‘The Catch’ Adds More Twists and Turns to the Shondaland Lineup

Richard Cartwright/ABC
the catch, abc, Mireille Enos

Spring Preview Icon SmallIt’s early on a brisk February morning, and Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) is close to catching her man. Standing outside the majestic Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, the flame-haired private eye scans the crowd for her former fiancé, Ben (Peter Krause), a con artist who stole her heart and then disappeared with her millions. But when her cell rings, Alice sounds less like a woman who wants payback and more like one who’d handcuff Ben for pleasure. “You’re about to be late,” she purrs.

“I’m about to stand you up,” banters Ben, who’s watching Alice admiringly from across the street, even as he expresses disappointment at clocking a Fed in a nearby car. “You said you wouldn’t bring the FBI.”

Welcome to the arrestingly seductive cat-and-mouse game The Catch. From executive producer Shonda Rhimes, the buzzy drama—which joins ABC’s hot Thursday-night lineup March 24—is a fast-paced, sexy caper revolving around a hypersuccessful heroine who’s drawn into a knotty romance with a flawed-yet-McCrushworthy guy. In short, it’s classic Shondaland with a criminally high-stakes twist. “It’s about these two people—not unlike [Scandal’s] Liv and Fitz, not unlike [Grey’s Anatomy’s] Derek and Meredith—who absolutely belong together,” says showrunner/executive producer Allan Heinberg, a Rhimes protégé. “But there’s no way they really can be, because Ben belongs in a jail cell, and Alice is the one to probably put him there.”

The chance to join Shondaland’s squad of formidable femmes—which includes How to Get Away With Murder’s Viola Davis, Scandal’s Kerry Washington and Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo—proved irresistible to Enos. “Alice gets to be a toughie, a lover and superglamorous,” says the actress, whose last series role was The Killing’s decidedly un-glam cop Sarah Linden. “Nobody’s ever asked me to be a ‘beauty girl’ before!”

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Not every piece of The Catch’s puzzle was an easy fit. Shortly after the show was picked up by ABC last May, producers recast two roles, with Krause replacing newcomer Damon Dayoub as the con man who falls for his mark and Sonya Walger (Lost) stepping in for Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill) as Margot, Ben’s ruthless partner in crime and longtime girlfriend. Then, in August, came a behind-the-scenes shake-up as Jennifer Schuur (Hannibal), who wrote the pilot, and co-showrunner Josh Reims (Mistresses) departed the series over creative differences. “People think just because somebody can write a pilot, they can easily write a season of TV, but it’s a very different process,” Rhimes says. “I had trouble my first year of Grey’s getting it done. When you’re figuring out a new show, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and it became clear that making a change was really necessary.”


Krause and Enos in The Catch

In tapping a new showrunner, Rhimes and producing partner Betsy Beers turned to Heinberg, who’d not only spent time on the Grey’s and Scandal writing staffs but also felt a connection to the theme of romantic betrayal. “I had something not dissimilar happen in my own life,” Heinberg reports. “I was with somebody who turned out not to be quite who I thought they were.”

With his boss’s blessing, Heinberg kept the central premise of a woman conned by the man she loves, which Rhimes calls “my worst nightmare,” but tossed out nearly everything else. The show’s tone also evolved from Hitchcockian dark thriller to a breezy mashup of The Thomas Crown Affair and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And Krause’s Ben became, Heinberg says, “essentially James Bond. He wears amazing clothes, drives amazing cars and is a man of a thousand faces and identities.”

Krause certainly seems to be savoring his gig as a dashing bad boy after portraying Parenthood’s upstanding Adam Braverman. “It’s territory I haven’t explored before,” he says during a break in filming. “What I’m really enjoying [playing] the most is a guy who’s so overcome by love that it’s going to set his life on a different course. Almost like the Grinch growing a heart, this is about a person growing a conscience.”

Look for upcoming episodes to flesh out the details of Ben’s dangerous international con ring, while Alice works weekly cases “thematically connected to what’s going on with our characters,” executive producer Beers teases. In a fun bit of casting, Enos’s real-life husband, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’s Alan Ruck, will pop up in a small role. And in characteristic Shondaland fashion, the drama will often leave viewers struggling to catch their breath. “I don’t know much in advance,” Enos claims of her show’s OMG thrills, “which is fine. I have enough on my plate just trying to keep up with the episode I’m [shooting]. Every script, it’s like, ‘Aaaghhh, this is what’s happening next?’ It’s so much fun.”

The Catch, Series Premiere, Thursday, March 24, 10/9c, ABC