Thursday, October 28, 2010

Undercovers: Devices (1.3)

I think what Undercovers is lacking is some emotional depth in its characters. On both Alias and Fringe, even if certain episodes didn't work, we had protagonists who were immediately fascinating and likable. Even Fringe, despite almost its entire cast of characters at first being pretty generic and dull, at least had Walter, intriguing and endearing right from the get-go. So far, the cast of Undercovers haven't entirely won me over. I don't feel as if I necessarily know these people, let alone explicitly care about them. Sure, Leo and Hoyt are both pretty amusing, and I guess Sam and Steven are fine to watch every week, but I don't particularly care about them so far.

This could be a result of so much of every episode so far being so mission-oriented. The only time we spend with them outside of the field are in the five minutes worth of day-to-day activity at their restaurant. But it feels like so much of that time is given to Sam's sister, the fat guy chef and the gay chef (I don't know any of their names), leaving Sam and Steven remaining identity-less ciphers. Sure, they're ridiculously beautiful, but they're not particularly fascinating so far. We need to see some vulnerability, some real insight into their personalities, and personally I'm surprised that such talented executive producers haven't given them that so far.

Devices, as an action episode, clearly worked. It had a simple but effective structure (filled with repeated breaking-ins of various high-security buildings), while I liked the classic double-bluff of the kidnapped teenager being revealed as the device itself, instead of it being some literal device made of wires and plastic.

As always, Undercovers is working as a breezy spy series, but there are still numerous problems, and getting the audience to actually care about any of it is the biggest one there. When there are so many action/espionage series on the air (including the surprisingly badass Nikita), this show really needs to improve... and fast. Rating B-

Guest stars Philippe Brenninkmeyer (Karl Becker); Norman Lehnert (Ivan); Alex Schemmer (Mathias Faber)
Writers J.J. Abrams, Josh Reims Director Tucker Gates

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