Monday, May 30, 2011

"CHAOS" on CBS Holds Promise, If it Remains on the Schedule

The creators of the new show CHAOS on CBS drew me in immediately with the title.   About a group of rogue CIA officers, the name is an obvious reference to the sinister KAOS, foil to Control, in the ultimate TV spy spoof, Get Smart.

An hour-long drama attempting to be humorous, CHAOS does not measure up to that great program of the 1960’s brought to us by the unrivaled Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, but it does have its moments.  True aficionados of the genre will recognize a bit of background music from the 1967 Bond satire, Casino Royale.

CHAOS on CBS is no Get Smart,
but it does have its moments

Eric Close is the biggest name in a cast.  The others are Tim Blake Nelson, Freddy Rodriguez, James Murray, Carmen Ejogo and Christina Cole.  Kurtwood Smith, the dad from That 70’s Show, plays the CIA Director.

The first four named above are members of a unit called the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services (CHAOS) who, according to CBS, combat threats to national security amidst bureaucratic gridlock, rampant incompetence and political infighting - and try to have some fun at the same time.  Sounds promising, right?

In the first episode I watched, a female operative in Hong Kong has been exposed and the team must fly there to protect her.  They find that the agent has been duped by her contact and is at the mercy of a military officer who is not who he claims to be.  Not really funny stuff for a genuine member of the CIA.  

Despite that, the producers try to make this funny and clever with little success.  The writers construct a scenario where one of the CHAOS team, Tim Blake Nelson, is the former flame of the compromised officer.  When the two meet up, they bicker and engage in what is supposed to be witty repartee.  It doesn’t work.

In another installment, the team is involved with the drug cartels of Bolivia.  A little better than the first, this episode focuses on the guys in the team and their dependence on each other.  The humor is a notch above and the plot a bit thicker than the previously mentioned episode, leading me to believe this program has potential.

Now on Saturdays at 8 p.m., CHAOS has returned from a hiatus after three episodes that aired in April.  I was able to watch two episodes online, but can’t find the third.  There’s no word yet on the future of the program, except that CBS has it on the current schedule.

I’d keep on eye on CHAOS, because it could get a lot better.  But this spy show has a way to go before it can be compared to its predecessors.  If this one doesn’t take hold, try the equally mediocre Covert Affairs on USA returning on June 7th.


  1. Hi Deb,
    I'm your newest follower. I found the blog when I was tooling around FB (seeing you with Sen. Kerry) then checking out your company. What an impressive career you have! Have you done Career Day presentations etc. to students over the years?

    I see we share some of the same TV interests, though I have to say I am down to just a few shows and lots of cable news.

    You might be the perfect one to ask about one TV show I remember that came and went in a flash: Run Buddy Run. It had to be in the mid to late 60's. Also, I concur with your views of Too Big To Fail.
    Enjoy the weekend.

  2. Thank you for reading, Mary. I do not recall Run, Buddy Run.". Best, Debra