‘Tracker’ Review: CBS’s Post-Super Bowl Drama Is Football Fan-Friendly Fare

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CBS drama Tracker gets the plum post-Super Bowl launch spot. What will viewers see if and when they watch? Justin Hartley, who played Kevin on This Is Us, in a new role.

Tough and street-smart, Hartley plays Colter Shaw, a lone wolf who roams the country as a reward-seeker, helping find missing persons.

The pilot sees Colter in Klamath Falls, Oregon, searching for a teen named Gil who is believed to be abducted by his birth father. Colter drives a pickup truck, which hauls an Airstream trailer, which is his home.

There are flashbacks to Colter’s childhood. His father was a professor who fell out of favor at Cal Berkeley and took his family to live off the grid. He’s violent and scary, and deals with growing paranoia. Dad teaches his children the survivalist skills that serve Colter well in his line of work, which he refers to as being a “rewardist.”

“It’s a steady living,” is how Colter describes his vocation. “Everybody’s looking for something.”

As he chases down missing persons, Colter deals with issues stemming from his difficult childhood and dysfunctional family. One family member texts him repeatedly, asking him to call.

Colter is rough and tumble, but has a favorable bedside manner with those who hire him, and reads people well. “I notice things,” he says. “It’s my job.”

In business with Colter are Teddi (Robin Weigert) and Velma (Abby McEnany), a quirky and kind-hearted duo that fields calls for his services, sends him on his next assignment, and finds a lawyer when the situation calls for it, which is pretty frequently.

Fiona Rene plays Reenie, an attorney who helps Colter now and then, but resents him for a fling that ended abruptly. The character is simply too much, her negative energy, at least in the first two episodes, blasting over the brim.

Also pitching in is Bobby (Eric Graise), who uses his contacts and hacking skills to dig up relevant information for Colter. The two trade barbs like brothers.

The pilot features a literal cliffhanger, Colter and Gil hanging from the back of a perp’s pickup truck as the truck balances perilously on the edge of a cliff.

Each episode’s title is the location where it takes place. The pilot is called “Klamath Falls.” The second episode is “Springland” and features a missing young woman, her sister trying to find her and a very wealthy and powerful family who would much prefer that people think the lady simply moved away. They’d also prefer that Colter get the hell out of their sleepy burg.

Like the pilot, the second episode features a shirtless Colter in the first five minutes.

Tracker is based on the Jeffrey Deaver book series The Never Game. Is it any good? It is, at times, fun to watch, and is well-suited to capture the viewing crowd, full of Bud Lights and pigs in a blanket, nestled into the couch after Chiefs-Niners.

Hartley plays Colter well, the character offering a much more physical role than Hartley had on This Is Us. He sustains a hodgepodge of gunshots, knife wounds and punches in the first couple episodes. Colter’s mix of brains and brawn make him somewhat intriguing. Women find him irresistible.

As Colter is a survivalist as well as a rewardist, much of the scenes take place outdoors, with often dramatic landscapes.

We’ve seen two episodes, and we’re guessing the veteran producers, including Ken Olin and Elwood Reid, are savvy enough to have Colter fail in a mission every now and then, and perhaps not get the girl. That would make Tracker more believable–and would make Colter Shaw more relatable and more fun to watch.