TV Review: Covert Affairs (***)

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Covert Affairs, airs Tuesdays 10/9c on USA.  Stars Piper Perabo, Christopher Gorham, Kari Matchett, and Peter Gallagher.
Fans of Alias will likely get a surface-level enjoyment out of USA's new hourlong spy comedy/action/drama, Covert Affairs.  Heavily promoted as coming from the producer of the Bourne Trilogy, the show is a swift, though empty, kick that (thankfully) lacks all of the shaky camera work of the Bourne movies.  Piper Perabo has mellowed a lot on screen (and gained some acting chops) since the days of Coyote Ugly.  She gives a likeable lead performance as Annie Walker, the young CIA trainee who's quickly promoted to field operative in order to capture her mysterious ex-boyfriend.  She's joined at the CIA by the tough-as-nails Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett), her supervisor, and veteran TV actor Christopher Gorham (recently seen in Harper's Island and Ugly Betty) as Auggie, the blind technician and confidant.
The pilot ran just over an hour, and was chock full of exciting car chases, thrilling gun fights, different personas, and a central mystery (just who is Annie's ex-boyfriend?) that could provide plenty of fodder for future episodes to come.  I like the chemistry between Annie and Auggie (Gorham is a standout) - and though we've seen the CIA stuff a million times before, there's a breezy charm to most of it.  Covert Affairs lacks the heavy mythology of Alias, which some might consider a good thing, but it also lacks the action, production values, and awesome music by Michael Giacchino.  It may not be fair to compare them, but given that Covert Affairs came second, it's only natural.  Plus, good as she is here, Perabo is no Jennifer Garner.  And the whole side story regarding Annie's home life with her sister is too reminiscent of Chuck - another show from which Covert Affairs borrows heavily.
Here's hoping the second episode isn't a sign of things to come.  Rather than build upon the story laid out in the pilot, the second episode titled "Walter's Walk" chucks that groundwork in lieu of a rote, mystery-of-the week procedural device.  Though certainly not bad, it did lack the intensity and must-see quality of the pilot.  Still, Covert Affairs has a lot of potential - not just as a mindless summer show, but as something worthy of your time come fall as well.  If it can work out the kinks and develop a distinct personality, I think it might be something worth adding to your DVR.  Right now though, it's a "catch it if you can."

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  • Why do you have a review of Covert Affairs before you have a review of Louie? Get with it.

  • In reply to jjhammerle:

    I have a couple of Louies on my DVR. Am hearing good things about it. Will get back to you with my thoughts shortly!

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