Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coming soon to a TV screen near you: Sexpionage!

That's right folks, we've got a new word to enter into our pop culture lexicon and it's sexpionage. Thank you, J.J. Abrams.

Yep, I've seen Undercovers.

Earlier today an alert went around the office that the new NBC pilot Undercovers was available for screening on a WB website, but to login ASAP as it would likely be taken down. Well, being the J.J. fan that I am, and TV junkie (obv), I logged in immediately - and good thing because sure enough, mere minutes later the site was no longer accessible (in other words, someone at Warner Brothers is in deep shit right now, because that link went to a TV tracking board with a reach far and wide in this town, and I'd say Undercovers is the pilot on most severe lockdown this year).

Fortunately, I had left the link open in my browser after successfully logging on, and was able to watch the whole thing. I'm not going to give away major plot details or anything, especially since I wasn't technically supposed to see this pilot, and it sort of just fell into my lap, but I will share some first impressions...

Undercovers is sexy and stylized, from the music, to the title card, the locations, and of course - the two leads. Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw play a fun and believable married couple, who happen to be spies (and caterers - quite a combo). Obviously, they're both very good looking, but they were well-cast and they have good chemistry. These two definitely bring the fun (and yes, the sexpionage) to the show. I will add that while watching I couldn't help but think this is closest to Abram's other beloved spy-show Alias, minus the sometimes convoluted mythology, and there were a lot of fun action scenes that reminded me of Alias in its first two seasons.

My only major quip with what I saw was that occasionally the show bordered on the cheesy (yep, the word sexpionage is actually uttered in dialogue - more than once!) and there were some character developments that were a little, well, underdeveloped. Furthermore, there were a few instances when everything seemed to come together just a little too conveniently. But ultimately it's a good pilot that sets up what is likely to be a fun and engaging show. I was most surprised to finish the pilot with a sense that this would definitely have a bit of a prodcedural nature - although I think that format will work for Undercovers, and as it is from J.J. Abrams, I can't imagine the show wouldn't have some sort of serialized component.

However, is NBC the right network for Undercovers? Honestly, I'm not sure. Last night I watched another heavily-guarded NBC pilot, Love Bites from Cindy Chupack (another big name), which is also a fun, well-styled unconventional type of TV show, and again unlike the network's other programming or perceived brand. Or at least, what NBC's brand used to be. The thing is, NBC really is in a place of transition, so who knows. Undercovers felt a little better suited for ABC or FOX to me, but it could be just the sort of fresh breath of air the network so desperately needs.

I would definitely recommend tuning in when Undercovers premieres in the fall. I'm not sure if it will be compelling enough to keep me tuning in week after week, but I definitely found this first episode to be a fun ride, and I'm willing to give it a shot. I mean, for the sexpionage, at the very least!


ProgGrrl said...

Lucky you! I'm curious about this one, as I have enjoyed a lot of JJ Abrams productions over the years. That said, I'm a fan(atic) about the 1990s Nikita TV show, and the trailers/clips of this version are not pulling me in...

Anonymous said...

The first 2 seasons of Alias were steller - if this show is 1/2 as good I'll be watching.