Monday, February 9, 2015

Pilot Review: Allegiance

Allegiance (NBC)
Premiered February 5 at 10pm

Before I sat down to watch this show, I thought it was the one with Anna Friel as a spy, which is actually “Odyssey,” which doesn’t premiere on NBC for another two months. Instead, it’s yet another series that deals with spies embedded within other spies, namely one highly functional FBI agent whose mother just happens to be a former KGB operative activated again by a restored connection to her dangerous past. It’s not a terribly compelling concept after similar things have been so many times in the past, and the main appeal here is theoretically how insular it all is, that Alex is one of the FBI’s best and his parents work directly for Moscow. The main problem, and one I’ve had in the past with series like “The Mob Doctor,” is that there is so much emphasis put on how important recruiting this vital asset, but there is already so much free-floating intelligence that would seem to make the attainment of another asset unnecessary. If multiple spies already know the inner workings of the American government, why go to so much effort to turn someone else? Despite its protagonist’s command of logic, this show does not share the same commitment to coherence, opting instead for high-speed car chases and other excitement to fill its scenes. Of the cast, I’m disappointed to see Hope Davis follow up a previous Emmy-nominated spectacular TV role in “In Treatment” with this, and I guess a grumpy higher-up part for Kenneth Choi is a decent promotion after his recurring turn as Henry Lin on “Sons of Anarchy.” I don’t think that this show would have intrigued me even if it had been much better, but this pilot didn’t grab me at all.

How will it work as a series? Alex realizing that the dead Russian traitor was someone he knew opened up the can of worms, and now he’s going to have a totally different relationship with his family. I’ll admit that I watched the “This season on” preview at the end of the episode, so I know what twists and turns appear to be coming, and I’m not too optimistic about what I perceive as soapy and forced turns instead of true drama.
How long will it last? Not long, it appears. NBC is having a bit of a comeback lately, and that means that those shows that don’t impress are almost certainly goners. “The Blacklist” did well in its premiere, and following that up with lackluster numbers bodes poorly for this show, which is likely headed towards cancellation at or before the end of its first season.

Pilot grade: D+

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