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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Undercovers popularizes sexpionage

    For those viewers still missing Alias, among which I count myself, NBC's new show, Undercovers is the next best thing.  It has action, excitement, adventure, international travel, romance, cooking, and J. J. Abrams.  All of the necessary ingredidents to create one hell of a spy show.  Plus, after just one week, it has coined a term sure to grown in the pop culture lexicon: sexpionage.

     The series stars Boris Kodjoe (Soul Food) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Spooks, Doctor Who) as husband and wife Steven and Samantha Bloom.  Both were top spies for the C.I.A., but kept the details of their classified lives from each other.  When they decide to tie the knot, the gave up the job to run a catering business together, retiring from the dangerous but titilating game they played.  By the way, Samantha's somewhat inept sister, Lizzy (Mekia Cox, 90210) works for them, so they have someone to keep them grounded.  As the pilot begins, they have been in this comfortable, but boring, state for five years.  But it doesn't stay that way for long.

     Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre, American Heiress), a former partner and boyfriend of Samantha's, who trained with Steven, has gone missing, and may be defecting from the U.S.  Unknown to his friends, Leo has been captured by some Russians, but that's all part of his strategy to take down a dangerous man.  Agent Shaw (Gerald McRaney, Jericho, Major Dad) is reluctantly sent to bring the Blooms back into the fold, enlisting their help to find Leo.  Shaw is not happy about re-recruiting them, but he also isn't telling them (or the audience) the real reason why it is so essential the reactive the Blooms, when there are plenty of capable agents working already.

     Steven and Samantha both claim to be happy in suburbia, but separately approach Shaw to accept the job, on the condition that the spouse not be told.  It is quickly revealed that they both have the same idea, and with the help of Bill Hoyt (Ben Schwartz), who worships Steven, they set off to do the job.  It's a good thing they've both kept in shape and their skills remained honed.  Boy, would it have been embarassing if Steven's beer gut got in the way!  Yet, somehow despite their unhappiness with the status quo, they are still the same people who left the spy business, which makes for much sexier television.  The Blooms, despite having never worked together until after their wedding, already have a great rhytm and chemistry down.  I assume this is because that they are both so dedicated to their relationship, which while suffering a bit of a dry spell, is not what they want changed in their lives.  Once the thrill come back, they are able to swiftly reconnect in all aspects of their lives.

     Ok, so as you can see from my last paragraph, there is a bit of cheesiness.  But it's soon forgotten, because the rest of the elements are so nicely laid in place.  It's a fun ride, and well worth a TiVo season pass.  It's telling that I've forgotten to mention til now that it's the first show of it's kind starring an Afrian-American couple.  It's nice we've finally reached a point where that's not a necessary thing to mention, as it's not the slightest bit crucial to the show itself.  The couple is as sexy, inspiring, and heroic as any pair that have come before them.

     And although J. J.'s goodluck charm, Greg Grunberg is nowhere in sight (yet), imdb.com lists his brother Brad Grunberg in 7 episodes so far.  Perhaps a new era of Grunberg will emerge?

     The second episode of Undercovers airs tonight at 8pm on NBC.

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