22
Sep
2010
Undercovers: Season 1, Episode 1
Pilot
Jordan
Just last night I avoided comparing a new show to my favorite show by its creator. It wouldn't have been fair to compare Running Wilde to Arrested Development, just as it wouldn't be fair to compare Undercovers to Alias. The latter was an incredibly entertaining hour of television (if not much more) for the majority of its run. To be fair to Undercovers, I will avoid comparing it to Alias. Instead, I will look at it through the lens of the genre it tries to fit into: the action rom com. This is a genre I find potentially incredibly lucrative, and almost always disappointing. The real problem with the genre, to my view, is that it is written by action writers, who may be good at staging action set pieces, but are less adept at banter, which is essential to the success of any show in the genre. JJ Abrams should have been able to pull it off, as Alias was often very clever, but it seems this time he just phoned one in. In the interest of saving you all time, I will dispense with a long plot summary and in-depth analysis, and simply provide a list of all the ways this show went wrong, which I think will also shed light on the ways its unlikely to go right in weeks to come:

-The exposition on the show is handled terribly. Instead of talking like a husband and wife, the leads talk to each other like exposition robots who are just being introduced.

-Using postcards for every location the show visits is not cute. It is grating and boring.

-I don't care how good you are under torture, you don't grunt when someone breaks your finger. You scream bloody murder, last I checked.

-This show uses the word "sexpionage." Many times. "Sexpionage" is probably the least sexy way possible to describe that action.

-Wow. The bad guy killed the henchman who failed him. Has that ever been done before?

-The subplot about the catering business is incredibly boring, just as the sister character is terribly annoying. My guess is both become more prominent in the coming weeks.

-Every time someone says "Get a room," a good screenwriter kills himself.

-You really don't want to pull out the rocket launcher card in the pilot. It sort of thins your deck in the coming weeks.

It may seem like I just phoned in this review, and to an extent I did. But if JJ Abrams can phone in an entire show, I think I can phone in my review of it. In less bullet pointed terms, this show uses the basic template for a show of its kind and does not deviate one iota. Undercovers is not a bad show. It will only make you angry if you really hate mediocrity. It did not offend me, nor did it make me angry. Honestly, the best thing I can say about the show is that within a week, I'll probably forget it ever existed.

Grade: C

Notes:

-The only thing that felt more like a JJ Abrams show than a cheap rip off of same was the shockingly long cold open. I recall some episodes of Alias where the credits didn't roll until literally half way through the show. Way to make this feel like your own, Abrams!
Tags: Undercovers
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