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'Undercovers' is done; here's why

 

 

I'd like to say this is "too bad," but that'd be a lie. Fact is, "Undercovers" just wasn't very good - and neither was "Lone Star," but no reason to kick dirt on that critically-cherished goner at this late point.

 NBC canceled the show yesterday, and the biggest surprise  here is that it was a J.J.Abrams series; must've been some long difficult moments discussing the fate of this series because one doesn't just cancel J.J. Abrams. I hate to get in the game of "I told you so," but my review was very tepid, and here it is again (below). Don't blame the messenger.

 It'd be absolutely crazy, by the way, for anyone to imply there was some sort of racial component to the audience's rejection of this - both leads are black -  because audiences reject shows with all-white casts all the time. I just think it was dull; a kiddie show presumably for adults.

There's a message here, in my humble opinion: There are simply too many good dramas out there now (and have been) for the mass audience to tolerate sub-standard fare. There are exceptions of course - any drama, good, bad or horrific, that airs on CBS seems to do just fine, and sadly badly depleted "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC is still kicking along (I missed last night; maybe it's reversed a dismal season so far). But NBC has to work harder than anyone else simply to get traction which means the shows it mounts have to be better than anyone else's.

But I'm rattling on this Friday morning. You're busy. So am I. The old review, if you're still with me...

A husband-and-wife spy team are lured back
into the field when an agent goes missing,
and it falls to grumpy agency liaison
Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney) to sell them
on the benefits of returning full time.
Steven (Boris Kodjoe) and Samantha Bloom
(Gugu Mbatha-Raw) aren't easy sells: They
got hitched five years ago after deciding
the life of a spy was incompatible with
marital bliss, and then started a catering
business.

MY SAY

Husband-and-wife spy / detective teams are
as old as the respective genres, and
nearly as old as the hills themselves.
Nick and Nora Charles anyone? Mr. and Mrs.
Smith? "Hart to Hart"? "McMillan and
Wife"? Way past the sexual-tension stage,
they're into comfy middle-class and even
middle-age routine; their tension has, in
fact, become asexual, while their banter
reveals mutual affection but also the
slightest touch of boredom.
Yet there's nothing like killing a few
enemy agents to get the old spark - and
repartee - back. "Honey, this counts as
our European vacation, right?" Samantha
wonders while she and Steven are trailing
a diabolical Russian killer across the
continent. What's new here? Well, the
obvious: Both leads are black, a rarity
for a prime-time drama - Mbatha-Raw is a
stage-trained English actress, while
Kodjoe is Austrian-born.
"Undercovers" is so content to lapse into
genre conventions, that it feels
complacent and banal. Worse, Kodjoe and
Mbatha-Raw have such minimal chemistry
that they seem to be shadowboxing most of
the time. None of the little verbal jabs
connect.

BOTTOM LINE

Solid leads, so-so chemistry, weak
material.

GRADE

C

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