CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
TV Review: NBC’s ‘Chase’ Might Not Be Worth Pursuing
CHICAGO – NBC’s “Chase” is not a “good” show in the strictest sense of the word. It’s hokey, rife with stereotypes, and sets up unrealistic situations for its characters in order to facilitate dramatic, suspenseful chase scenes. To protect my honor and integrity as a TV critic, this must be gotten out of the way first: objectively, I can see that “Chase” is not a good show.
Television Rating: 3.0/5.0
Having said that, I’ll admit that there are enjoyable moments in the series premiere, airing tonight, Monday, September 20th, 2010. A mix of “The Fugitive” and a classic Western, “Chase” is a corny-but-engaging show. It centers on a suspiciously-pretty and ethnically-diverse group of U.S. Marshals who carry the requisite amount of their own personal emotional baggage, working in Texas to chase down the bad guys — unsympathetically misanthropic criminal fugitives.
The cast features some interesting players. Cole Hauser (“Good Will Hunting”), an actor who consistently delivers complex and interesting performances, is one half of a will-they-won’t-they love match with the main character Annie (Kelli Giddish). Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives”) co-stars and is at least is eye candy, if that fact tends to obfuscate any assessment of his talent as an actor. The lead, played by Giddish, is a little too reserved and angularly Teutonic to be entirely engaging, although she does have moments in which she is dashingly intriguing, cracking a case while singing along to a country and Western song with a high-tech, “CSI”-like lab as her backdrop.
Photo credit: Vivian Zink/NBC
The second thing that makes “Chase” interesting is its colorful, if stereotypical, Texan setting, complete with honky tonks, rodeos and references to Waylon Jennings songs. This lively setting enhances the ‘sheriff’s gang’ homage of the show: these marshals are swaggering, emotionally reserved and unambiguously heroic. There is even a shot of four of the main characters lined up, about to get their man, with badges gleaming at their waists like a cowboy gang rolling into the O.K. Corral to lay down the law.
Photo credit: Brian Bowen Smith/NBC
On the other side, what is disappointing about the show is the predictability of its romantic entanglements. It is hinted that Giddish and Hauser will end up together, naturally. Meanwhile, the two main non-white characters, Marco and Daisy (Amaury Nolasco and Rose Rollins), also flirt and hint at the romance to come. Question: why do these police procedural network shows so rarely feature interracial hookups? Just wondering…
The other eye-rolling moments come with the episode’s guest actors, including a conveniently cute child victim, whose appearance allows Annie to show the audience her heart of gold amidst her cowboy persona. The bit characters aiding and abetting the fugitive are ridiculous: A haggard and weary working-class mother and a naïve, devoted, anti-feminist young girlfriend.
Finally, the show features implausible situations blatantly designed to set up dramatic chase scenes and suspenseful situations. Would the marshals really take off running after their mark on a crowded bridge, rather than just radio each other to surround and cut him off? Would they jump into a river after him, allowing for a dramatic aqueous physical struggle? These setups do add to the suspense, but not the realism, of the show.
At the same time, there are moments of surprising tension and violence, and a decent amount of eerie creepiness. Plus, the final shot of the episode is edited well to induce you to tune in next week.
In the end, the features that make this series good may not be enough to sustain long-term fans, and the features that make it cheesy may deter viewers in the end. Nevertheless, I will turn off my critic’s analysis and tune in next week, at least to see if this admittedly-silly show can endure.