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“We’re Not in Coyote Ugly anymore, Toto!” – A Brief Look at the Pilot for USA Network’s Covert Affairs

“We’re tough!  We’re (relatively) young.  We’re pretty.  One of us is pretending to be blind.  Welcome to the CIA, bitches!”

Tonight, I checked out the pilot episode for USA’s new spy drama, Covert Affairs, on Hulu.comThe show stars Piper Perabo as 28-year old CIA newbie, Annie Walker.  Some of you out there may remember Perabo from her starring role in this  . . .

(Don’t you like how I was supposed to show you a video of Piper Perabo from Coyote Ugly; and I ended up showing you the ONE and ONLY clip in the ENTIRE movie, that featured the Hot Aussie Dude shirtless and dancing?  Yeah . . . I thought you would.)

Oh, hello again, Shirtless Adam Garcia!  Thanks for stopping by.  But I should probably go back to talking about Covert Affairs now . . .

In terms of characterization, Perabo’s Annie Walker is pretty much EXACTLY what you’d expect from a leading lady in this type of show.  She’s tough, but knows how to turn on the dainty charm, when necessary.  She was burned by an old relationship that abruptly ended, and is, therefore, perpetually single, which worries the heck out of her family and friends.  She walks and talks like a supermodel, but can throw out clever one-liners worthy of the Fat Guy in sitcoms.  She’s “brand new” at her job, but is already “the best her employers have ever seen.” 

Oh, and she prefers to track down international spies and dangerous crime lords, while clad in teeny tiny skirts and ungodly high designer heels . . . (Who doesn’t, right?)  One of her colleagues on the show puts it best when he says she “fits the male fantasy profile perfectly.”

“Does this shade of mascara clash with my gun?”

Starring alongside Perabo, as Walker’s colleage and Guy Friday a.k.a. “the funny friend she is NOT attracted to” is Christopher Gorham, who you may remember as THIS GUY  . . .

 . . . wait . . . that probably didn’t help you at all, did it?  Let’s try again.  THIS GUY . . .

That’s right, boys and girls, it’s HENRY from UGLY BETTY!

Henry . . . er . . . I mean Christopher . . .  plays Augie Doggie . . .

Oops. . .  sorry, I mean . . . Auggie Anderson, a young CIA officer who was blinded in a freak accident on the job.  He now exists solely to provide Annie Walker with unlimited support / platonic friendship / semi-witty banter, and, therefore, will never get his own storyline.  Oh, and every other sentence out of his mouth is BLIND joke.  I guess this is OK though, because he’s BLIND.  Did I mention that he’s BLIND?  BLIND. 

What’s the matter? Am I annoying you with my constant and repetitive references to the character’s non-seeing nature?  Try listening to that for AN HOUR . . .

Also starring in Covert Affairs is SANDY COHEN from The O.C.!

Yep.  That’s Peter Gallagher . . . known best for his massively furry caterpillar eyebrows, and “middle-aged dude” sexiness.  (Those of you who are a little bit older might also remember Peter as the Coma Guy that Sandra Bullock crushed on in While You Were Sleeping.)

“OMG!  Unconscious guys are SO HOT!”

Here, Gallagher changes things up a bit, by playing precisely the type of guy that Sandy Cohen would HATE. Gallagher’s CIA director, Arthur Campbell, is a total stuffed-shirt — one with the rare ability to deliver cliched, but highly emotional, lines like, “We will track him down, so help me God,” in a manner completely devoid of any human emotion whatsoever. 

Gallagher’s wife, and Annie and Auggie’s direct superior, is Joan Gallagher, played by Kari Matchett.

As is typical with these type of “newbie learns the ropes” -themed dramas, Joan comes off, at least in the pilot, as kind of a cold-hearted b&tch.  But of course, you KNOW that, eventually, assuming the show doesn’t get canceled first we will get to see her softer side.  I also presume that she will ultimately end up taking on a sort of “parental” type role in Annie’s life, despite the two looking remarkably similar in age.

Also featured in the pilot was Anne Dudek, who you might remember as the woman who played Betty Draper’s friend, and fellow Desperate Housewife, Francine, on AMC’s Mad Men.

Dudek plays Danielle Brooks, Annie’s older and well-meaning, if slightly judgmental, and totally clueless, sister, in whose poolhouse Annie inexplicably lives.

Annie’s mysteriously disappearing ex, seen mostly through flashbacks, is THIS GUY . ..

Eion Bailey.  (He’s a little hairy for my taste, but I’ll take him.  With a name like “Eion,” it has to be good!)

Rounding out the main cast, at least in terms of the pilot episode, is Eric Lively.

And if, for any reason, you are thinking that the actor looks a lot like what you imagine Serena from Gossip Girl would look like as a man, you are absolutely right . . .

Eric is Blake Lively’s older brother.  He plays a womanizing senior CIA agent, named Conrad Sheehan III.

 (By the way, why is it that every time a television character has a number after their name, to signify their “wealthy roots,” it always seems to be 3?  Can’t rich people count past that number?)

 Conrad’s entire role seems to revolve around flirting mercilessly with Annie.  He acts like he’s “important,” and, yet, never seems to do any actual CIA work.  According to Wikipedia, Eric’s character will eventually be replaced by that dude from Heroes,  Sendhil Ramamurthy . . .

 . . . although I’m not sure why.

OK, I get it now . . .

All snark and shirtlessness aside, this was actually a pretty enjoyable pilot episode.  It moved briskly, and kept my interest throughout its over an hour-long running time.  Cliched aspects of her character aside, Perabo’s Annie Walker was surprisingly likeable and interesting to watch on screen.  And for a newbie, she seemed to pull off the heavy duty action sequences required of her quite well

 (It’s really nice to know that all that dancing on the bar Perabo did during Coyote Ugly wasn’t all for naught.)

Granted, the episode was not without its shortcomings.  For starters, some of the Washington D.C. set designs were fake as hell.  For example, clearly, the show’s producers have never rode the D.C. Metro.  Here’s a hint:  It’s actually REALLY CLEAN!

In the producers defense, those who’ve ridden subways in practically any other city might never have guessed this.  But if I found this picture on Google, this multi-million dollar show ABOUT THE CIA, should have been able to find it too.  If not the cleanliness, they could have at least mimicked the D.C. Metro’s trademark waffle ceilings . . .

And, of course, the so-called plot twists in this pilot aren’t exactly “jaw dropping.”  In fact, if you are like me, you will probably pick up on all of them WAY before Annie does.  And seeing as SHE picks up on them WAY BEFORE the rest of the CIA, that really doesn’t say much about our nation’s “intelligence,” now does it?

But all that aside, Covert Affairs is an entertaining hour.  One I wouldn’t mind adding to my weekly television watching rotation . . . at least on a temporary basis.

Covert Affairs airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on the USA Network.  You can watch the trailer for the show here:

And its pilot episode, here.

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Being Erica – The Best Show You Probably AREN’T Watching (But should be . . .)

 

If you had the opportunity to go back in time and relive any moment in your past.  Where would you go?  Would you change anything about the experience, or would you simply let things remain as they always were?  If you did decide to make changes, what would those changes be?  How would those changes affect the way your life is now?

Last night marked the U.S. premiere of Season 2 of the Canadian television show Being Erica.  The show airs exclusively on Soapnet, which is why many of you have probably never heard of it.  However, for those of you who are curious, you can catch the entire first season on Hulu.com.  New episodes will air on Soapnet Wednesday, nights at 10 . . .

The show chronicles the life of Erica Strange, a woman in her early thirties, who, like most of us, leads a life that is plagued by past regrets.  When we first meet her in Season 1, Erica’s regrets have paralyzed her, hindering her ability to find love and success in her life.  Sounds depressing, right?  Wait . . . just hear me out.

It is at this point in our story that Erica meets Dr. Tom, a therapist who specializes in managing regrets.  However, Dr. Tom isn’t just your average therapist.  He has the power to send Erica back in time to face her regrets head on.  During her time travels, Erica has the unique opportunity to either change her past, or simply come to terms with it, so that she can better cope with her future. 

Each week, Erica tackles a new regret from her past, usually in relation to some problem she is facing in the present day.  Part of the fun of the show is trying to pick up on all of the past pop culture references, as you watch Erica shuttle through different stages of her life  (bad eighties hair, and cheesy early nineties music are some of the show’s main staples).  Erica is a deeply flawed, but intelligent and highly relatable character.  The actress who plays her, Erin Karpluk, does an  excellent job of illustrating a wide range of ages and experiences.  Karpluk has a sort of agelessness about her that makes her believeable whether she is playing a grad student in her early twenties or a thirty something junior editor at a publishing company.  (Although, admittedly, she looks just a bit long in the tooth for those obligatory high school flashbacks.)

One of the cool things about the show is that, as viewers, we are given the unique opportunity to watch Erica evolve and change with each passing episode.  The result is surprisingly therapeutic.  In fact, it is difficult to watch the show without pondering your own regrets and the way in which they impact your life. 

And in this economy, free psychotherapy sessions are nothing to sneeze at . . .

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