Review: "Chaos"

Reason to watch: The jaunty "Man From U.N.C.L.E." vibe behind the derring-do of four dudes in CIA "black ops"

When/Where: Friday night at 8 on CBS/2

Can CBS' 'Chaos' sustain interest?

"Eaten by Wolves" -- (pictured left to right)

"Eaten by Wolves" -- (pictured left to right) Freddy Rodriguez, Eric Close, James Murray and Tim Blake Nelson, star in CHAOS, a comedic drama about a group of rogue CIA spies in the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services (CHAOS), who combat threats to national security amidst bureaucratic gridlock, rampant incompetence and political infighting. Attacking each assignment with unparalleled confidence and gusto, these operatives perform covert operations, exert political influence and eradicate all manner of evil - and that's just to survive the morning staff meeting. CHAOS premieres Friday, April 1 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Credit: CBS Photo/)

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"How I learned to defend our country, by defying intelligence." So says ex-"Six Feet Under" embalmer (and "Ugly Betty" squeeze) Freddy Rodriguez, now playing a nervous CIA newbie asked to use "the skills and savvy of a seasoned spy, cloaked in the veneer of youthful innocence."

He's assigned by honcho Kurtwood Smith ("That '70s Show") to snoop on the bad boys at the Office of Disruptive Services. This is the kind of team where, when they say "he ate a bullet last week," they're talking stomach pump. These jolly lads (one is Scottish) call each other by endearments like "proud fermenter of negativity" and humbly (not) consider themselves "old-school spooks" allowed to break the rules.

MY SAY Rule-breaking law enforcers! Wherever have we seen this before? But it sure works Friday, seasoned with devil-may-care brio from a cool cast -- Eric Close ("Without a Trace") as lead spook, James Murray ("Primeval") as the import, and Tim Blake Nelson ("Minority Report") as a very unprepossessing "human weapon."

Will it work next week? That's the question after a pilot hour so front-loaded with setup, action, locations and attitude, directed by "X-Men" helmer Brett Ratner, from a brisk script by Tom Spezialy ("Reaper," "Dead Like Me").

BOTTOM LINE They're only as good as their next mission.

GRADE B

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