LOS ANGELES, January 24, 2017 – CBS has introduced a new “Survivor”-style reality competition it calls “Hunted.” Now available via local CBS TV affiliates, the new show pits 18 individuals against an experienced team of fugitive hunters with real-world experience and careers in the FBI, CIA, NSA, the U.S. Marshals Service and other government law enforcement agencies.
Employing high-tech and crime-busting technologies, these experienced hunters will attempt to capture the contestants inside a 100,000-square-mile zone that encompasses Georgia, South Carolina, northern Florida and eastern Alabama. The season premiered Sunday, January 22, and will shortly move to its permanent home on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
The concept driving the show is the assumption that it’s nearly impossible to move around the country without leaving an electronic data trail. Examples include Facebook posts that identify your location, security camera footage from a variety of sources and ATM machines that signal the hunters every time you withdraw money. The eighteen fugitives must elude the hunters for 28 days in order to claim a prize of $250,000.
The first episode of this new series introduced us to six contestants. The first team includes former gang member David Windecher, who admits to being arrested 13 times but is now a criminal defense attorney; and his partner, Emily Cox, the daughter of a local pastor whom he has been dating for two years.
The second team to go on the run includes Angela and Michele, the latter of whom is driven to their rendezvous point by her trucker sister–logical because Michelle’s husband owns a trucking company, something the hunters are quickly able to spot.
The final team is a striking engaged couple, Matt–a strapping 6’8″, and his fiancée Cristina, a model. It might be tough for this pair to hide.
In the initial episode, the fugitive task force searches Emily’s apartment, while she and David are hiding out in a friend’s apartment and are unaware that a fugitive hunter is staking out the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Matt and Christina head for Atlanta but are forced to ditch their car in Augusta, Georgia. They end up putting on wigs and buying bus tickets, the better to get out of town quickly and presumably unnoticed. Unfortunately, they use an ATM at the bus station to get more cash. This alerts the task force, which heads for Atlanta to wait for the couple.
David and Emily discover the fugitive hunter team outside their friend’s house and decide to have their friend drive them out of there as they hide in the trunk of the car. CBS closes out the episode leaving us to wonder whether David and Emily will be captured or if Matt & Christina will sneak out of the bus terminal without detection.
This new “reality show” is an interesting concept, probably basing its origins, at least in part, in that hoary old story of human-on-human hunting, “The Greatest Game.” But the concept is updated by the introduction of high tech hunting tools as well as a wider range for the hunted.
But in some ways, a certain creepiness lies just beneath the surface gloss of this series. Just how much do hackers, governments, law enforcement, and anyone else in possession of high-tech “hunting” tools know right now about each and every one of us?
As for “Hunted,” over the next few weeks, the Nielsens should give us some idea as to how long this “greatest game” will last for TV viewers.