“The Hunger Games” would be a natural fit for reality TV, except for — you know — murder. So, instead of a competition involving pretty people killing each other, The CW gives us “Capture” — a competition involving pretty people basically playing an elaborate game of hide and seek in the woods.
The set-up involves twelve teams of two and in each episode a different team is designated as “Hunters.” They’re tasked with “capturing” two other teams who — if caught — will be put up for elimination decided by a majority vote. If the Hunters don’t fulfill their duties, they’re put up for elimination or eliminated outright. The teams trying to evade capture can’t stay in one place for long, because if they’re stagnant for more than three minutes they’ll pop up on the Hunters’ GPS devices. Adding to the challenge: every week the “arena” gets smaller and smaller.
Everything changes at night when the teams are allowed to rest, interact and strategize when they gather together to sleep in the outdoor base camp (which also allows for the requisite reality TV flirting, scheming and fighting).
It’s a goofy idea but not entirely lacking in a curious appeal. There’s nothing about the show that’s out of the box for reality TV, but the execution is slick — kind of like “The Amazing Race” if it was filmed exclusively in a single West Coast forest — and the contestants are attractive and generally likable. There’s no side competition going on to determine who’s the biggest d-bag or diva (at least in the first episode), which is enough to qualify as “classy” in the genre.
But will anyone even notice? Historically, The CW has yet to develop a single reality TV success (the network’s only reality franchise, “America’s Next Top Model,” was inherited from UPN), and simply delivering a well-made, mostly generic competition in the dead of the summer TV season isn’t likely to change that.
“Hunger Games” comparisons only take you so far when the actual stakes boil down to a lot of running and hiding. Even the prize — $250,000 to be split by the winning team — is fairly ho-hum. It’s likely that the most difficult target for this show to capture will be a sizable audience.