By Jonathan Storm
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Ten years ago, CBS came out with a ballyhooed remake of “The Fugitive,” the classic ’60s series in which a wrongly accused physician scrambled to stay ahead of his dogged pursuer. Few people paid much attention to the other show that premiered that night.
It was Bruckheimer’s first network show, a little thing called “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” It “has more hooks than a tuna boat,” wrote one of the critics (me) who noticed, relegating “The Fugitive” and all its hoo and bally to a distant second place: “Too contrived.”
Bruckheimer wins again. The unheralded show this time is NBC’s “Chase,” about not one, but many, chases, and it has the hooks. It faces off at 9 p.m. against “Hawaii Five-0″ the remake, and as remakes usually are, “Five-0″ is too contrived.
CBS pulls Alex O’Loughlin out of mothballs to play Steve McGarrett after the failure of “Moonlight” and “Three Rivers.” He’s still handsome, but no longer a vampire, nor a doctor. Now he’s the world’s greatest Navy action hero (hey, it works for “NCIS”), who returns to his home state of Hawaii, where Jean Smart has segued from interior decorator (“Designing Women”) and first lady (“24″) to governor.
She gives him carte blanche to round up the villains. But first he rounds up the new cop — after they meet cute, pointing guns at each other. Danny Williams is just in from Jersey so he can be closer to his daughter, who called him “Danno” because she couldn’t pronounce “Daddy.” See what I mean by “contrived”? James Caan’s son Scott, also handsome, plays the part.
They bicker incessantly, even after Daniel Dae Kim of “Lost” and his hot cousin, Grace Park from “Battlestar Galactica,” join the squad to give it a little local color, even if they both have Korean ancestry, and there are about as many Koreans in Hawaii as Puerto Ricans.
The only new guy in the “Chase” squad of Texas-based U.S. marshals is another East Coast kid, all buttoned down, D.C.-style. But he soon learns to untuck his shirt and run with the rest of ‘em: the appealing mixed bag of types that populates most Bruckheimer projects.
With a strong woman at the forefront, this one is slightly reminiscent of “Cold Case,” though Kathryn Morris was much more of a china doll than tough gal Kelli Giddish.
She plays the cowboy-booted Annie Frost and does most of her own stunts, which, though they don’t carry the highfalutin, techno-savvy baggage of ex-Navy action heroes, are exciting and fun.
Sure, they’ll run and run and run some more in every show and catch the fugitives at the end. This is meat-and-potatoes television. But if the baddies are as well-drawn as Travis Fimmel’s murderous character in the pilot, there’s also a tasty order of creamed spinach on the side.