Taken a method, Tracker, the brand new CBS drama premiering after the Tremendous Bowl, is probably essentially the most generic procedural ever devised. It stars a blandly charming white man (Justin Hartley of This Is Us fame to most, Smallville fame to me) who makes a residing discovering lacking individuals and accumulating reward cash, utilizing his expertise as a survivalist to journey the nation and see issues others don’t, charming a neighborhood woman cop or physician alongside the way in which. On the floor, Tracker is about as generic as community dramas come, essentially the most smooth-brained 42 minutes you possibly can spend between adverts shouting WHOPPER WHOPPER WHOPPER WHOPPER or itemizing pharmaceutical unwanted side effects. However I feel Tracker is fascinating, truly, based mostly totally round what it isn’t about.
Colter Shaw (sure, that’s his identify) is notably not a cop, neither is he a detective. He calls himself, moderately critically, “a rewardist” — as a result of he tracks down lacking individuals for reward cash, which he at all times collects. This offers Tracker’s protagonist a mercenary edge that the present shouldn’t be notably inquisitive about exploring; he’s very clearly in it for the cash but additionally a pleasant man who needs to become involved and assist individuals, so long as they’ll pay. Colter’s civilian standing can also be uninterrogated — since he’s not a cop, the individuals he questions on his journey to search out that episode’s lacking particular person don’t have any actual motive to cooperate with him, particularly in the event that they’re concerned in some criminality.
However once more: Shaw has no superlative expertise to point out off nor bizarre character quirks that assist him navigate such roadblocks. He’s not a prickly Sherlock Holmes sort, nor does he have an uncommon expertise like instantly figuring out when somebody is mendacity or rigging collectively elaborate gizmos out of pantry gadgets. In Tracker, issues simply work out for Colter, as a result of in the event that they didn’t the present would cease in its tracks.
Photograph: Michael Courtney/CBS
Due to all this, Tracker comes throughout as an awfully anxious present, one fastidiously constructed to not alienate anybody, in the end being compelling to nobody. It doesn’t middle cops to keep away from being known as copaganda. It’s decidedly not-urban, set primarily within the verdant expanses of Actual America to faucet into that Yellowstone Pink State attraction — however not with out alienating liberal viewers inquisitive about illustration. Colter is notably supported by a comfortable lesbian couple who finds new rewards for him to trace, and a tech assist man of shade with prosthetic limbs. (None of those characters share scenes instantly with Colter, as a result of they largely simply speak to him on the telephone.)
Tracker’s anodyne nature is a bit puzzling given its pedigree. The collection is an adaptation of Jeffery Deaver’s The By no means Recreation, the primary of 4 Colter Shaw novels with a very wild plot abstract that Tracker doesn’t come inside spitting distance of. Co-executive producer Ben Winters can also be an acclaimed novelist with a quick however promising TV resume to this point, beforehand engaged on FX’s Legion. Learn generously, that is simply the fact of getting a community drama on the air in 2024 — beginning as generically as attainable simply to get a inexperienced mild, and amassing the momentum to get actually bizarre with it. (Very similar to earlier excellent CBS dramas The Good Spouse and Particular person of Curiosity.)
Not less than, that’s what I need to imagine. There are such a lot of meaty instructions Tracker may go that it looks as if it takes actual willpower to not discover them, based mostly on the primary two episodes. After all, the present may break in an much more uncomfortable path — I’ve not seen a present extra primed to only do a whole-ass Sound of Freedom arc proper out of the field. Actually, although? That will most likely be extra memorable than the model of the present we have now proper now.