Thursday, March 31, 2011


CBS dramas stick so predictably to a certain template (sober procedurals with interchangeable weekly cases and stock character types) that Chaos is jarring merely because it deviates a bit from that formula. It's still a procedural about a law-enforcement team, but it comes with a strained comedic tone and cast of quirky characters that seem like they'd be more at home on USA or TNT. The problem is that the show tries to have things both ways, throwing in painful bits of wackiness alongside deadly serious rescue missions against armed terrorists. Neither part succeeds.

The pilot is also full of so many double- and triple-crosses that it just gets exhausting, even though it seems sort of ironed out by the end. Freddy Rodriguez plays a newbie CIA agent who's assigned to spy on a team of unconventional operatives -- except they figure it out right away and he eventually becomes a genuine member of their crazy little outfit. So you've got the agents who don't play by the rules but get the job done, and their humorless boss (Kurtwood Smith, the world's humorless boss) who wants everything done according to protocol. It's a boring dynamic that isn't made more entertaining by the awkward goofiness. The show is trying way too hard to seem fun, but then it has to pull back to give enough seriousness to the team's deadly mission. Creator Tom Spezialy has worked on a lot of shows that balance comedy and drama (Desperate Housewives, Chuck, Reaper, Dead Like Me), but here he gets it all wrong.

Premieres tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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