In gathering an informal sense of the TV critics room, I get the impression that I’m in the minority when it comes to NBC’s new spy drama “Undercovers” and I think it’s entirely producer J.J. Abrams‘ fault.
It’s his fault because after “Lost” and “Fringe” people have forgotten the early seasons of “Alias” when Sydney Bristow was juggling a double life and we got to spend a hefty amount of time with her more mundane friends. Or, as I like to call them, “the good seasons.”
I’ll even go out on a limb and say that while I loved “Lost” and have grown quite fond of “Fringe,” in retrospect I was probably more invested in “Felicity” overall.
Which brings us to “Undercovers,” quite possibly one of the best meldings of the two sides of Abrams thus far: the action-adventure guy and the seriously modern romantic.
Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Steven (Boris Kodjoe) Bloom are a couple of married former CIA spies who retired five years ago and now own a catering business in Los Angeles. It’s described as “small” but judging from their work and home environments and that cute little roadster Steven is driving, a comfortable living is coming from somewhere.
Of course, when an old friend goes missing and the CIA comes knocking for the Blooms’ help in finding him, they can’t resist the dangerous call. And as we all know, there’s no such thing as “one last mission.”
The most noteworthy thing about having a primetime drama with African-American leads that is not a “black” show is that it’s so unremarkable. Abrams’ casts have always been diverse without it being forced or fake. Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw are engaging, charming leads and a perfectly believable married couple who love each other and still kind of miss playing a fun spy game every now and again. Period.
With “Undercovers” Abrams appears to have learned many a lesson from “Alias.” More people are in the know than are not and while there is a secret true reason for the Blooms’ reactivation, we have yet to hear one word about a convoluted over-arching mythology involving some 15th century Renaissance man named Rambaldi.
The ends of “Lost” and “24” left a void on the TV landscape, but there really is no need to rush to fill it. Enjoy “Undercovers” for what it is rather than lamenting what it is not.
Photo credit: NBC