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‘The Catch’ review: ABC’s new Shondaland drama a caper series with potential

Peter Krause and Mireille Enos star in ABC's

Peter Krause and Mireille Enos star in ABC's "The Catch," a con-man caper set in Los Angeles. Credit: ABC / Richard Cartwright

THE SERIES “The Catch”

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Thursday night at 10 on ABC/7


WHAT IT’S ABOUT Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) is the top private investigator in Los Angeles, engaged to Benjamin Jones (Peter Krause) — aka Mr. Perfect. She’s a specialist in tracking cons, so imagine her chagrin when she discovers she’s been conned by Ben. He spent a year working her, right up to the altar. Why exactly? Lots of reasons, but her company — which she runs with her partner, Valerie Anderson (Rose Rollins) — is now imperiled. An FBI agent, Jules Dao (Jacky Ido), offers to help track down Mr. Perfect, who’s headed back to the arms of his own partner in crime, Margot Bishop (Sonya Walger), and their other partner, Reggie Lennox (Alimi Ballard).

This is produced by Shondaland — the powerhouse production company run by Shonda Rhimes that effectively controls ABC’s Thursday prime-time lineup.

MY SAY “The Catch” is a charmer, all right. Also a trickster, a chameleon or a three-card monte specialist — inviting you to pick up one card, while palming the other. A match of content to form — this is a caper, after all — it’s about seeing instead of observing, because the closer you look, the further it recedes. “The Catch” is set in a bright, shiny Los Angeles filled with bright, shiny Angelenos — none of it, none of them particularly real.

But what to make of the show’s gaudiest makeover, Mireille Enos? This is something no one could have seen coming, especially after “World War Z” and TV’s “The Killing.” In the movie, she played Brad Pitt’s wife, with an unrelieved expression of horror, explained by the fact that Earth had just been overrun by high-velocity zombies. In the 2011 AMC hit, set in a gray Seattle, her Det. Sarah Linden was a depressive in baggy sweaters, with a frozen grimace and pale blue eyes that were deep wells of anguish and existential futility — either that, or she was just bummed that it never stopped raining.

Enos is a wonderful actress, apparently just not a lot of laughs.

By contrast — a sharp one — Shondaland heroines are tough scrappers, also romantics, who believe in the possibility of love if not the advisability of it. They know a man will eventually break their heart, so they prepare accordingly: They are better, smarter, braver than any man, have fabulous jobs, expansive wardrobes, close female friends. They are emotionally bulletproof until — well, you know — Fitz or McDreamy comes along.

That’s the mold, also the role, Enos steps into here, and she does so in style. A sartorial blur, she goes from scene to scene in different outfits. Her hair is radiant, flowing. She smiles. She takes charge. She is in charge.

What’s missing is conviction, and that’s the fault of the pilot more than Enos. As viewers, you come into this by the end of the relationship with Ben and so — other than a couple explanatory flashbacks — you never really learn why she was blinded in the first place. Krause’s Jones is obviously a callow cad with bad pickup lines. She gave her heart away to the lowest bidder. We can quickly see that. Why couldn’t tough, resourceful Alice see it, too?

But “The Catch” is about illusions, also about who’s real, or not. It’s about human mirages. Could Ben possibly be a genuine “catch,” or is he just another Shondaland heel in a bespoke suit?

The answer is not so clear-cut, and it’s also what makes “The Catch” so possibly engaging.

BOTTOM LINE Potentially a fun, smart newcomer from prime-time’s most successful factory. Potentially, anyway.

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