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23 Mar 2016

True TV: 'The Catch' Shakes Up Shondaland; 'The Path' Is Real Cult TV

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The premise of The Catch: When a successful Los Angeles private investigator (Mireille Enos) is conned out of millions by the man she thought to be her fiancé (Peter Krause), she sets out on a seek-and-destroy mission for payback against the international “Mr. X.” The premise of The Catch: When a successful Los Angeles private investigator (Mireille Enos) is conned out of millions by the man she thought to be her fiancé (Peter Krause), she sets out on a seek-and-destroy mission for payback against the international “Mr. X.”

The Catch (Thursday, March 24, ABC), series debut: A Shonda Rhimes production is batting cleanup on ABC’s hottest night, which she essentially owns (Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, you know ’em)? Do I even need to continue here? Yes, because The Catch is, and isn’t, typical Shondaland TV. Sure, the cast is beautiful and diverse-ish, but the tone is less life-and-death-and-sex-and-tears, and more comedic caper with lower stakes. (Rich, gorgeous people stealing from other rich, gorgeous people—who to side with?) When a successful Los Angeles private investigator (Mireille Enos, The Killing) is conned out of millions by the man she thought to be her fiancé (Peter Krause, Parenthood), she sets out on a seek-and-destroy mission for payback against the international “Mr. X,” who’s always one step ahead of her, even though his disguise repertoire seems only to consist of Handsome Rogue and Handsome Rogue With Glasses. The Catch is waaay more fun than the rest of TGIT; set up those Pinterest pages now.

Flaked (Streaming, Netflix), new series: In the deluge of Too Much TV, this one slipped by me a couple of weeks ago, in part because Netflix has done little, if any, promotion for Will Arnett’s Flaked. There’s a reason: This eight-episode series about recovering Venice Beach alcoholic Chip (Arnett) goes nowhere even faster (slower?) than Netflix’s previous downbeat dramedy, Love, and contains even fewer laughs. See, drunk-driver Chip killed someone years ago, so now he’s a sad-sack cyclist-about-town who passive-aggressively lords his AA-guru status over everyone and merely “exists” when he’s not banging women half his age. Flaked can be funny, but is more often just “funny,” and only starts revealing semi-interesting plot twists by the time anyone would reasonably be sick of Chip. Arnett nailed the Tortured Manchild/Lovable Loser role far better, and funnier, in his previous Netflix series, the animated BoJack Horseman. Cue that up instead.

Carpool Karaoke (Tuesday, March 29, CBS), special: The only viable counter late-night CBS has to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Celebrity Photobomb is James Corden’s Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke … but that doesn’t mean either works outside of Internet or insomniac circles. But, since it’s a filler month, here’s The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, an exhaustingly titled hour—yes, hour—of Corden’s “greatest hits,” previously aired clips of him driving around with celebs and wailing tunes, because apparently that’s entertainment to CBS’ non-NCIS-geezer audience. But! It’s not all dusty content you can already view at your leisure on YouTube instead of watching live TV like a damned caveman—there’s a new segment with Jennifer Lopez! Which you’ll be able to see tomorrow on YouTube.

The Path (Wednesday, March 30, Hulu), series debut: Hulu’s recent 11.22.63 wasn’t quite the prestige-drama breakthrough they were hoping for (no one wants to watch James Franco time-travel unless he’s doing it with Seth Rogen, OK?), but The Path should get the streamer back on track. Set inside an upstate New York religious-movement-but-really-cult, this 10-episode series features a heavy-hitter cast (including Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan, Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy and Son of Anarchy’s Rockmond Dunbar), and the showrunner team behind Parenthood (which was a more intricate drama than it gets credit for), so expectations are high—and The Path delivers. Married cult couple Eddie (Paul) and Sarah (Monaghan) are at different levels of losing their religion; interim leader Cal (Dancy) is all-in and increasingly power-drunk; and an FBI agent (Dunbar) is thisclose to bringing it all down. Bottom line: If The Path were on HBO or FX, you wouldn’t be able to escape the hype.

Lopez (Wednesday, March 30, TV Land), series debut: This is the fourth TV series to sport the name Lopez or George, following George Lopez (ABC, 2002-07), Lopez Tonight (TBS, 2009-11), and Saint George (FX, 2014), but Lopez is the first to forgo the laugh track, either authentic (the first two were shot in front of live audiences) or canned (the last was so radioactively awful, no humans were allowed within 10 miles of the studio). It’s also another in the growing line of day-in-the-comic’s-life half-hours that trace back to Curb Your Enthusiasm, à la Louie, Maron and The Jim Gaffigan Show (let’s pretend Rob Schneider’s Real Rob never happened), and the “real” touch suits Lopez perhaps better than any of his previous series. Another TV Land score … this is getting weird.

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