'Undercovers' - Season 1, Episode 2 Recap (VIDEO)
by Bob Sassone, posted Sep 30th 2010 12:15AM
['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.
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