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So you've seen all of the new shows this fall - but what about the ones that didn't make the cut? For the next 30 days we're going to take a "first look" at a collection of 30 pilots that didn't land on the 2009-10 season schedule. Are there any gems that got passed over or are they all deservedly locked in the networks' vaults? Stay tuned.
SEE KATE RUN (ABC)
(written by John Scott Shepherd; directed by Dean Parisot; TRT: 41:11)
What is it? A drama about the not-quite-together origins of a future Presidential candidate.
Who was behind it?: John Scott Shepherd ("The Days") wrote the script to the pilot, which was directed by feature helmer Dean Parisot ("Fun with Dick and Jane").
The plot in a nutshell: Election Night, 2028. Presidential candidate Katherine Sullivan (Amy Smart) finds herself with a slim lead over her opponent in the electoral collage. Various reporters inform us Sullivan is anything but the typical nominee: the former governor is a divorced single mother with "a romantic history like a soap opera." Her daughter Sarah (Stella Maeve) nevertheless is in awe of her mom's accomplishments. Katherine explains that she's even more surprised at her success, especially considering where her life was 20 years ago.
Cut to the present day where Katherine, er Kate, is slowly recovering from a hard night out. An energy drink and a relaxing burp later (no, we're not joking), Kate's off to her job at the District Attorney's office in Boston. There she discovers that her boss Matt Jenkins ("Battlestar Galactica's" Rick Worthy) is inexplicably taking the Vincent Garcia (Joey Auzenne) case away from Kate's more career-minded best friend Sammy (Liza Lapira) and giving it to her. The reason we'll quickly learn is pretty simple: Kate is being handed a grenade so that Sammy's promotion to ADA will pass without a hitch. It's news that Kate's commitment-phobic boyfriend/fellow lawyer Cooper (Ben Feldman) isn't exactly thrilled about sitting on.
Kate however puts the pieces together pretty quickly: it seems the sole witness against Garcia, a drug dealer in Chelsea, is too afraid to testify, essentially torpedoing the state's case. She nevertheless presses on and, after spiritedly calling out Garcia's strong arm tactics against the people of Chelsea during a press conference, inadvertently finds herself an overnight YouTube sensation. It's the attention of Jack Brookshire (Marc Blucas) however that will change her life forever. A washed-up, scotch-loving campaign manager who now works above a bar, Jack sees a spark inside Kate, one that he's disappointed she's rather trade in for a husband instead of striving for something greater. He issues her a challenge: win the case against Garcia and he'll help her get on the Congressional ticket in the very area that will proclaim her a hero.
Standing in her way then are Sam, who doesn't quite believe in the new leaf Kate's turned over, and Cooper, who's found the stones to propose as the result of all of Kate's newfound attention. Ultimately, Kate gets some new dirt on Garcia (it seems he's also been running an underage porn web site to help finance his lifestyle) and the door to her political future is opened. Along the way we also learn that Kate has mommy issues (she was a Harvard grad/workaholic CEO of a Fortune 500 company who drove Kate's dad away), problems which made her purposely want to follow her older sister's (Ever Carradine) marry-the-rich-surgeon footsteps. So which path will Kate take? Marriage to Cooper and a charmed life or run for Congress and explore previously dormant ambitions? Or maybe a bit of both?
What works: I'm all for any show trying to recapture the spirit of the short-lived "Jack & Bobby" but...
What doesn't: ...wow, is this not "Jack & Bobby." First and foremost is the borderline cartoonish manner in which all of the above transpires. Not only does Kate not have her act together in her 20s, she burps, she accidentally wears her slippers to work, she runs into doors and she trips over just about everything. All that's missing is giant neon signs pointing out said fact. Even sillier is the improbable daisy chain of events that lead to her literal overnight transition from "big wall of cute" to ambitious career gal. Sure the show skirts this issue by pointing out she purposely underachieved over the years, but it's practically all radioed in instead of played out on the screen. It's "Legally Blonde" minus the pathos, and I'm pretty sure "Legally Blonde" was a comedy.
Smart, who's been fun in supporting roles over the years, doesn't add much here as Kate simply just decides to make the leap to adulthood for no other reason than the script says for it to happen. I'm sure there's an organic journey from Kate to Katherine in here somewhere, I just don't see it. The supporting cast, particularly Lapira and Feldman, have their moments but it's nothing that really distracts from "Kate's" inherent flaws. Overall, while I'm all for a lighthearted attempt at the political drama...
The bottom line: ...this is definitely missing the heart part of the equation.