By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
The problem with the certainly stylish Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family, a new USA Network series from the pen and the production offices of Shaun Cassidy (American Gothic), isn’t so much its lack of content as its . . . content. The series -- in which an undercover federal agent, convinced it‘s the only way to protect his family from harm, engages them as his assistants -- is of that class of drama that needs to remind you that it’s based in fact in order to sell the ridiculous premise. (And so badly does it need to remind you that the reminder has been incorporated into the title.) The possibility that such a thing may have actually happened does not make it one whit more plausible -- certainly not in the form presented here. But what the series lacks in sense it makes up, partly, in craft; it‘s polished and smooth, and does not scratch going down.
In style and substance the show owes much, probably too much, to GoodFellas -- you will recognize the itinerant camera and bright, flashy images, the flamboyant, fast-talking Italian-American lead (but for knowing he’s a Fed, one might easily take him for a pure hood) -- and to The Sopranos, another Scorsese-inflected series about crime and family. But where Tony Soprano knows his shit‘s fucked up, Cover Me operates in a state of denial, refusing to admit that by any reasonable standards Dad (played with a kind of speedy, gleeful severity by Peter Dobson) is out of his mind. He’s pleased when his young son accidentally shoots him, because it means the kid isn‘t a sissy. A kind of pimp for justice, he puts the whole family on the street, posing as whoever’s necessary that week to land the big fish. Sexy mom Melora Hardin slips off her wedding ring and goes trolling for lonely old gangsters, while sexy teenage daughter Cameron Richardson (whose sexy teenage midriff and teenage cleavage are given some prominent play) and perky-cute younger daughter Antoinette Picatto chat up their kids. Son Michael Angarano -- who narrates the show, set in 1990, from the vantage of present adulthood -- just wants to make his father proud. One could make a black comedy of this, or something serious about a seriously odd duck and a family denied any normal concourse with the world -- and maybe they‘ll get around to that -- but for the moment it’s eschewed in favor of bad-guy-getting and letting love conquer all. “We knew what we were doing was right,” remembers Angarano‘s older self. “We were helping America win the war against crime.” Possibly true, definitely strange.
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