Roundup: The Catch and Wynonna Earp

The Catch

Genre: Thriller/mystery

Synopsis: Alice is PI and a partner at an investigative firm. Her life is looking good–she’s got a great job, great friends, and an upcoming wedding. Until her fiance, who she’s been with for a year, disappears. Alice learns that he’s a conman who’s been using her to get information from her firm. Feeling used and betrayed, she decides to take him down.

Series: First season is airing.

I’ve Watched: Up to episode 5.

Verdict: Pretty good.

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This show is turning out much better than I expected. There were a number of potential pitfalls with its premise that I was worried about:

  • A “sexy cat-and-mouse”, as the show is billed, runs the risk of building up a romantic relationship dynamic between the protagonist and the villain that can’t go anywhere. It’s kinda hard to have the happily-ever-after with the villain of the piece.
  • There’s a huge likelihood that the con-artist/victim romantic-cat-and-mouse thing will cross the line from sexy into creepy, and that’s doesn’t seem to be what this show is selling. It’s certainly never a line you want to cross by accident.
  • If the show wanted to build up a real relationship between the two, then it’s kind of hard to sell that the guy’s actually in love with her when he’s been running a con on her for a year, only to disappear while stealing her company’s data.

But the actual execution has avoided those problems.

There’s a believable reason why Ben would go back to his con artist lifestyle–if he doesn’t, it would put Alice’s life in danger. We’re given evidence that he does genuinely love her. The cat-and-mouse is only the beginning dynamic of the series, in place while Alice figures out what happened and why. Once she does, the setup of the story shifts. There’s no telling quite where it’s going at this stage, but the show has already proven it doesn’t hold onto its cards too tightly. It allows itself to change and grow.

Most interestingly, Ben comes out of this con with Alice a changed man. He sets his sight on a new target–a rich princess come to LA after the recent death of her father. And that relationship dynamic grows into something fantastic, a kind of mutually supportive mentor/mentee relationship. It isn’t romantic–one real personal detail that Ben shares with her is that he’s heartbroken over the end of a recent relationship, with someone he’s still in love with. They strike up a friendship.

Then when Zara–the princess–finally does hand Ben a check which he could take and run off with, it isn’t for shoes or real estate. It’s a donation to a charity focusing on women’s rights, an idea that he gave her. He makes a perceptible difference in Zara’s life and her belief in the choices she has available to her. And having that check in his hands, with the money that would solve all of his problems if he betrayed Zara’s trust and stole money from a human rights organization, is a test of character.

It’s a great situation to put the character in, but once that choice is made, there’s no going back. It tells us who he’s going to be and what role he’s going to play in this series.

Each episode builds on the journey Alice and Ben take after crossing each others’ paths, but also follows Alice’s cases and Ben’s cons. Both the cases and cons have been varied and interesting. But they would have quickly gone stale if each week did nothing but reset with a new case. Instead, they happen against the backdrop of Ben trying to get out of the hole he’s in, trying to retain some kind of connection with Alice. And Alice searching for the truth so that she can decide what she wants, while dodging a federal agent who’ll stop at nothing to get to Ben.

So far, the show has done well .

Wynonna Earp

Genre: Urban fantasy/Western

Synopsis: Wynonna comes back to her home town for a funeral, and it is not a joyous homecoming. Few are happy to see her. Worse, it’s her 27th birthday, and the family legacy for demon hunting is finally kicking in. With hardly anyone to believe in her and an enemy she doesn’t want to deal with, Wynonna has to decide if she’ll run away or stay and fight.

Series: First season is airing.

I’ve Watched: The first episode.

Verdict: Eh…

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This is a B-movie style TV show. It’s got hints of something worth watching, but the plotting and the execution are far from polished.

Wynonna’s character is well-put together. She’s not the most unique character type–the black sheep of the family who comes home to a less than enthusiastic welcome. A former delinquent with a reputation for trouble and a tendency towards self-loathing. But it’s a good one, and well done.

Her relationship with her sister adds to the show, too. Wynonna’s ready to give up, but Waverly’s ready to dive in. Their life experiences and approaches towards the family curse put them at odds, yet in the end they stick together. And where Wynonna’s jaded and bitter, Waverly still has all the hope in the world.

But the show lacks in realism. Too many coincidences, too many things that just plain don’t make sense. And too many characters that don’t believe in personal space.

In one scene, Wynonna is threatening a guy for information. Then his girlfriend busts in with a firearm and starts shooting, convinced that Wynonna is hitting on her man. The scene is clearly set up to be funny, but it sacrifices something in the process. And as a personal preference, I never go for sacrificing character or realism for a one-off joke.

So I’m on the fence about whether or not I’ll give it a few more episodes. We’ll see if the things that intrigue me overcome the things that put me off. Still, there seems to be a good response to the show from a lot of people–maybe if I don’t stick around for season one, I’ll give season two another shot.

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