In Canada: Mondays, 9/9.30NT, CBC
Sometimes, you watch a TV show and you wonder to yourself, “What exactly is the point of this?” Not in the sense of it being rubbish, but simply because you want to know what its underlying message is. Usually there is one – it’s what helps plenty of writers to put pen to paper after all – but sometimes, there is no message.
Indeed, after watching the first episode of Caught, CBC’s new crime mini-series based on the acclaimed novel by Lisa Moore, I can’t help but wonder if its only point is to give most of the great and the good of Canadian acting the chance to wear bad wigs, since there doesn’t appear to be a message of any kind – at least, not yet.
Set in 1978, the show stars Allan Hawco (Republic of Doyle, Frontier, The Book of Negroes, ZOS: Zone of Separation) as a former weed-dealer who’s been in prison for four years. However, one night, he manages to make his escape with the help of Roger Cross (Continuum, Arrow, Motive, The Returned, Dark Matter). After laying low for all of a night, he decides to head off to join his former partner Eric Johnson (Smallville, Flash Gordon, Rookie Blue), who’s now branched off into harder stuff and is running a sizeable drugs empire in far warmer climes than Canada. Hot in pursuit is somewhat ill, disgraced detective Paul Gross (Due South, Eastwick, Men with Brooms) and somewhat overlooked, female detective Enuka Okuma (Rookie Blue), who hope he’ll lead them to Johnson. Meanwhile, Johnson has his own troubles, including the fact new business partner Greg Bryk (Frontier, Mary Kills People) has a new girlfriend, Tori Anderson (No Tomorrow, Blindspot).
All of which is very, very familiar. It’s the standard realm of crime dramas about the drugs trade. Cops, double crosses, plans within plans, everyone seeming to be one thing when they’re actually something else. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone turned out to be an undercover cop by the final episode. Indeed, one of the points made about Moore’s novel was that the plot was very familiar, even if it did flit between twists – it was only her writing that made the novel anything but generic.
Certainly, by the end of the first episode, I found that I’d been more interested in the constantly bad wigs that each and every person has to wear than the plot, even when it’s revealed (spoiler alert) Hawco is really working with Gross to catch Johnson. Gross probably has the most staggering look, although it might be because he’s actually gone white (!), but Okuma’s and Hawco’s wigs are pretty astounding. Only Cross looks the same as always, but I’ll put that down to all the time-travelling he’s been doing of late.
As well as wigs, there are some nice cars, but without the internal monologue Moore uses to drive Hawco’s character in the book, there’s precious little here to lift the show out of the mundane. Were it not for the period details and the fact it’s set in Canada (and the Dominican Republic for a bit of glamour), it could be an episode of more or less any crime show.
The cast are fine. Gross is perhaps playing up his grizzled old detective too much, while Hawco’s almost the opposite – a seemingly nice guy, even though he’s been taking beatings in prisons for four years. Okuma does exactly what you’d expect of her role, as does Johnson, who’s pleasingly oily, if not quite as sociopathic as he needs to be. That just leaves Anderson to surprise, playing the diametric opposite of her No Tomorrow mouse.
But in terms of plotting, there’s nothing much here so far for the discerning viewer. Other than bad 70s hair.