Spy Series 'Undercovers' Surprisingly Underperforms USA

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This lark of a show, which many have likened to classic escapism like Hart to Hart, also sidesteps the usual sexual-tension "'shipper" dilemma by introducing its leads as already married, having put the spy game aside to start a catering business until they're called back to duty (by a gruff Gerald McRaney), finding the action to be a much-needed aphrodisiac for their cooled-off ardor. Undercovers coins the term "sex-pionage," and the camera does love this couple as they embark on a globe-trotting mission (Madrid! Paris! Russia!) to locate a fellow agent with whom Sam once had a fling. It's like the biggest-budget USA Network show you ever saw, fun to watch but rather forgettable, because the stakes just don't feel all that high. Still, for those who've had their fill of dark drama, Undercovers may be just the ticket for a good snuggle.

This really isn't my kind of show (just like Vegas isn't my kind of getaway), but the tone is irresistibly rambunctious as O'Connell (the irreverent horndog) and Belushi (the canny strategist, unhappily divorced) treat the court like a boxing ring, with their considerable egos on the line. It's a brash, enjoyable hour that doesn't take itself very seriously, though fighting for their underdog clients is very serious business.

She is terrific as Kathryn Peale, a tough and intimidating boss and fearful opponent to her law-school buddy Jimmy Brogan (Morrow), who gets a kick out of their taunting gamesmanship. But my resistance to the format stands. The episodes zip back and forth between the defense and prosecution teams as each builds a case and reacts to the other side's latest strategies. It's all very fast-paced but relentlessly and annoyingly simplistic, with virtually no dramatic nourishment along the way. The show's other gimmick is to add a reveal at the end of each episode to let us know who was really responsible for the crime and whether justice was served. In the two episodes I watched, can't say I really cared by the end.

Their scenes are enjoyable enough, but pale next to the wine-sodden antics of Jules' circle of friends as they play a hilarious "movie mash-up" drinking game that Jules somehow can't get the hang of. Cougar Town developed in its first season from a crude and rather desperate sex farce to a terrifically enjoyable ensemble piece that doesn't need big guest stars to zing.Although if it brings more eyeballs to the show, all the better.


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