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July 22, 2010

Covert Affairs 1.1: "Pilot"

TV: Covert Affairs

Ooh, spies! Russians! Shiny! That's about where I am with Covert Affairs after the pilot. I like basically every show on USA - they're fun and witty and have lots of pretty people - but none of them really call for much analysis. Regardless of that fact, I wrote another four paragraphs about this one, after the jump.

First, the opening scenes: the polygraph was a nice way to infodump about the character's background, but the sudden questions about separating work and personal stuff seemed odd and made it too obvious to the viewer that the CIA was interested in Annie for some particular reason beyond her language skills and ability to pass as a call girl. That in turn made the big reveal of that fact at the end less dramatic than it might have otherwise been. The "jumping out of a plane" scene at the beginning was a little too obvious a "jumping into the dangerous unknown" symbol, but enh, this show isn't trying to be subtle.

In some ways, this episode came across as a standard workplace drama that happened to be set at the CIA, and that's an interesting conceit. Of course, I'm assuming that it's totally unrealistic, but still. (What did seem fairly plausible: the computer systems. Thanks, show! I love it when you don't make me suspend disbelief in that particular area!) Does the CIA really encourage dating within the agency? Hmm. It will be interesting to see how office politics and interpersonal relationships play out when the stakes are so much higher than they are in most places. And the way Annie had to give the award back at the end of the episode was an interesting symbol for what it's like to work for this version of the CIA.

The spy plot having to do with Russia manages to come across as both timely and old-fashioned, as does the show itself. I got perhaps a little too excited when I realized that they were going the Russian route, and I may have shrieked with glee when they said someone "came in from the cold." (Shut up. It's genetic.) The plot wasn't particularly complicated or surprising, but that wasn't necessarily a problem. (A few points seemed a bit farfetched - that Joan would let Annie just go back to the hotel, and that the teacher would guess the CIA connection immediately, unless there's more going on there than we know.) The action sequences were slick and fun. Overall, the show was light and breezy, with just enough hints of ongoing intrigue - the cryptic reference to Annie's predecessor, the mystery of Annie's ex Ben - to pull the audience back in next week.

First impressions of the characters:
Annie: She's fine. I don't really have strong feels about her yet. Piper Perabo looks an awful lot like Liza Weil, huh? Her betrayal story was kind of an odd reason for joining the CIA, I thought. Or maybe I mean extreme. I mean, lots of people have been through bad break-ups, and they don't all decide to become spies because they can never trust again. I hope there's more to the story.
Auggie: I like him, and the jazz references aren't as annoying as they'd usually be. So far, they're doing a good job of not making his blindness the whole point of his character. I know a lot of people want him and Annie to get together, but I'm not quite feeling it yet. For now, I'd be happy with them as friends.
Conrad: He is played by Blake Lively's big brother, if you were wondering. He's not particularly exciting, but a fine foil for Auggie.
Joan Campbell: Delightfully snarky. Loved "Clarity? You're in the wrong business, sweetie."
Arthur Campbell: He was interesting mostly in others' reactions to him. We'll see.
Annie's family: Not quite interesting yet, but I hope they put some focus there to show how Annie makes the double life work.

Posted by Kat at July 22, 2010 02:00 PM
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