'Undercovers': The spy game without commitment issues

undercovers-nbc-project-pilot.jpgWith very little to go on at Upfronts, we believed "Undercovers" could be NBC's saving grace. It definitely has everything one would expect of a hit. The man behind "Alias" and "Lost," J.J. Abrams, co-wrote, produced, and directed the pilot. The leads are definite eye candy. And the spy tableau is a big success for the network with "Chuck." Can "Undercovers" live up to the hype?

Disclaimer: These posts are not reviews -- shows often make tweaks to their pilot episodes between filming in the spring and their fall debuts. Full reviews will come closer to the premiere date.

What it is: Former spies, Steven and Samantha Bloom (played by "Soul Food's" Boris Kodjoe and "Doctor Who's" Gugu Mbatha-Raw), meet, fall in love, and leave the CIA to lead normal lives as caterers. After five years, the CIA represented by the awesome Gerald McRaney ("Deadwood," "Jericho," um, "Major Dad") approaches them with a special mission. And then the fun begins.

Who's making it: As we mentioned above, Abrams has his hands all up in this cookie jar, which we're all about. He's joined, though, by executive producers who we also have great affinity for - Josh Reims ("Brothers & Sisters," "Dirty Sexy Money," "Felicity") and Bryan Burk, who worked with Abrams on "Lost," "Alias" and the film, "Cloverfield."

What pops: It's refreshing to watch a spy thriller where the leads are hot for each other and can admit it. While in "Alias" and "Chuck," we're constantly following the off-again-on-again romance between the leads, "Undercovers" cuts to the chase and just starts with them married. So, it's fun to watch how the intricacies of their spy jobs toy with their relationship with none of the, "Is she? Will he?" romantic questions.

What doesn't: It suffers from the typical expository beginning most pilots do. And the pace gets a bit sleepy until you reach a bit past halfway into the episode and then it lives up to the promise of a spy thriller. A recent cast change replaces Samantha's sister who was nicely portrayed by Jessica Parker Kennedy in the pilot to Mekia Fox, who most recently appeared on "90210." We didn't enjoy her in the role as Dixon's older, crazy girlfriend, so we're a bit thrown off by the recasting. It's a minor role, we know, but Parker Kennedy played the role infectiously.

Reminiscent of: "Alias," or a blast from the past, "Hart to Hart"



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Photo / Video credit: NBC