The Reality TV Guru

Take the Money and Run, Tuesdays 9:00, ABC

Tonight is this season's final episode of Take the Money & Run on ABC

Tonight ends ABC’s six-episode airing of Take the Money & Run. At stake is $100,000 that must be carefully hidden by the show’s contestants so that two local detectives cannot find it. The contestants must also undergo grueling questioning by the show’s regular interrogators, Paul Bishop and Mary Hanlon-Stone.

This week takes us back to Windy City, a concrete jungle that offers a multitude of hiding places for the money. Kate Waltz and Anthony Fanelli are a dating couple who could use a bit of extra cash for their future together. They’re up against Chicago detectives Mike Byrne and John Scalise, a grizzled pair of experienced gumshoes.

Kate and Anthony start in Millennium Park. There, they meet the Briefcase Man in dark shades who gives them the briefcase with $100,000 and instructions on how to play the recording attached to it. The couple squat together on a bridge and play the message. Now with an hour to go, they race around other people in the park and hop into the GPS-equipped SUV provided to them. Anthony is at the wheel while Kate has the briefcase cuffed to her wrist.

Their plan is to create an “elaborate trail” which first heads toward Fullerton Parkway to the Lincoln Park Zoo. They get caught in a bit of traffic and then find a spot to hide the money immediately in a small copse of woods near the zoo. They hastily toss the briefcase in some light underbrush about ten feet off of a foot trail within the park. The suitcase is not well-hidden, easily visible to anyone searching for it along the trail.

They jump into the SUV and put as much distance from themselves and the briefcase. They stop into a parking garage as a decoy, knowing that the cops will have access to their receipts. That garage might have been a better place to hide the briefcase with all its crooks and nannies.

They leave the garage and make their way to a placed called The Dugout. They’re quite visible to the bartender and people in the pub (notably without a briefcase). They leave there and continue their drive until they get notice that they’re about to be placed into custody. They did not place any calls but they did send texts along the route, so the cops will have the GPS route, text messages and receipts as clues to where they’ve been.

At the street location where they are placed into custody, the two cops rifle through their belongings, including Kate’s purse. She looks worried as she tells Anthony that they took her purse. He asks her what was in it and she says, “Stuff.” They’re booked at Niles Police Station and will have to endure almost 48 hours of cell time and interrogations.

The Chicago cops and show interrogators team up at the station and carefully go through the route taken by Kate and Anthony, flagging possible hiding locations with Post-Its. They also go through all of their belongings looking for clues. The cops find the receipts to the garage and The Dugout and then go over the text messages, with the time when they were sent circled in red.

Anthony is the first one to be questioned with both Paul and Mary carrying out the interrogation. They manage to get him to talk a bit and then he trips up a bit when Mary asks him about a park, saying “I don’t know a park.” Well, the rules are such that the culprits can’t say “I don’t know” or “I forgot” (even though they are allowed to lie) to prevent stonewalling. “They do have to talk to us,” Paul reminds us. Anthony is not good at hiding his facial expressions and it’s clear that Paul and Mary can read him pretty well.

Kate is questioned next by the interrogation duo. Paul pulls up a chair close to her and tells her that he can tell when she’s lying by the furrows on her forehead. They’re laying it on her pretty thick and she’s suddenly looking kind of uncomfortable (which is the idea, of course). Paul and Mary get a number of clues from Kate, particularly where there are some inconsistencies between the two stories told by Anthony and Kate. Paul says it’s not quite enough yet, but the more information (including false statements) they get, the more they have to go on.

The two Chicago cops, Mike and John, hit the streets and start with the parking garage. There, the cops have a look around and look fairly carefully for the briefcase just before night falls. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been a good idea to try to hide it there, after all.

Meanwhile, the separate questioning of Anthony and Kate continues with Paul and Mary working together against them, two on one. The questions come fast and the answers, truth or lie, come spilling out. There’s plenty of material for the interrogators to work with as they begin wearing the couple down. It’s only a matter of time before one of them does a blooper that will quickly narrow the search. They suspect that the couple had already let go of the briefcase before going inside The Dugout.

With this, the cops search around the area of The Dugout, but obviously don’t turn up anything. The interrogators then consider where the couple would have hidden the briefcase prior to reaching The Dugout. They replay the couple’s text to Vinny (a decoy): “Game change, We’re screwed. Bring case to Dugout.”

With a bit more than 25 hours to go, the focus of the investigation returns to The Dugout. The cops decide to case the pub, sitting in their car from a distance. They see a gal and a guy hanging out by the entrance to the pub sending texts, and they’re guessing the guy is Vinny. They get out and approach they guy and gal outside The Dugout and the guy says he doesn’t know anything about the case.

Suddenly, another guy walks quickly by into the pub and the cops follow him inside. “I’m not gonna get arrested, am I?” he asks. (Of course not, this is a reality TV show, where you can make a total fool out of yourself, but you won’t get arrested.) The guy who walked by is John Boyle, one of the guys the couple contacted. The cops look carefully around inside The Dugout, thinking the suitcase might be hidden there. After fruitlessly searching for the case, they call the interrogators back at HQ with an update.

Now the cops realize the case is probably somewhere between Millennium Park and Lincoln Park. The interrogation continues separately within Anthony’s cell and Kate’s cell, where Paul and Mary try to get clues about the couple’s activity in the area of the two parks. Anthony seems to be holding up Ok, but Kate is looking more worried as time goes by. She gets defensive, with her hands on her hips and tries to pass off a lie.

“No, no, no!” Mary shouts and shakes her fingers at Kate. “Yes, yes, yes!” Kate counters, shaking her fingers back at Mary! It becomes a finger shooting duel. Paul and Mary have a notion when Kate is telling the truth and when she is lying. With it already late at night and dark outside, the plan now is to search the two parks after day breaks.

The two Chicago cops start with Millennium Park, checking behind trash cans and inside flower beds. They do a pretty thorough job of it, finding (appropriately enough!) a shoe. Not a gumshoe, but a shoe nonetheless. But for all the humor behind this find, time is running out with only four hours remaining.

The interrogation continues with Paul and Mary first questioning Anthony and then Kate. Paul seats himself on her cell bed next to her and puts the pressure on. Kate realizes not much time is left, but she is also tired and is close to cracking. She reveals they went on a garden path and that’s the break the interrogators were looking for as they realize she’s almost telling the whole truth. Paul calls up the cops and tells them to look around Lincoln Park as they’re filling their car with gas with only half an hour remaining! Now it’s only a matter of time before the Chicago cops find the case, but do they have enough time?

The Chicago cops, Mike and John, are still on the road with 20 minutes to go as Paul and Mary try to pin down Kate on a more precise location where they hid the case in the park. Kate looks nervous and they know they’re close to finding out where it is. But with only 5:00 remaining when they begin their search, Mike and John don’t find the case in time. The couple win the $100,000!

Following this show, there are no previews for the next episode with this being the end of the season. The question is, will there be a next season? With so-so ratings, it’s hard to say. After six weeks, the novelty of this show wore off pretty quickly. The running and hiding of the case seems to be the most exciting part, followed by the gumshoe work of the local cops. Perhaps too much of the show went into the interrogations, where the case usually has to be broken.

Often, it has less to do with how well the briefcase is hidden or how well the local detectives do their field work to find it. Rather, it has more to do with how well the contestants can hold up mentally while in custody. If the runners can endure the 48 hours of cell time and fairly intense interrogations, the local cops will usually have too large a field to cover to find the case on their own. This show could use a little reworking to hold viewers interest. The same formula, week in, week out, with slightly different actors, gets old pretty quickly. Will there be another season of Take the Money & Run?

We’ll see. Or not.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus