Saturday, August 7, 2010

Covert Horse

My latest guilty-pleasure TV show is Covert Affairs, on USA Network. It's like the defunct, geek-appeal series Numbers, without the math. Only this time, the clueless brother is in the field while the smarter brother is behind the scenes at headquarters. Only they're not brothers at all; rather, the field agent is a sexy, newly trained gal-agent recruit who can drive like Mario Andretti, throw an elbow like Gordie Howe, and hold a bewildered but meaningful facial expression for an extra beat whenever she processes new information like Judge Amy on Judging Amy; and the smart guy is a blind techie ops guy who gets her out of two types of trouble every three minutes, between commercials. And they're all in the CIA, not the FBI. Except that Charlie, the smarter brother in Numbers, was never actually in the FBI; he was a math professor who consulted for the FBI. And his colleague was an astronaut. And his father was Judd Hirsch, who used to be the guy in Taxi and Ordinary People; only this time the mentor is not Judd Hirsch but an ice-blond covert ops lady boss who is married to her boss, a politically connected CIA Deputy Director who is leaking information to a pretty reporter, whom the blind guy is sleeping with, while he deputy-directs a thorough shakedown of his division to stem the leak; which is why the blind guy can never answer the phone when Judge Amy needs him.

Perhaps I should have started by comparing the series to Bonanza.

Anyway, the horse comes through the wall in Covert Affairs at least twice per action sequence, which, while putting it on a par with Leverage, the statistical leader in the Implausible Moments category, is of little consequence in the realm of guilty-pleasure viewing. Piper Perabo is no Gina Bellman or Leslie Ann Warren; then again, Gina merely bowls you over with her classic beauty and Pan-European accent, assumes stock-character identities, and arranges helicopter pick-ups, whereas Piper as Annie Walker has to keep the very identity of her employer secret from her Georgetown Hausfrau sister, Amber from House, with whom she lives, only Amber isn't Amber in this series and hasn't appeared as anyone's spooky ambulatory hallucination as if she were one of John Nash's imaginary friends helping him develop the mathematics of Game Theory -- which Charlie, the smarter brother, calls upon weekly to illustrate a plot point in Numbers -- in A Beautiful Mind. At least, she hasn't yet.

Will she? Will the Deputy Director blame the leak on the blind guy, kick him to the curb, and start fooling around with the reporter himself? Will Annie Walker find love while successfully ingratiating herself with her Ice Queen boss -- who also appears in Leverage as Nate Ford's ex-wife who bailed Nate out of trouble while Gina Bellman was off having her baby, despite her lack of covert ops training and not being blind? Will Amber from House turn out to be a fellow CIA agent whose own ambulatory hallucinations involve Judd Hirsch? Most crucially, is Leslie Ann Warren -- who also played Juanita in Baja Oklahoma and Cinderella in Cinderella (A Very, Very Special Television Event), and whose star-turn in Mission Impossible set the bar for future spy-gals very, very high -- still smokin' hot?

The answers to these questions, and many more, are only a DVR box away.

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