Sunday, January 23, 2011

Undercovers: The Key to It All (1.11)

It's about damn time that the mythology element to Undercovers was explored, but frustratingly we were once again just blessed with the 'idea' of mythology. Here we have a secret key, a locked vault, and a mysterious book. The problem is that just by having allusions to mythology doesn't make the show more interesting. It's the show dragging its feet to create some kind of tension or drama, but it's only succeeded in backfiring completely. A show like Heroes also seemed to intentionally drag out story arcs and 'ideas' for so long that they became stale, and that show too became unwatchable. The fact that NBC ordered several additional scripts and, after reading them, then decided to cancel the series goes a long way in revealing that even after warnings of cancellation, the show didn't re-tool enough to make the concept work.

That's not to say the episode is at all bad. The hostage crisis, usually a cheap dramatic trick, was handled well, with a lot of tension as Sam fixed up the injured parties while listening in on the terrorist's conversations. Elsewhere, the chase sequences beneath the ground were similarly effective. It was a little annoying that Agent Anderson looked like she fell right out of some soft-porn trash show from the past, like V.I.P. or She Spies, but I guess Undercovers isn't pursuing realism at this point.

It was also refreshing to see the Agents Bloom actually questioning why they were brought back into the fold. They're not the smartest cookies in the jar (neither actor has exactly sold any kind of intelligence in their characters), but it was welcome to spot some skepticism or some indication that they're actual people. We also had Alan Dale as the vaguely sinister Director General, but since the show is canceled, I'm not going to elaborate on the decent casting job there. And the mystery dude from Crashed who was talking to Major Dad is Professor Shilling, if the guest star list is any indication...

It's hard to build up any excitement for the show because it's long gone already, but there were a couple of successful elements at work here. If the show didn't drag its feet so much then it probably wouldn't have been canned. Rating B-

Guest stars Amir Arison (Israeli Officer); Tina Casciani (Agent Anderson); Alan Dale (James Kelvin); Chad Everett (Professor Shilling); Ilia Volok (Russian Terrorist)
Writer Phil Klemmer Director Tucker Gates

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