“Hoyt? It’s the woman married to the man you love. We’re gonna need a buncha stuff really fast.” – Samantha
I sure am watching a lot of spy shoes lately. First Chuck, then Nikita this year, and now the latest spy/romantic-comedy hybrid from NBC, Undercovers. I’ll say it right off the bat: I really liked it and it is currently my favorite new show that I’ve tried picking up this season. The inevitable Chuck comparisons will probably be made; the premise here is that a pair of former covert agents and current spouses to each other are called back into action after 5 years of retirement in order to investigate the disappearance of a former colleague of theirs. Along the way, they realize that they really missed it or they rediscover the spark that was missing from their marriage or some other contrived reason to keep up the premise of the show. At least, it sounded pretty contrived on paper. The difference here is that it actually feels pretty convincing between the two lead characters. Steven and Samantha Brown have been running a catering business in the 5 years since they left the espionage game, and it’s clear that they still have a bit of spark in their marriage. They enjoy each others company, they lightly sass each other, and the banter between them is quick and effortless. And yet, despite everything that they still have with each other, you can easily tell that through the course of completing their one-off mission that they were recruited for, they discover something that they never knew they were missing (or I guess they never had, since they had never actually worked with each other in the spy game before). They both sport huge smiles as they escape from a bank they broke into to steal security footage. They steal a few minutes to dance in a grand ballroom that they sneaked into to . Whether or not it sounds corny on paper, the lead actors make it work with the insane amount of chemistry they have for each other. The few supporting cast members we met in the pilot are a ton of fun too: Carlton Shaw, their commander and recruiter of sorts, just exudes dry sarcasm and brings a certain bit of no-nonsense credibility to the show. And Hoyt, their support team member, is hilarious as the all-too-eager-to-meet-his-personal-hero fanboy of Steven Bloom (actually, his performance is the tiniest bit over-the-top, but he also has several genuinely funny moments, so I’m willing to overlook it for now).
It’s Chuck, with slicker productions, but less of the goofy earnestness. It’s Nikita, but more light-hearted and with better chemistry. It’s fast, it’s witty, it’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s likeable, it’s exciting, it’s clever. There are moments that seem kinda dumb when you stop to think about it (why exactly did they take on this mission again? They don’t really explain too much, except for perhaps the implication that the three of them were at one point good friends), but I was having too much fun and was too busy keeping up with the quick (but not too quick!) pace of the show to really be bothered by it that much. I’m not sure if there’s going to be a long continuous story in the show or if it’s going to be more of a mission-of-the-week style series, but either way, I’m really looking forward to more. People are going to inevitably compare all these damn spy shows that are on right now, but honestly, it stands on its own as a unique and fresh entry in the world of spy-related TV shows. There’s no reason why can’t make room in our lives for all of them. I certainly plan on doing just that.
Oh yeah, and the main actress’ name is Gugu Mbatha-Raw. I might have to check, but I’m pretty sure that’s my new favorite name of all time.