Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pilot Review: Undercovers

Undercovers (NBC)
Premiered September 22 at 8pm

I wasn’t so sure about this show at the beginning of the premiere, but it quickly won me over and ranks as one of the strongest pilots for the 2010-2011 season I’ve seen yet. Most importantly, it’s also probably the show that has the best sustainability potential, having crafted a smart premise and made an introductory episode that can segue perfectly into a highly enjoyable series. I was initially mystified by the choice of two essentially unknown, non-American stars since they don’t seem terribly dynamic, but as the pilot went on, it became clear that they are a lot of fun together, and their banter is highly entertaining. Gugu Mbatha-Raw certainly knows how to be seductive and funny, and I especially loved the smooth Boris Kodjoe’s delivery of “I know what she said!” followed by “This is not the end of the conversation!” They make a fantastic pair, and they handle action scenes very well together. Ben Schwartz’s sidekick Bill Hoyt is annoying but not too annoying, and I think the part will be a good amount of fun. The other agent slash suspected traitor Leo Nash is a bit more comical and definitely trying to steal some scenes, and I’m not sure how and to what extent he’ll be incorporated in the future. Gerald McRaney sure isn’t energetic at all, and it’s fine for this role even though his talents were much better used in the unfortunately cancelled “Jericho.” I liked the cool title cards detailing the locations and the show certainly succeeds with the use of dramatic music and flashy cinematography. The focus on their spy lives rather than the I’m ready to call this one a hit, and unless next week really cancels out the awesomeness of this premiere, I’ll look forward to watching this show for a while.

How will it work as a series? I’ll have to wait until next week to officially make that call, but I think it will be very enjoyable. The two main characters are fantastic, and there’s just the right amount of support and possibilities for villains that this show could work pretty well for a nice long time. I’m not yet sure whether it’s going to be a larger-arc kind of series or whether it’s going to focus on different villains every episode; either way, I think it can work marvelously.
How long will it last? Well, the ratings weren’t any better (or much worse) than those of the pilot of the now-defunct “Mercy” in this time slot last year, but I suspect that NBC will want to hold on to what could be their next big hit. “The Event” isn’t a slam dunk and it’s definitely not going to be “Outlaw” or “Outsourced” (perhaps the prefix is the damning factor), so I think they’ll stick with this one, and they’ll likely renew it if the ratings improve.


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