NEW YORK — On the set of ABC’s new crime-and-caper drama “The Catch,” Vesper Vivianne Ruck called out “Action!”
The take, featuring her mother, series star Mireille Enos, clearly met with her approval and she called out “Cut!”
A bit later, Vesper ran into Peter Krause, her mom’s co-star, and proudly announced she had just landed her first directing job.
“She’s precocious,” says Enos of 5-year-old Vesper, who had made the most of her visit to the set. “She wants to take over the world.”
If that’s true, little Vesper fits squarely into the ethos of “The Catch,” which vibrates with woman power.
For starters, it joins the female-fueled portfolio of Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, producers of “Grey’s Anatomy,” ”Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” as it inherits the latter series’ time slot at 9 p.m. Thursday, a night whose prime-time schedule Rhimes owns across the board. (“HTGAWM” has ended its season.)
Enos, in her role as Los Angeles’ top private investigator Alice Vaughan, continues the ShondaLand custom of centering its sagas on a woman who’s strong, resourceful, sexy and successful, even as she falls short of superwoman status: Alice, like Shonda heroines Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope, also has a vulnerable streak.
Spoiler alert: Read no further if you want to preserve the first of what will likely be a long line of hairpin story twists served up by “The Catch.”
The thing is, Alice is in love with a perfect guy, Benjamin Jones. Played by the always-appealing Krause (late of “Parenthood” and “Six Feet Under”), Ben is rich, charming and caters to her every need. After a year of dating, he has popped the question.
But in the blink of an eye, he (along with his false identity) disappears, conning Alice out of her life savings in the process.
“Are you ready to play?” her scamming ex mocks Alice in a catch-me-if-you-can parting shot.
“She is a powerful girl on the planet,” says Enos during a phone interview. “She is feisty and energetic and playful and loving. And then this terrible thing happens that throws her on a mission: finding the man who broke her heart.”
Alice, backed with her firm’s varied but attractive team, will tackle other cases each week, but finding Mr. Right-Gone-Wrong will be Job One.
And here’s yet another twist: Despite Ben’s lifelong career as a high-end flimflammer, it’s possible he really loves her and wishes he could win her back.
“I like to think of the show as ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ meets ‘Romeo and Juliet,'” says Enos, “with star-crossed lovers who are meant to be together while the world is conspiring against them.”
“The Catch” returns Mireille (pronounced MEE-RAY) to the role of detective, but Alice Vaughan, who favors Louboutins, is a vastly different brand of gumshoe from Enos’ previous role, that of Homicide Detective Sarah Linden on AMC’s “The Killing,” where she was brooding and haunted as she trudged through a ghastly murder investigation soaked in Seattle rain.
By contrast, L.A. sun and sheen prevail on “The Catch,” where Enos is as glammed-up as she was dressed-down in “The Killing.”
“You gotta keep mixing it up, right?” she laughs at the mention of her TV makeover. “Here in Los Angeles they’re doing this bang-up job with publicity on buses and billboards, and I look up there at my shiny lips! Usually I only do dress-up girl for the red carpet, and now I get to do it every day at work.”
After “The Killing,” the Houston native, now 40, took time off to spend with Vesper, and then, 20 months ago, gave birth to a son, Larkin Zouey, with husband Alan Ruck (“Spin City,” ”Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”).
“I wasn’t sure what my next job would be when I got back to work, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be a new Shonda Rhimes caper!” Enos says gratefully. “That seems like a wonderful place to spend some years.”
Now filming the seventh of this spring season’s 10 episodes, Enos has gotten cozy with her character. But it required lots of preparation.
“You should see the box of books I have in my trailer!” she crows. “Books about the CIA. About how to read body language. ‘Private Investigating for Dummies.’ How to make cool things out of random household objects.”
With any luck, she could also be spending a few years cat-and-mousing with Krause, whom she describes as “a really good guy who imbues every character with heart. So even if he’s playing the quote-unquote bad guy, the viewer wants to root for him.”
Even so, he must never underestimate Alice Vaughan. Nor should viewers. Like the old saying goes, hell has no fury like a woman scorned. And it’s never more fun to watch the results than on one of Shonda’s shows.