Thursday, October 14, 2010

Undercovers: Instructions (1.2)

A lot of people have complained about how breezy this show is, and while I have to agree that it's been pretty lightweight so far, it's important to remember that it's only just premiered. As TV viewers, we've come to a point where an immediate hook is necessary to capture an audience, and waiting around for a couple of weeks to see a TV series eventually grow and evolve is just too damn long. One of my favorite shows on the air right now, the similarly J.J. Abrams-produced Fringe, took seemingly forever to hit the jackpot, eventually stumbling into stunning science-fiction towards the back-end of its first season. So while Undercovers isn't mind-blowing at this point, it's reliable, sufficient escapism. I'm hoping that it will at some point evolve to loftier, more complicated heights but so far I'm actually enjoying watching the series unfold.

Instructions treads familiar territory from the pilot, rooting some espionage hijinks in a form of marital comedy. The comedy here is generated from the continued banter between Sam and Steven and their newfound partnership as undercover agents. Sam is constantly reminded of Steven's frustrating inability to read the instructions for both kitchen appliances and tracking devices. Heh. I guess it's almost lazy in its comedy, but I guess it depends on how much you want to enjoy the show.

Elsewhere, I love the character of Leo Nash, his past with Sam creating some of the best one-liners this episode. It's a difficult balance to reach, the sunny humor of "do sex with your wife" and the violence of terrorists and imprisoned scientists, but I think the show is striking it pretty well. Leo's also important in that he's the third wheel that will eventually prove necessary for the show to survive. While a lot of the show's intrigue comes from Sam and Steven as a couple, you need that second element of tension to make the show just that little bit more interesting. Without him, the show could get a little tiring after a while.

So while I'm expecting the show to pick up at some point in the next couple of weeks, for now it's impressive. Undercovers speeds along at a brisk pace, has some great locales and some decent action. It's not art, but it's some welcome fun. Rating B

Guest stars David Chisum (John Seidel); Seth Peterson (Bruce Seidel); Stelio Savante (Hollis Kruger); Tehmina Sunny (Dayita Nasir)
Writers J.J. Abrams, Josh Reims Director Steven Williams

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