Friday, November 26, 2010

Undercovers: Assassin (1.7)

They always say that you can correctly guess who the killer is on Law & Order as soon as the famous guest star appears. It's that guy! So when David Anders, aka Alias' Mr. Sark, showed up in the teaser sequence, introduced himself as a flirtatious photographer, and then left... well, it wasn't totally surprising when he turned out to be the villain of the episode. It was a little disappointing, however, that the same executive producer who blessed Anders with one of the last decade's finest TV villains failed to give him anything to work with here. Go figure.

I was reminded a lot of Alias in this episode. First of all, there was the opening trick of a scene featuring something shocking and seemingly implausible. Then the show flashes backwards in time and lets the story unfold, explaining how the characters got to that point. Alias did that all the time, and it brought back fun memories. Then there was the Mission: Impossible-style face mask, which reminded me of the Lauren/Sydney face/offs in that show's third season. Man, Alias rocked.

Anyway, maybe I should actually talk about Undercovers. And maybe the fact that I'm still talking about other shows gives you an indication into what Undercovers is like as a series. It's not at all a bad show; it's just pretty 'blah'. It's mildly fun; it's good to look at. But it's still pretty lifeless, in general. Assassin wasn't a masterpiece, but it held by attention. The story (an agent going undercover, and then finding his new identity at risk unless he can perform a violent act) wasn't original, but the show had fun with it, including that great scene with Leo as Steven's 'victim'. Speaking of Leo, it was great to have him back. He's by far the best character on the show, and adds some necessary life to the proceedings. There was a definite hole in the show for the last two episodes.

Elsewhere, I was a little underwhelmed by Sam's revelations about her CIA past. The idea of her projecting the memory of her professor onto Alberto Loya felt a little contrived, while the final scene lacked any real juice. I was expecting it to be revealed that her professor was actually alive, and in cahoots with Major Dad for some unexplained reason. Anything to make the show a little heavier in terms of mythology. Because right now the show has little identity to work with, and nothing for the audience to really hook onto. Normally in TV, we have a mythology at work, or at least a central relationship to tune in for. With Undercovers, we have a married couple so automatically lose any kind of romantic/will-they-won't-they tension, while there doesn't even seem to be a "grand scheme" at work in the background. As I've said already, it's just 'there'. And it's odd that the show hasn't attempted to improve on that so far. Especially considering the pedigree behind the scenes. Rating C+

Guest stars David Anders (Matthew Hunt); Alex Fernandez (Alberto Loya)
Writer Karin Gist Director Brad Anderson

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