By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
UC: Undercover, which follows an elite team of Justice Department crime fighters, presents that bad combination of taking itself very seriously while being at the same time neither believable nor, you know, good. Like Homicide: Life on the Street, whose Jon Seda stars here, it wants to get under the skin of its essentially screwed-up crew, to paint the stress of a life of deception, though not all the wack emotional icing in the world can disguise the fact that this is just Mission: Impossible with the fun removed. As Martin Landau was with lovely Barbara Bain, Seda is paired with lovely Vera Farmiga -- each is a Master of Disguise! (A wig here, a gold tooth there . . . ) Oded Fehr is the Peter Graves steely-leader character; gadget-making Jarrad Paul takes the Greg Morris “electronics expert” part; and psychological profiler Bruklin Harris is what we get instead of strongman Peter Lupus, and you can call that progress.
Thieves presents Full House veteran John Stamos and Melissa George as good-looking, forever-bantering, quirky, charming, independent, opposites-attract criminals working, in a kind of heavy-duty community service arrangement, for something called the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Return of Stolen and Missing Government Property -- they steal back stolen government property. (You may recall a little show called It Takes a Thief that rested upon a like foundation.) It’s a romantic comedy, essentially, with plenty of well-staged action (for which the banter does not stop) of the funny-scary variety, and good attention paid to secondary characters and those just passing through. I could do with a third fewer sex jokes -- that will still leave plenty, believe me -- but I could watch this anytime and be absolutely happy.
Alias is potentially the best of these shows, not because it‘s in any sense deep, or even particularly plausible -- it’s closer in spirit to The X-Files than it is to The Agency -- but because it so effectively sets a mood, keeps you guessing about its characters, and makes you care about them a little, and because broad-shouldered, long-legged star Jennifer Garner is really really good at those spinning kicks that are this era‘s karate chop. (Women are the only ones who can get away with kicking ass anymore -- in Thieves, it’s Melissa George who‘s the tough one.) Garner leads a triple life as a grad student, a globe-trotting agent for the supersecret SD-6, and a double agent for the CIA reporting on the supersecret SD-6, which she had until the beginning of this series assumed was the CIA, but are not. They are bad. The CIA is good. She’s a little confused, naturally, and so am I, but frankly, as with The X-Files, it helps to be slightly confused: It‘s atmosphere and action you want from a show like this, not explanations; explanations just lead to endings. Creator J.J. Abrams also created Felicity, and when not busy saving the world, Garner leads a Felicity life among other handsome young people, including torch-carrying nosy journalist Bradley Cooper. One also awaits some sort of frisson with CIA pal Michael Vartan, who played Lancelot in The Mists of Avalon -- they’re not going to let that meat go to waste. It‘s Ben and Noah all over again, but with an occasional atom bomb for Garner to defuse. God help her getting her thesis done anytime soon.
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