Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My current guilty pleasure

… is COVERT AFFAIRS. And I admit I watch it for all the wrong reasons. I like seeing Piper Perabo running in high heels shooting people. This is hardly a reason to recommend a show to people. Especially in this era of extraordinary television drama. When you only have so much time and it seems every other day a friend is alerting you to an amazing drama you’ve never heard of (“Have you you checked out LUTHER?” “Have you gotten into ORPHAN BLACK?”) it’s tough to say, “There’s this show with a hot blonde who drives fast that you really have to see!”

But I watch it every week. I still haven’t gotten around to LUTHER.

Another plus for COVERT AFFAIRS is that they actually go to foreign locations. So Piper is running in Stockholm not the Paramount backlot. You get the theme here? COVERT AFFAIRS is a total visual experience.

It's also TOP GUN for middle-aged men, if you know what I mean.

The other actors do their best to believe they’re in a series where the stories really matter. Christopher Gorham, in particular, plays her blind handler/former lover with just the right amount of conviction and perspective. Sometimes they have him out in the field and those episodes are ridiculous. How bad are these terrorists when a blind man is beating the shit out of them, or worse, chasing them?

There is a subplot that continues throughout the series – the inner politics of the CIA. Fast forward through these. It’s all gobbledygook about who runs DSIT and who runs DSST – people are forever getting promoted and demoted from divisions with letters – and none of it means anything. Kate Machett always seems to be in the middle of these storylines and here’s the best way I can describe her character: She never wears a dress with sleeves.

COVERT AFFAIRS is a familiar format. Female James Bond. In the ‘60s they did it as THE GIRL FROM UNCLE , more recently as ALIAS. Hot bad ass girl thwarts evil organizations and super villains who’ve created Doomsday machines or have plans to fluoridate our water. And they’re usually home for dinner.
Today’s mayhem has been updated to include terrorists, drug cartels, and Eurotrash. There are plot holes (assuming you can even follow the plot) that you can drive aircraft carriers through, but if you’re paying attention to that then you’re watching for the wrong reason. Piper knows Karate moves. Piper swims. Piper looks great in a sleek red dress at some Romanian State Dinner.

The show takes itself very seriously, which makes it that much more fun when Piper overpowers seven thugs who are all as big as the Michelin Man.

This year they’re giving her some heart ailment, I suspect in an attempt to humanize her. So now she’s got to act in addition to wearing tight black leather pants? And so far she’s handled it quite well. In none of her “acting” scenes have they had to go to a double.

I poke fun, but Piper Perabo is very likable and watchable in a very physically demanding role. Action heroes require a unique set of skills. Agility, credibility, stamina, and cool. I remember the old WONDER WOMAN series with Lynda Carter, God bless her – she’d put on that costume and become the world’s sexiest Clydesdale. Piper pulls it off.

So I’m a regular viewer of COVERT AFFAIRS. I’ll never impress anybody by saying I watch it. I’d never include it in the list of great dramas from this Golden Era. But so what? I also watch distinguished Emmy-worthy shows. In fact, just this week MASTERS OF SEX returns with Lizzie Caplan. If only she could shoot a gun.

23 comments:

Stephanie said...

You watch Covert Affairs for the same reason I watch Castle. Most of the time it's just fun, escapist entertainment and that's what you need after a hard day. Nothing wrong with that.

McAlvie said...

There's a place for tv shows that are just plain entertaining, and I do think Cover Affairs fits that niche nicely. It's gotten a little bit better, as now Annie has had actual training. Now when she survives the bad guys it's not just dumb luck. You are correct, Ken, that it will never make for high drama, but it's pretty good escape tv.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Sounds like you miss that 80s show that had Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter as "detectives", running in high heels, shooting bad guys and letting it jiggle (can't remember the title).

Anonymous said...

If you like Piper Perabo in Covert Affairs, you should see her in Looper.

Roger M said...

I too like Covert Affairs. When it came out, I was giving every new USA Network show a shot. (not the case now).

Another factor that drew me in is Christopher Gorham played Jake Foley in Jake 2.0 another show I really loved.

Igor said...

Dear Dear Leader Levine, could you please help bring peace and prosperity to Earth... first, by bringing an end to the expression, "There are plot holes that you can drive ___________ through"?

Thank you, Dear Leader.

darms said...

I dunno, the few times I've watched "Covert Affairs" I've found the writing to be either obvious & eminently 'guessable' or flat out unbelievable (no semblance of reality). Each to their own however & if you think its worth a look I'll look again as I trust your judgement - darms

Jasmine Bleeth said...

Your 'review' of COVERT AFFAIRS reminds me of Chandler's assessment of BAYWATCH -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHCvbLxkK_Q

nonchalantsavant said...

Scooter, I believe the name of that detective show was "Letting It Jiggle."

And if it wasn't, someone will develop a reality show with the same name soon.

Andy Travis said...

Loni & Lynda were Partners in Crime.

Beau Weaver said...

We Binged out LUTHER in a couple of days. It's worth it. It's a drama, but has some fun little twists into comedic tone, without going over the top. Very LONDONy.....so not exactly like police procedurals in the states. Loved it. - Beau

Michael said...

One of the defining traits of the show is that every male, good or evil, falls in love with Piper's character. So you are not alone in your admiration.

Rockgolf said...

@Scooter Schechtman: if the Lynda Carter/Loni Anderson cop show wasn't titled "This is a Bust!" they wasted an opportunity.

Thomas Mossman said...

This post perfectly describes why I like watching old episodes of The Avengers.

kevin said...

Your blog is a joy to read. Thanks.

Hank Gillette said...

I watched Covert Affairs for two or three seasons and then realized that I didn’t like it all that much (I especially didn’t like them having the CIA operate in the United States, which is supposed to be illegal) because the stories didn’t make all that much sense and further, unlike most red-blooded American males I don’t even find Piper Perabo to be very attractive. Other than that, it was great.

Paul Duca said...

Rockgolf...or "Is This Some Kind of Bust?"

Anonymous said...

Some days, you want a fat juicy steak with all the fixings. Other days you just want McDonalds. COVERT AFFAIRS and NCIS are the McDonalds of TV. Unfortunately, most Americans want McDonalds every single day. And that's why there are so many low quality shows out there.

heatherlocklearsays said...

Scooter Schechtman, nonchalantsavant, Paul Duca, Rockgolf...

Don't know the show you're talking about but how's this for a title? "Busted!"

Chris said...

I don't know if you were kidding about "Luther," but every year when it arrives with my Emmy stuff, I swear I'm going to watch it and never do. I didn't feel guilty about it when I got it this year because I had walked out of a screening of "Mandela'" starring the same guy. I was bored out of my skull and completely missed any of the iridescent quality of his acting that I had heard so much about. He has disciples, not fans.

Bryan said...

My guilty pleasure is Falling Skies. Wow, it's such a relief just finally saying that. I think it works as a perfect allegorical nuanced narrative on post... HOLY SHIT THAT ALIEN HAS SIX LEGS!

17db87ec-8cdb-11e3-9c7e-000bcdcb2996 said...

Ahhh, you gave me an excuse to remember "Harper's Island". Thank you!

Charles H. Bryan said...

Even Netflix recommends this to me, base on my interest in Alias. Oh, Netflix, you know me so well.

I'm not sure that there are any guilty pleasures left amongst scripted dramas. They all have a basic level of craft that is, at least, good. I don't know that many genuinely crap scripted dramas even make it to air on any channel people actually watch. Except HAWAII FIVE-O, maybe.

Now, BIG BROTHER? I'd understand the guilt. Seriously, I don't know why people watch that show when so many faster suicide methods are available.