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You Like to Watch People Run? Well, Have I Got a Show for You!

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 27, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 27, 2010 |

The pilot for NBC’s new U.S. Marshal procedural, “Chase,” begins appropriately, with a chase. Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish, heretofore unknown to me) spends the first five minutes of the show running before she captures a fugitive. The arrestee has no bearing on the rest of the plot, but NBC really wants you to know that “Chase,” will involve a lot of running. That’s clearly the only selling point the show has.

In “Chase,” the “police want to know where a suspect has been, while [the marshals] want to know where he’s heading.” Also, “it’s not just what he looks like, [the marshals] need to figure out who he is.” Like everyone else, fugitives are “creatures of habit.” Their job is like “hide and seek with guns,” and to better track down fugitives, it’ll serve you well to “learn some music: It’s the quickest way onto a person’s soul.”

Those and many other idiotic chestnuts, like “let’s shake some trees,” “that was his first mistake,” “it’s not my problem,” “he’s in the wind,” “I’ve ridden a few bulls in my time,” ” a deal’s a deal,” and “surprise, surprise,” are on full display in “Chase,” one of the worst written episodes of television I’ve witnessed on any network in a very long time. That makes NBC 0-4 in the new show category so far this season (“The Event,” “Outsourced,” and “Undercovers,” were similarly bad, though none as bad as “The Chase.”) I don’t quite understand NBC’s mentality. It’s the fourth-place network; “The Biggest Loser,” fetches the network’s biggest ratings. If NBC wants any chance at breaking their lengthy slump, the only way to go about it would be to avoid middle-brow, conventional fare. They apparently learned nothing from the failures of “Mercy,” and “Trauma,” last season, so they insist on continuing to make the same mistakes, while the other networks, more times than not, manage the occasional hit by creating something novel, like “Glee.”

“Chase,” is as forgettable as they come, and they appear to have cast the show in a way to somehow make D-lister Cole Hauser the most charismatic actor on the program, a feat only accomplished by hiring Giddish (who has a soap-opera background) and Jesse Metcalfe, who’s about as exciting as elbow fat. Their jobs are to track down fugitives, which they do by getting to know their suspect, and then promptly ignoring everything they learned about him after they receive a tip on the suspect’s whereabouts. There’s half a dozen references to this week’s murderer being a Waylon Jenning’s fan, which does nothing to advance the narrative, at least not nearly as much as checking the government database to find out who the suspect’s high-school girlfriend was (really? The government keeps tabs on that?). That discovery tips them off to the fact that the suspect has a daughter, which doesn’t really advance the plot, either, because the suspect ditches the daughter before he attempts his escape to Mexico. That escape is foiled, however, because of some very deft running.

The people in “Chase,” run really fast. They swing their arms, to and fro, and they wear stern expressions while they run. And then they run some more. (They do not sweat, however; that would be uncouth). So, if you like watching people run, check it out. It’s on NBC, Mondays, at 10:00. It’s like vicarious exercise minus the health benefits.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.