Take Me to the Pilots '10: NBC's 'Undercovers'
[As I've already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Undercovers," NBC
The Pitch: "'Alias' in that brief period where Sydney and Vaughn were happy, only with more diversity." Or, more realistically, "'Chuck' only with more diversity." Or, "Hart to Hart" with more diversity." Ir maybe, "'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' with more diversity."
Quick Response: There's a pretty clear hook here: "Undercovers" is like many TV shows and movies you've seen before, but you've probably never seen them before with leads who look like Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. You wouldn't think that in 2010, we'd have to throw a parade for this, but we still probably do. Kudos. Total kudos. As is so often the case with Abrams shows, the leading lady, Mbatha-Raw, is the revelation. She's sexy, funny, kicks butt and does an American accent that seems flawless until, in character, she does a British accent and you realize how flawless that is as well. Mbatha-Raw is definitely a star. Kodjoe is stolid, charming and unimpeachably good-looking, but he has a certain placidness that may be at odds with the subject matter and may have been what stood in the way of his stardom previously. He's *too* cool. The pilot has Gerald McRaney in superb form as their disapproving Agency handler and Ben Schwartz, a little too broad and mugging, in the Marshall/Morgan role. The script by J.J. Abrams and Josh Reims has some action romantic-comedy cleverness, but not more than you'd expect from an episode of "Chuck" and the procedural plot in the pilot is generic and no different from countless episodes of "Alias" or, again, "Chuck." Spies flirt, get dressed up, go to fancy galas and chase Eastern European baddies. With Abrams directing, the "Undercovers" pilot looks amazing and has energy to burn.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll definitely stick with this for a while. And why wouldn't I? I don't think I've missed an episode of any J.J. Abrams-produced show other than "Six Degrees." NBC's thinking on this one is weird, since "Undercovers" is basically a more expensive "Chuck," a show the network has never been able to sell. NBC is assuming Abrams is the real star here and precedent suggests that's a problematic gamble.
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
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