Fiona Renee and Justin Hartley in “Tracker,” which premieres after the Super Bowl.
CBS presented its version of “Equalizer” After the Super Bowl the last time the network aired the big game, and the programmers liked what they saw. So they're leveraging that huge platform again to help launch a very similar series, “tracker” Built around how much you like “this is us” a star Justin Hartleywho also helps desperate people – just with a mercenary touch.
Hartley's character, Colter Shaw, finds missing people (for a fee) and gets injured a lot in the first few episodes, which certainly seems like a convenient excuse to make him take off his shirt (and support his personal trainer).
Adapted from the novel “The Never Game,” the series has a fun procedural quality — think a modern-day “Rockford Files” — as Shaw takes on a new case each week, criss-crossing the country in a well-equipped recreational vehicle. He's sent from place to place by the team of Velma (Work in Progress's Abbie McEnany) and Teddy (Deadwood's Robin Weigert), who playfully argue about having too many dogs and handle all their business with Colter over the phone.
Shaw's extended circle also includes an accomplished hacker/tech expert (Eric Grace) and a skilled lawyer (Fiona Renee). Aside from being a former flame, the latter is particularly useful, since Shaw tends to have his share of run-ins with local authorities who don't much like labor-for-hire agents descending on their towns.
The only modern twist in what feels like a very old-school series — aside from the amusing and diverse supporting players — involves Shaw's personal backstory with his surviving father (Lee Tergesen, in scattered flashbacks), suggesting tense family dynamics and secrets Which are presented in a sequential manner using the storytelling equivalent of an eyedropper.
Ultimately, though, the show's appeal boils down to Hartley, who spent his share of time as a superhero on the CW (including the “Aquaman” and “Smallville” pilots) before finding an extended home and more angsty alter ego on NBC. “this is us.”
Hartley serves as a producer on the project, so he has an incentive to shoulder the load. Whether that's enough to earn “Tracker” a long run remains to be seen, but by allowing the show to appear in the biggest televised event of the year, CBS is stocking the RV with a full tank of installments rolling off the starting line.
“Tracker” premieres February 11 after the Super Bowl, and will regularly air Sundays at 9 PM ET on CBS.
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