Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review - Covert Affairs Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot

Inevitably, there will be comparisons of Covert Affairs to Alias--mostly from people who make dumb gut reactions, many prominent critics included. Yes they're both spy shows about a young woman joining the CIA, but there have been plenty of spy shows created--and besides, La Femme Nikita, also a USA show, debuted years before Alias. While all these people continually chant Alias, it's hard to ignore their ignorance.

Covert Affairs strikes a unique tone. It's breezy, bright in tone and lighting. There's nothing remotely close to Nikita caught with a knife in a dark alley or Sydney finding her fiance dead. So let's stop the comparisons. Frankly, it's annoying seeing ________ compared to Alias as if its the Holy Grail of television.

Piper Perabo--who hasn't done anything notable since Coyote Ugly--is the real surprise. Starring a CIA trainee, Annie Walker, she doesn't just exceed expectations; she blows them away, completely. She's earnest, warm, fun, innocent, and wildly entertaining to watch. I have no idea why Perabo hasn't been a bigger star, but she's here now and I predict the series will go on for years.

Almost equally awesome is Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham). He's blind, having been hurt in the field, but that doesn't keep him down. Guiding Annie around the CIA facility, Auggie is helpful and maintains a positive outlook on life, definitely not hampered by the attraction of women to him.

There's a decent spy work in the pilot, containing plenty of action and thrills, and an average story about a Russian spy. If it's indicative of what we'll see in later weeks, I'm definitely up for more.

The rest of the pieces, however, are not on par, and it's a shame really. Kari Matchett and Peter Gallagher play Joan and Arthur Campell, a married CIA couple with marital problems. They aren't particularly interesting, but at Annie's superiors, so we'll have to see them often. For no good reason, there's this other CIA guy called Conrad Sheehan (Eric Lively). He does absolutely nothing in the pilot, except exchange a few lines with various characters.

Setting up the double life drama is Annie's sister Danielle (Anne Dudek) and Danielle's young daughter. They have no clue what Annie is up to and Danielle has the obligatory line how Annie could never be a spy. And the audience snickers in the back of their mind, not at Danielle but at the writers.

The central mystery to the show is Annie's ex-boyfriend, who mysteriously dumped her only weeks after they met. Apparently, the CIA wants him and Annie's joining the CIA is a ploy to get him into the open. The plan seems to have worked, her ex saving her at the end of the episode.

Like pretty much every other summer show, with few exceptions (Mad Men, Rescue Me, Friday Night Lights), Covert Affairs isn't deep or hard hitting. People can enjoy it for what it is--a fun spy show.

Score: 8.8/10
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