Home run! What a pleasant and unexpected surprise.
Steven and Samantha Bloom are the center of the series, and we all know that happily married couples are boring. I can see where the writers thought very carefully about how to make the Blooms' relationship exciting and romantic. They were both spies five years ago, but they never worked together; when they fell in love and got married, they left the agency but kept a solemn promise never to discuss their careers -- ever. Meaning that, as far as the spy game goes, they are a complete mystery to each other.
In this pilot, Steven and Samantha were lured back into the life and carried out their very first mission as a team. They worked in tandem professionally and like they'd been partners forever, but they kept learning new things about each other in a most delightful way. Samantha Bloom (played by the interestingly named Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is clever, charming, kick-ass, and seriously world-class gorgeous. Steven Bloom (Boris Kodjoe) is a fairly good match for her, although I wasn't as crazy about him as I was about her (maybe I didn't like his weird facial hair). They click well as a couple. It's not easy to do snappy, spicy, romantic banter this good.
Can the Blooms' marriage survive the spy life while they run a catering business at the same time? Will it create obstacles in their marriage? Will they learn things about each other that they just can't handle? Is the Pope Catholic? You know what? I'm actually interested in finding out. (About the Blooms, not the Pope.)
The supporting characters really shone, too. The talented Gerald McRaney made Shaw, the stereotypical gruff and acerbic boss, seem like a whole new character. Leo Nash (Carter MacIntyre) was so instantly lovable that when he was captured, I truly didn't want him to get hurt. And Hoyt (Ben Schwartz), with his inappropriate and overwrought case of hero worship on Steven, made me laugh over and over again.
Yes, there was a lot of Alias and a good bit of Mission Impossible, but that's not a bad thing. I liked the place cards taking us to faraway places, even though they were almost certainly all Los Angeles. (Except I've actually been on that street in Paris, and it looked damned convincing.) Dan laughed out loud when the series credits were shown fifteen minutes into the episode, because that was something they often did on Alias.
And there was a rocket launcher. Because, to paraphrase Joss Whedon, you have to have a rocket launcher.
I confess that I watched the premiere of Undercovers only out of a sense of obligation to J.J. Abrams. But this one could very well be a winner -- Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but a whole lot better. If they can keep up the quality of this pilot and take our spy couple in new and interesting directions, this show is going to be a hit.
[Note from later: My final verdict on Undercovers is here.]
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.