CBS is known for their serious crime dramas and franchises. Three “CSI”s solve murders, “Without a Trace” finds people, “NCIS” defuses bombs or something, I don’t know. They should stick to what they’re good at. Their attempt at a wacky CIA caper does not work at all. “Chaos” is the wacky take on all the government intrigue clichés. It’s so stupid, it makes USA’s “Covert Affairs” look like “Alias.”
Rick Martinez (Freddie Rodriguez) checks in to the CIA for his first day at work. Immediately he’s flagged on the watch list and security takes him down and confiscates his fluids (soup he brought for lunch.) Get it? Because Homeland Security makes mistakes.
He interviews with Higgins (Kurtwood Smith) of the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services department (CAOS). Higgins tells him the position he’s been hired for has been cut. Martinez blubbers about how he’s always dreamed of being an agent and took all the tests. That gives Higgins the idea to make him a mole in the Office of Disruptive Services and report their offenses to him.
The ODS is full of one-note characters too. Casey Malick (Tim Blake Nelson) is the straight man, if only because he seems like he actually knows what he’s doing as an agent. The skills he demonstrates at the end of the episode might count as a joke, because they’re uncharacteristically badass for a suit sitting at a desk, but it still fits the realms of a standard CIA agent. Michael Dorset (Eric Close) seems to be the exposition guy explaining everything to Martinez, and Billy Collins (James Murray) is the Scottish wild card. He calls Martinez “muy caliente” and does Sean Connery impressions.
The ODS is onto Martinez though so they quickly turn the tables, but they also win him (and the audience presumably) over to their side. So maybe Higgins is the real villain, which would make sense considering they cast Kurtwood Smith. Also, Fay (Carmen Ejogo) seduces Martinez, but he blows it and now she doesn’t like him anymore so he’ll spend the whole series getting back to first base.
There are some big stunts and they are played so stupid it wastes the stuntmen’s talents. Martinez rolls out of a car and quivers as another car stops short of him. They actually go out in the field to some desert and jungle locations. Whatever production value that adds is ruined by slapstick and bug eating.
Every character bumbles or lacks common sense. Higgins intercepts a cell phone and thinks a call from the owner’s mother is code for espionage. Kick ass martial arts are still played for “laughs,” because you’d never expect that guy to know how to fight! They’re just trying so hard it’s sad.