Television Reviews

Feel the Thrill of the Capture (a.k.a. the Fake Hunger Games)

Feel the Thrill of the <i>Capture</i> (a.k.a. the Fake <i>Hunger Games</i>)

When I heard the CW was producing a reality show based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel The Hunger Games, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Riding on the coattails of another franchise is bad enough, but creating a game show around a contest where people kill one another just seemed morbid. Even the name, Capture, felt incredibly uninspired. With so much going against it, this new show seemed like it would sink before it even touched water. However, Capture has demonstrated surprising resourcefulness, and in the end, transformed a playground game into a satisfying competition.

The premise of the show is simple and, thankfully, non-lethal. 12 teams of two are placed in a ten-mile, fenced-in enclosure of wilderness, to compete in what can only be described as a hard-core game of tag. They are given a limited amount of food and shelter, and must use their own skills to acquire more resources. At the start of the day, one team is randomly selected to be the "Hunters" and are given a disc device known as "The Talon." The teams are then released into the wilderness and the game begins.

If a Hunter manages to tag another player with the Talon, the tagged are then taken back to camp and that team is put up for elimination by their peers. If the Hunters capture two teams (1 each day) then they are safe from elimination. However, if the hunters fail to capture another team in the allotted time, they take the vacant place at elimination. If they fail to capture any teams during their tenure as hunters, they are immediately disqualified from the competition. So whether hunter or hunted, all players are at risk.

Subtle nuances are applied to make the game more challenging. Teams can't stay in one place for more than three minutes without broadcasting their location, and opportunities to gather supplies must be weighed against the threat of capture. An athletic team may have the advantage of strength and speed, but this also makes them bigger targets for sabotage, and more likely to get voted out if caught. Where Capture really shines though, is in the diversity of its cast.

The Pink team seems like just a pair of unassuming girls, until you find out they're wilderness survival specialists. When the Lime team is targeted, an "injury" makes them appear far less threatening, and the Purple team - two Parkour fanatics - can leap through the underbrush like African gazelles. There's also plenty of personality to go around, from a pair of British twins who seem completely in sync, to best friends who will do anything to win. There are heroes, there are villains, and there are those who are just trying to play the game. Either way, only one team will win.

Capture will appeal to fans of Collins' literature and anyone who enjoys outdoor sports. There's plenty of suspense, and enough drama to make this game worth watching. There will no doubt be individuals who found The Hunger Games distasteful, and don't appreciate a contest that gives homage to the book. If that's the case, simply take the advice Gale Hawthorne proposed in the first chapter,

"Just Don’t Watch."


*This Review First Published 8/12/2013

**Watch Capture Tuesdays on the CW.