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July 26, 2010

Covert Affairs 1.2: "Walter's Walk"

I don't have too many notes on this one because I watched it while painting my nails. Really, it's the perfect show for that - breezy, fun, making even the real international stakes seem light and amusing. More after the jump.

Plot: Last week it was Russians, this week it's the IRA! Whee! The choice of enemies definitely adds to the show's retro feeling. Of course, this was played up in this episode by all the antiquated technology being used, and by the references to classic spy novels. And having a kid find the spy ring was an interesting message. It's as though the show is trying to reassure us: "Don't worry about all that new terrorism stuff! The enemies are the same old guys, using the same old methods! Even a child could figure this out!" It seems a deliberate play to the audience's anxieties, and an unabashed opportunity for escapism.

Production: Catching viewers up via Annie's dream at the beginning rather than the traditional "previouslies" is an interesting choice. In a way, it does seem more natural, but it can't possibly be sustained without just looking silly. She can't be having these dreams every week. The new title sequence was cute.

Annie: I'm starting to like her a little better, although her family/work angst will get old quickly, especially when it leads to a lack of professionalism (like when it was the one question she asked Elliott). I'm hoping that the fact that she signed the guardian papers at the end of the episode means that at least some of this has been resolved.

Auggie: I'm starting to get why people are 'shipping him with Annie. He's a little too perfect, though, and needs some flaws to make him into a believable character.

Conrad/Jai: Where did Conrad go? Do we know? Arthur said something about him being gone, but I can't remember if we were given an explanation last week. Does this mean Eric Lively is off the show? Bah. I liked him. Jai is a reasonable replacement, I suppose, and the tension he causes is fun. We'll see.

Joan/Arthur: We got to see a little more of the background of their relationship, which was useful, but Joan's outright refusal to be professional when her husband is involved is starting to bug me. When you're discussing a work issue, don't protest that your husband outranks you only at work. That's all that matters right now, honey. If this couple is being presented as the result of the supposed pro-dating policy at the CIA, then I'm thinking they might want to revisit that policy.

Posted by Kat at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2010

Covert Affairs 1.1: "Pilot"

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 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

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