Pilot Watch: 'Undercovers'
by Joel Keller, posted Jul 5th 2010 11:23AM
From now through the end of July, we're going to be taking a quick look at the fall and mid-season pilots that the networks sent to critics after their upfront presentations.
Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall.
Timeslot: Wednesdays, 8PM ET
The lowdown: Steven and Samantha Bloom (Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) run a catering company in Los Angeles. But at one time, they were a pair of crack agents for the CIA. They fell in love on the job, but never worked together or discussed each other's missions; they left the spy life in order to enjoy their lives together. But they are called back to duty by CIA liaison Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney) to find their old agency friend Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre), who might have gone rogue. The Blooms criss-cross the globe, joined by staff agent/ Steven Bloom fanatic Bill Hoyt (Ben Schwartz), in search of Nash, and in the process they find that they're attracted to each other all over again.
What we're saying: When you think J.J. Abrams, you think of dark settings, mysterious heroes and villains, and continuing storylines that simultaneously enthrall and confound. 'Undercovers' is a little bit different. The vibe here is lighter, more in the popcorn adventure vein than a show like 'Lost' or 'Fringe,' which requires attention and devotion from the audience. There is a lot more humor in this episode than in typical Abrams fare, and Josh Reims of 'Brothers and Sisters' has definitely helped enhance and strengthen the relationship aspects of the show. It's what 'Chuck' would be if Chuck and Sarah were married but still continued to go on spy missions.
Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw make for an appealing couple, and the old-married-couple banter between them crackles in many scenes. And it's always good to see McRaney back on broadcast TV playing his usual patriotic hard-ass. The show can succeed as an adventure-of-the-week spy caper drama, and ditch the usual Abrams darkness and complexity, if we see more of the Blooms discovering just how good each other is at their jobs. It was something they never were able to see when they were spies the first time around, and it was the most intriguing part of the story in the pilot.
Here's a preview:
Let us know what you think. Can Abrams pull off a lighthearted romantic spy caper show?