The expectation was high for the NBC television show Undercovers, but for this reviewer it failed to deliver. It was somewhat of a surprise because if J.J. Abrams name is attached to a television show, the program usually goes straight to the top of the viewing list.
Although Steven (Boris Kodjoe) and Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) Bloom were likeable enough, there was not enough set-up for this episode to make us really care about the characters. Instead, Undercovers begins with another spy, Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre) in a chase scene and then switches us to the Bloom characters at what appears to be a restaurant, but is actually their catering business. Viewers are left to wonder why they were spies before and are now the owners of a catering business instead. What was the event that made them decide to give up the spy business altogether and pursue creating gourmet food instead?
Unfortunately, there is never a suitable explanation given. Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney) shows up at the door with a case for them and without much further discussion they are back in the spy game. It is there that the characters appear to lose their way.
While there was an opportunity to take the Bloom’s in a “Hart to Hart” direction or even a lighter version of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, it never did happen. Steven half-heartedly attempts to dissuade Samantha from coming, but does not even put up much of a fight when she says she is in. The two look good together, but they just did not have the chemistry that a true spy couple really needs.
The other (oddly out-of-place) character, Bill Hoyt (Ben Schwartz) is set up as a sidekick, but he seems to know little about Samantha, while gushing on and on about Steven. Hoyt is not bumbling, but he does not seem to have it very together it for being a CIA field agent. Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham) of Covert Affairs does the sidekick routine so much better.
In the end, despite the weak pilot episode, the show was entertaining enough to give it another try. Hopefully, now that the pesky “spies coming out of retirement” situation has been dealt with, we can get to know more about the characters and actually care about them. Since J.J. Abrams is in charge, it should be interesting to find out.