Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spy Games


Tonight the USA Network brought us the season three finale of Covert Affairs, so it seems like a good time to devote a Tube Day Tuesday entry to giving you a few of the reasons why I like it.


                                                                               Image credit:

If you’re not familiar with the program, it’s a spy show.  It stars Piper Perabo as Annie Walker, newly minted CIA agent.  In fact, she’s so new that in the pilot episode, they pull her out of training to send her on a mission.  Once she arrives at Langley, she meets her new best friend, Auggie Anderson, played by Christopher Gorham.  Auggie’s there to show her around and help her get settled, and there’s some irony right off the bat, as Auggie is a blind man. 

So that’s the basic setup: rookie operative with innate talents learning the ropes at the CIA, with the blind guy serving as her lifeline.  I think it’s a good thing the USA network is so good at picking out winning shows, because on the surface, this one doesn’t sound like it would work.  But it does.

So, without further ado, here is my Covert Affairs top 5 reasons to watch:

  1. The opening credits.  I know I mentioned once before how much I enjoy a good theme song, and I do like the actual song on this show, but it’s more the overall feel of the entire sequence that really works in this case.  (This isn’t the current version, but the look is fairly similar.) 

  2. The locations.  Though the story is based in Washington, DC, the show films primarily in Canada.  But like any good spy, Annie does a lot of globetrotting, and we get to go along for the ride.  Early in the series, we mostly just got some establishing shots of scenery (and sometimes not even that), but as the show’s success grew, it seems the travel budget did, too.  More and more we got to see large portions of episodes filmed on location, which is nice.  Since there are a lot of places I’ll likely never visit myself, I might as well live vicariously through the on-screen CIA.
  3. The intrigue.  It’s fun watching the characters dance around, never quite knowing who to trust or what’s going to happen next.  Though sometimes I ponder outside the television world for a moment, and I think it’s probably really like that for actual spies, and I think what a horrible way that would be to live.
  4. Flirtations and hidden feelings.  Annie started out with a crush on Auggie, even though she was still sort of hung up on Ben (who she didn’t even know was a spy when she fell in love with him); she dated a doctor for a while, but that didn’t work out; then Jai came along, and he seemed to be interested in Annie; Annie had some harmless flirtations with Eyal, and some that were not so harmless with Simon, never noticing that somewhere along the way, Auggie had developed his own crush on her.  And in the background, Auggie fell in love, got engaged, and got dumped, Annie’s sister had some marital problems, got separated, and ultimately moved across the country to try and make things work with her husband, and Annie’s two bosses, Joan and Arthur, are a couple who can’t quite seem to decide if they’re happily married, or just married.  Really, it’s sort of like high school, but it’s fun.
  5. Auggie Anderson.  While Annie is definitely the main character, it’s Auggie that tends to keep things grounded—and interesting.  It’s not just that he’s a cutie pie—though that certainly doesn’t hurt—it’s just that he’s a fascinating character.  Ex Special Forces, Auggie was blinded during a mission in Iraq, but he’s managed to overcome that limitation and become a go-to guy for all sorts of people, both in the Agency and out.  He’s intelligent, droll, charming, mildly self-deprecating, and intensely loyal.  Annie couldn’t have asked for a better guide to help her navigate her new world.

So, there you have it, some of my favorite reasons to watch Covert Affairs.  Someone said to me just recently that they had watched it early on, thinking it would be like Alias, and they were disappointed when it was not.  So, yeah, let me be clear: this is not Alias.  And that’s a good thing.  Don’t get me wrong; I liked that show, too, but it tried to do too much and lost its way.  By the time it went off the air, Alias had become convoluted and not fun anymore.  After three years, Covert Affairs isn’t showing any signs of letting up on the fun.

TV Tuesday 9-19-12
                                                                                                               Image credit:  digitalart/