From the moment the series was announced, I’d been looking forward to the premiere of Undercovers more than any other new fall show. It’s a new spy show! By J.J. Abrams! One of the leads (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was in Doctor Who! They’ve got Gerald McRaney, who I last saw in the fantastic Jericho*! And did I mention, J.J. Abrams!
We’re now two episodes into the series, and all I can think is: this can’t be all there is to it, right?
Now, it isn’t a bad show. It’s … cute. I like cute. I watch Castle and Bones because they are cute. (I don’t know what it means about my psyche that I think two shows about murders are cute. I’d better move along.) But with Undercovers, I wanted more than just cute. I’m really hoping it’s under there somewhere and about to hit us all over the head with a shovel.
I’ve become an unabashed J.J. Abrams fan over the last decade. I love Fringe. I loved Alias. I loved the new Star Trek movie. And I loved Lost. My expectation of Undercovers was that it would do what all of those do/did: surprise me. Engage me. “Wow” me. So far? I don’t care all that much.
The same is true for the two leads, but I don’t think that is the fault of the actors. Boris Kodjoe has a double-dose of charisma on his side and Mbatha-Raw slides her character from caterer to agent and back with believability and ease. The two have great chemistry, but they have nothing to work with. Their characters haven’t been challenged by anything except a coffee machine. Not yet, anyway.
I have to hope that they are just making us comfortable right now. Look at the happy couple! Look at the ditzy underachieving sister! Look at the curmudgeonly handler! Look at the hero-worshiping helper! Look at the wise-cracking ex-boyfriend/ex-partner that causes conflict! Nothing to worry about here, it’s all just cute!
Please, let Lizzy the less-than-successful sister be an evil agent of some sort. Or let Hoyt the not-quite-professional-enough helper be a mastermind. Or let Shaw the sort-of-grumpy handler be setting them up for a big fall (one side comment of his in the premiere gives me hope that he’s setting them up for something). Or let Leo the ex-boyfriend be … nah, let Leo be Leo. I kind of like him as is, and he’s the only thing ruining the “Shiny Happy Caterers Who Take Spy Vacations” vibe.
Come on, Undercovers. Wow me. Because if this is it? I’ll be very disappointed. I’m staying optimistic that there’s a lot more going on than we know, but I hope that they don’t wait too long to show it.
*Really, have you seen Jericho? It’s quite good. You should check it out. I’ll wait here while you do.
What do you think of Undercovers?