How did author Kate Atkinson help create new Shonda Rhimes drama The Catch?

Mireille Enos and Peter Krause star in the latest drama from the ShondaLand stable

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There is an enigma at the heart of this new, flashy US crime drama. That it’s flashy should be no surprise as it comes from the same Shonda Rhimes stable as those slick big-hitters Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. It has all the quick editing, shiny buildings and over-reliance on a pop soundtrack as you’d expect.

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But what is unusual is that, nestling in the end credits, is the name Kate Atkinson. Yes, Kate Atkinson the award-winning novelist, whose books such as Behind the Scenes of the Museum and Life after Life feature dazzling literary tricks and nuanced explorations of the human condition.

She’s also the creator of the doughty Yorkshire detective Jackson Brodie, who seems as far away from the glamorous LA world portrayed in The Catch as it’s possible to be. So why is Atkinson’s name there?

Well, it seems that she wrote the treatment for the series – and fans of the Brodie books will notice a similarity between the story and a plotline in When Will There Be Good News. 

So is Kate swapping books for the glossy world of television? I hope not as I’d prefer her to keep writing her brilliant novels. That’s not to be sniffy about The Catch — which is fun — but it’s a bit of an odd match.

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The series starts with what is becoming the ubiquitous “James Bond” pre-credits opening, in which we’re introduced to the hero, top LA private detective Alice Vaughan (played by star of The Killing USA Mireille Enos), as she demonstrates why she’s so good at her job — catching a conman trying to steal a Renoir painting from an art gallery.

But soon we’re into the meat of the action, following Alice as she tries to ensnare the super-smart fraudster Mr X (Six Feet Under’s Peter Krause), who has been targeting Alice’s clients, taunting her all the while. It’s this game of cat-and-mouse that plays out over the series, but much like Tom and Jerry this is a relationship of co-dependency and mutual loathing/love. No sooner has Alice stepped on a rake than she’s seasoning Mr X for the pot.

All the while this is going on, Alice’s partner at the agency is trying to get her to focus on her upcoming wedding to her super-smart fiancé. And we soon see that Mr X is closer to her than she thinks…

The Catch is glossy entertainment at its finest, but Enos and Krause are good enough actors to suggest at the inner emotional turmoil of their characters and add a bit of depth beneath the Shondaland sheen.

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The Catch begins tonight at 10pm on Sky Living