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September 2, 2014

'Undercovers' - Season 1, Episode 2 Recap (VIDEO)

by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 30th 2010 12:15AM


Undercovers['Undercovers' - 'Instructions']

'Undercovers' has all of the things I like in a TV show: action, charming leads, international locations, lots of humor, it's done by J.J. Abrams and company, and it's set in the exciting world of spies and intrigue. It has all of the ingredients of a hit show I'd love.

So why do I find it so boring?

Probably because the action has been done before, a show needs more than charming leads, the international locations all seem to blend into one another after a while, the humor isn't that funny, J.J. Abrams and company have done this before (and better) and the spy world has become the "go to" plot for too many shows.

How's that for a summary?

There's nothing about the show that's really terrible, it's just that it's been done so many times before, and there really isn't anything new to grab viewers' attention.

Take tonight's episode. Members of a secret military outfit take things into their own hands and kill a bunch of scientists, kidnapping one of them. Besides the fact that several people were machine-gunned to death in the first five minutes of an 8PM show, it's a standard plot, filled with chases and fights and bomb wires that have to be cut (bombs that have handy digital timers, of course).

I guess there are only so many spy plots that a TV show can have, but another Abrams show, 'Alias,' did it a lot better. A comparison with 'Alias' is always going to be made, and it's fair. It's done by the same people and even some of the action scenes are similar to the ABC show.

Tonight's episode had an ending you might see on an '80s cable action show. Good guys try to disarm a bomb while another good guy chases the bad guy on foot, punches him a few times, and then the bad guy is lead away into custody. The kidnapped scientist is reunited with her husband and the world is safe for another week (and the stuff about the kidnapped wife and her husband wasn't even shown, it was told to the spies by boss Gerald McRaney). Seriously?

Part of the problem is those charming leads. I'd like to watch a spy show with one of them as the star, either the spy-husband or the spy-wife (preferably the wife), but both of them, as a married couple? It was OK in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith,' but that was a movie that was over in two hours. This is something we have to watch every single week, and watching the spy-couple read spy files in bed while they're in their underwear is tired even after just two episodes. The banter just isn't clever enough.

They spy-couple run a catering business when they're not fighting bad guys, and I think a show based around that business might be more interesting to watch. Think of all the nasty, demanding customers they could go up against!

I like the character of spy Leo Nash because he slept with the spy-wife in the past and now he's helping the spy-couple on assignments (and will be helping them every assignment, as we found out tonight). If the show lasts for another season maybe Nash can be her partner.

As for the other supporting spy characters, they're very predictable. You have the nerdy spy who knows all the techie stuff and provides the comic relief on missions (I think that's a network directive now -- every show has to have one of those), and we have the hard-as-nails boss who gives them assignments. Why is he so hard-as-nails all the time? He has this gruff demeanor and he's not sure if these two are right for the job.

Just how long is he going to have that attitude? Shouldn't he change his mind after a few assignments when they prove that they can get the job done? How long will that last, and will it last just so there is wacky tension with the boss?

This week we got a hint that there's more to the husband's departure from the CIA than has been talked about. Nash knows, but the wife doesn't. Like the techie sidekick, every show has to have a bigger plot at its center now, though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Looking over what I wrote above it seems like I think it's one of the worst new shows of the season. It's not. It's just that ... well, maybe I was expecting a little bit more. The show does have a certain entertainment value, and if you like spy shows it's an OK way to kill an hour. Just don't expect anything new.

'Undercovers' airs Wednesdays at 8PM ET on NBC.

[Follow Bob on Twitter.]

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Europa

I missed the first episode of this show [for some reason] so I thought I'd give it a try with this second episode. I tried, I really tried but after about 15 minutes I thought, "Oh well. Mark this off of my 'Must See' list."

All the things you mentioned were true for me too. It's got all the right ingredients but something is missing. It's like MSG. You know you shouldn't use it but, Man!, the shrimp fried rice tastes so much better with it. This show is missing its "MSG."

I still think a show with a happy couple (married or otherwise) can work in this day and age. I hate it, and don't believe it, when people say, "If the leads get together that's the end of the show." BS (pardon my French). If a show has all the "right stuff" it doesn't matter if the leads are together, apart, black, white, or purple space aliens from the back side of Mars. It will work. This show just doesn't have the "right stuff." Maybe it will come in time but if it does, I'll have to catch it on the DVD.

September 30 2010 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Europa's comment
Sam Anderson

Give this show a chance, it is better than most this year.Remember. "Soul Food" Boris starred on it as well as his real life wife Nicolle Parker. Get her in the mix once in a while and you really have a winner. Great Show.

October 06 2010 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

This show has a lot of potential, but it SUCKS! If it weren't for the fact that the leads are African American and that J. J. Abrams was doing it, it would have been canceled already.

September 30 2010 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lucius

You like Leo Nash?! I can't STAND that truly annoying character! Abrams likes to push the love triangle thing to the point of absurdity.I didn't watch Alias,but it certainly was present on Lost AND Star Trek.When Characters are single,love triangles can be a fun sub-plot,when characters are married and there's a love triangle,it becomes 'Dallas' or something darker.If I was Steven Bloom,I would have already had a little 'discussion' with Nash.Listen,I get that they're trying to do 'Hart to Hart',but I don't think that's a good idea.The World is just TOO different now.There is a way to tell this story,but I'm not sure if there's a will to tell it in the way it should be told.First of all,there are TOO MANY characters,this is supposed to be about a married couple who are spies(which I believe does happen),not TEAM CIA.But regardless of whether there are 'too many cooks in the kitchen' so to speak,if the show fails it won't be because of the cast,but the overall (lack of)direction of the show.

September 30 2010 at 1:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Val

Man this show is so boring and I was hoping it would do well especially with two Black leads. How the hell did JJ Abrams make a show about spies boring? Finally got Black people back on Network television that aren't having sex with Ross and they screw it up! (CONSPIRACY!!!)

Are Terrance Howard and Cleavland Brown my only hope? DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!

September 30 2010 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Val's comment
wulfn1

The pilot was great, the interaction of the leads played well, and the irritation of the handler was humorous. In fact there was a touch of humor sprinkled throughout the show ,which made it enjoyable and interesting to watch.
It lacked that this week. Maybe they'll see the comments posted on the web and the writers will try and do a better job.

All in all I found it disappointing this week.

September 30 2010 at 11:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sam Anderson

It is a fun show with top and beautiful talent. Remember Soul Food. Boris starred on it. Bring in once in a while Nicole Parker, real wife of Boris just to stir things up. GIVE this show a chance!!!!

October 06 2010 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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