Because I rag on CBS procedurals a lot, I'm always happy to see a show that's a little quirky try to break through the genre's conventions, but Chaos is just quirky for quirky's sake, which annoys me on a whole different level. Especially since the show can't make up its mind if we're supposed to take these heroes seriously or not, considering they end up being somewhat competent at the end of the day. It's like if everyone on this series is a variation on Michael Scott, with no voice of reason to balance them out.
CHAOS stands for Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services, a department that newbie CIA agent Rick Martinez (Freddy Rodriguez) is tasked with keeping tabs on as sort of consolation job for not getting a better job. But although he's supposed to be a secret mole for budget-cutting Deputy Director H.J. Higgins (Kurtwood Smith), the ODS (Office of Disruptive Services) team figures him out immediately and sets off trying to torture him in any way possible.
The team consists of a highly paranoid Michel Dorset (Eric Close), former British Secret Service agent Billy Collins (James Murray) and "human weapon" Casey Malick (Tim Blake Nelson). The only person who distinctly seems to be on Rick's side is fellow agent Fay Carson, though the Deputy Director Adele Ferrer (Christina Cole) might have his back as well. Rick's first rescue mission nearly gets him killed when he's forced to makes good use of his knowledge of languages and his ability to swallow a scorpion. But at the end, he's become more a part of his renegade team than the mole he was supposed to be.
Considering it's strong cast, the show theoretically has some potential, but the pilot was a muddled mess. It wasn't consistently funny or satirical enough to be a comedy and not serious enough to be a real spy show, and while it gamely tried to split the difference, it just didn't ring true the way, say, Chuck did at its peak. It's from Tom Spezialy, who managed to do weird very well with Reaper and still give it some emotional resonance, but his new show feels flat. Perhaps the appearance of an actual devil that Rick could sell his soul to would help?
A few off-handed chuckles (mostly because of Tim Blake Nelson) isn't enough to sustain a whole season, particularly one that's starting this late in the spring and on a Friday night to boot. The show seems likely to be cancelled before it ever really finds a way to just go for the fully silly, which would actually make this show more entertaining. But in light of how much trouble Chuck has had getting renewed each season on NBC, it's hard to imagine CBS giving Chaos much of a chance - not when there's another NCIS or Criminal Minds spin-off that could use it's timeslot instead.
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