May 12, 2017

ShowbuzzDaily Series Finale Review: “The Catch”


No one can say THE CATCH didn’t try.  Today’s cancellation announcement concluded two seasons of seemingly constant adjustment and revision (probably attributable in part to ABC’s commitment to non-writing Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes), starting with a pilot that was largely junked and partly recast, and continuing with a change in showrunners and many tweaks in tone.  Despite all that, the series was never able to capture the mix of Ocean’s Eleven-ish rom-com fizz and twisty thrills it was aiming for, and with ratings that largely wasted its substantial lead-in from Scandal, it was time to take the loss.

What turned out to be tonight’s series finale didn’t suggest that things were about to turn a corner.  Replacement showrunner Allan Heinberg, who wrote the episode, piled on the reversals and counter-reversals, and director John Stuart Scott tried to find threads of romance and self-sacrifice within the busy plotting.  As it had from the start, though, The Catch couldn’t achieve that note of effortless charm it was seeking.  It didn’t help that Mireille Enos, as security firm head Alice Vaughn, and Peter Krause, as her con man love Ben Jones, were playing against their more earnest strengths.  Heinberg’s attempt to broaden the canvas of the show, first by accentuating the roles of British gangster siblings Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger) and Rhys Griffiths (John Simm), then by giving Ben and Margot previously-unknown teen daughter Tessa (Philippa Coulthard), and Alice a similarly untrustworthy brother Tommy (ShondaLand veteran T.R. Knight), just made things more artificial.  Heinberg tried to ground things a bit in Season 2 by making Ben an undercover operative for FBI agent Justine Diaz (Gina Torres) in lieu of jail time–with Rhys, even less believably, as his sidekick–but that just led to more rote twists and switcheroos as they ran scams each week, sometimes in the public interest.

The Catch could never figure out its tone.  Margot was a ruthless killer, but also had a heart of–well, if not gold, some other valuable metal, by virtue of her emerging material feelings for Tessa, and her romance with Alice’s colleague Danny (Jay Hayden).  Tommy was a mediocre grifter, unless he was a murderous drug kingpin.  All of the mechanical plot turns were supposed to be held together by the snappy yet passionate romance of Alice and Ben, but that relationship never generated much believable emotion.

The finale ended with a sort of cliffhanger, as Ben–on the run again from the feds–boarded a private plane with Margot and Tessa, while Alice watched from the runway.  They vowed to see each other again, but it was hard to care one way or the other.  That typified The Catch, as instantly forgettable as a diet soda.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."