or want to know more.

On the side of the killer (played this time by Travis Fimmel), much of the development of the antagonist is spent following his attempts to escape the law as we see just how ruthless this criminal can be. Meanwhile, the clues that lead the team from one crime scene to another never seem to be definitive links or solid enough evidence for the next leap of knowledge in the case. While the shows quick pacing is certainly a draw, at times it also serves as a weakness for its impact as a drama. It moves too swiftly for one single moment to carry significant weight.

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While there’s certainly plenty of shortcomings to point out within the pilot, I can’t say that it’s completely devoid of entertainment, even if it is lacking any compelling elements. The biggest issue with the series is that it’s just not memorable or captivating enough to warrant an entire season. If Chase offers anything for viewers, it’s a roller coaster ride of action and fast-paced criminal apprehension that barely gives the audience room to breathe. The only problem is the prize at the end of this marathon simply doesn’t seem to exist. Chase is the epitome of a procedural series and the pilot doesn’t seem to promise any larger character arcs or plots to keep any mystery or desire for the next episode beyond this 45-minute open and shut case. At the end of the pilot, Ms. Frost answers her mobile phone amidst a bar celebration after their big apprehension with a simple, “This is Annie…” I’m not sure I’ll be calling on her or the rest of her team to solve another case.

THE FINAL WORD: While it’s not the worst pilot from the fall season, it’s certainly one of the most lacking. While these US marshals put all their effort into chasing the bad guys, you’re probably not going to want to put much effort into watching Chase itself. Unless the next couple episodes suddenly introduce a story bigger than an abridged version of a good crime story, it’s probably only a good idea to catch Chase by accident after tuning into its lead-in, the far superior and promising new series The Event.

Chase premieres Monday, September 20th (tonight) at 10/9c on NBC.

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