Chase -- TV Review

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"Chase" begins with a fit blonde in tight jeans and a sharp leather jacket chasing a criminal through the streets of an unnamed city, brow furrowed in concentration. Pretty soon they're in a stockyard -- this turns out to be Fort Worth -- then a rodeo. We're all over Texas in this hourlong drama from NBC, and by show's end we'll be everywhere from Houston's skyline to a cowboy bar in San Antonio to a border crossing into Mexico.

From the evidence of the pilot, this show lives up to its premise quite squarely: It's a police procedural with a lot of chases, and its lead is thoroughly and consistently hot. But we don't know that much about any of these places, or any of the people doing the chasing, and it's not clear there's that much to know, either. The fullest-drawn portrait is probably the villain, a charming redneck who thinks he's a character in a Waylon Jennings song and exhibits a weakness, as it turns out, for blondes.

Kelli Giddish, a high-cheekboned Georgia-born actress probably best known for her role in "All My Children," plays Annie Frost, one of a team of U.S. Marshals who track down fugitives from a sleek, high-tech office building. (She looks like she'd be more at home browsing boutiques in Santa Monica than tangling with a crook in a Texas rodeo, but let's suspend disbelief.)

Giddish projects toughness and sensitivity, especially when dealing with children, but never becomes especially distinctive. In the girls-kick-ass spectrum, she's at least less one-dimensional than the CW's trigger happy Nikita.

The characters around Frost generally are less interesting than she is, and they don't bounce off each other in an especially compelling way. The best cop shows -- from "Hill Street Blues" to "The Wire" -- tend to have great chemistry, weird little alliances and grudges and fiefdoms. This one doesn't slow down enough to show us much human texture.

The pilot also has a tendency to tell us too much, as if it was a primer on crimefighting (or on cop shows). "Big difference between us and the police," Frost says to a green recruit. "They care about where he's been; we care about where he's going." Then a sultry shake of the head: "Now, who's ready to go hunting."

"Chase" comes from Jennifer Johnson, whose roots include "Providence," "Cold Case" and the first season of "Lost," and Jerry Bruckheimer, who's never met a really big explosion he doesn't like. (Is it fair to fault a show titled "Chase" for moving too fast? You can't say you weren't warned.)

It might be that its characters and the chemistry between them will grow -- Giddish very easily could deepen the role during the course of a season -- but that's probably not the point. This is Bruckheimer entertainment; "Top Gun" and "Pearl Harbor" fans probably will jump right in.

But compared to "Justified" and "Terriers," two recent and lower-key cops-and-robbers series on FX, this show has no soul.

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20 (NBC)
Production: Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Bonanza Prods., Warner Bros. Television
Cast: Kelli Giddish, Cole Hauser, Jesse Metcalfe, Amaury Nolasco
Executive producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Jennifer Johnson, David Nutter
Co-executive producer: KristieAnne Reed, Gary A. Brown
Creator-writer: Jennifer Johnson
Directors: Karen Gaviola, David Nutter