Chase - NBC: Mondays at 10:00pm
What do the following names have in common? - Catherine Willow, Lilly Rush, Annabeth Chase, Calleigh Duquesne, Rachel Young, Alex Rice, and Samantha Spade.
- All of them are blonde.
- All of them are tough as nails but have a vulnerable side beneath the surface.
- All of them are drop-dead gorgeous but look like they've been kicked around a couple of times, which usually started at home.
- All of them are totally comfortable in a Man's World, and don't take any guff from anyone. Most importantly,
- All of them are characters in Jerry Bruckheimer TV shows.
Now, don't get me wrong: the world can always use more hot blondes with daddy issues. (Who can't?) But after awhile you start to wonder if Bruckheimer has some kind of fetish, or if this is his formula for success. We already know other parts: fast pacing, high adreneline, a good-looking colorful cast, slick production values, and cliff-hangers leading into each commercial break like clockwork.
Which is all to say, that while every Bruckheimer show is different, after awhile they start to have a "Law and Order" feel. You can jump in whenever you want, you can count on seeing a well-produced professional looking drama, and you're probably not going to lose any sleep if you have something better to do. This leads us to Bruckheimer's latest extension of the Brand, Chase, Mondays at 10:00, and for the first time on NBC. (One wonders if Dick Wolf feels threatened.)
Kelli Giddish stars as Annie "Boots" Frost, a rough-n-tough US Marshall who always gets her man and looks great doing it. Would it surprise you to learn that Annie is blonde, gorgeous, and cringes whenever her daddy's name is brought up?
Giddish is new to me, and plays Annie with a mixture of soft features and rough edges, a sweet Southern twang to her voice and eyes that have seen too much. And while perhaps it shouldn't be a factor, she's not exactly difficult to look at. (Imagine a poor man's Charlize Theron, and that ain't a put-down.)
Multiple times during the show we get hints that Annie is tough because she had to be - mom died young, daddy was no-good, your standard hard-upbringing that makes female characters super tough but sensitive too, at least on TV. I have nothing but good things to say about Giddish, who carries the role just fine, and doesn't coast. Annie is the type of Marshal who jumps off a bridge after a suspect without even blinking. Of course, we're supposed to believe that she can go toe-to-toe with dangerous criminals, beat the crap out of them (and take punches while doing it) without missing a beat, but then again, if you can believe someone as beautiful as Kelli Giddish is a US Marshall in the first place, then you're already 80% of the way there.
Annie's partner is Jimmy Godfrey, played by Cole Hauser. I mean no disrespect, but this is the ninth or tenth thing I've seen Hauser in, at least three or four of them as a cop, and never once has he shown me anything that a million other people couldn't have done just as well. Not for nothing, but in his two most note-worthy movies (Dazed and Confused and Good Will Hunting), Hauser was acted off the screen by Ben Affleck. Not exactly a recommendation.
Hauser looks especially uncomfortable every time he calls Annie "Boots," as if he's inwardly rolling his eyes at the producers trying to force a nickname down our throats. Supposedly Jimmy is unlucky in love and has great cop-partner chemistry with Annie, but never thinks of her "that way." I suppose if you're buying Cole Hauser as charismatic then you can believe that Jimmy wouldn't be all over Annie any chance he gets.
The rest of the cast includes a manic Amaury Nolasco (the Latino cell-mate from Prison Break), a trainee played by Jesse Metcalfe (the infamous lawnmower boy who hooks up with Eva Longoria from Desperate Housewives), and Rose Rollins; straight out of Bruckheimer multi-racial central casting.
Chase is set in Houston, and uses helicopter establishing shots (like they do on CSI) to convince us they are actually filming in Texas and not Burbank. I can live with that because downtown Houston at night looks every bit as cool as Vegas. The very first scene involves Annie disrupting a cattle parade at a rodeo and "calf-roping" a suspect she's chased down. Future episodes promise to bring more Texas-sized flair, and I'm on board with that too. (Nothing against New York or LA, but America does have other great cities.)
If I seem negative in my review I do Chase a disservice, for it is certainly well done, and I have no doubt that I would enjoy watching it. But it isn't compelling, and with so much great TV out there vying for my attention, the bar is simply too high. Best of luck to Kelli Giddesh if Chase is a ratings-war casualty, and someone plesae tell Jerry Bruckheimer that if he wants to keep putting bad-ass hot blondes with emotional problems on his television shows that it's fine by me.
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