Monday, May 27, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Covert Affairs - Season 2

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Annie, Auggie, and the story of the week
Cons: Weak characters make on-going stories less compelling
The Bottom Line:
Weekly stories?  Good
But weak characters make rest
Feel average

"You're in a Public Relations Battle and I'm the Feel Good Hit of the Summer."

If it weren’t for the USA Network, I wouldn’t have nearly as much TV to watch.  (I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)  While I love most of their shows, not every one is a winner.  Once such show is Covert Affairs.  The just finished season two was certainly entertaining, although it wasn’t grab you exciting.

The show revolves around Annie Walker (Piper Perabo), a new agent at the CIA.  She’s beginning to get the hang of life as a spy, trying to balance that with her sister Danielle (Anne Dudek) who doesn’t know what she does.  But the show really focuses on work, where Annie reports to Joan (Kari Matchett) whose husband Arthur (Peter Gallagher) is a director in the CIA.  Her co-worker Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is very focused on climbing the ranks, while Auggie (Christopher Gormen) is content to stay in support but only because his blindness keeps them from going back out in the field.

The budget must have really been increased for this season because the show finds Annie traveling to more exotic locations, and some of these episodes were filmed on location.  She is sent to Paris to cultivate a new asset and flies to Berlin to help Peter with a former asset who happens to be his former girlfriend.  Closer  to home, Annie goes back to training to find out who is leaking new recruit’s names and starts surveillance on two brothers who might be part of a terrorist plot against the Spanish government.

Over the course of the season, Auggie gets a promotion and meets again the man responsible for his blindness, Jai learns the identity of the CIA’s leak to the media and gets a promotion, and Danielle gets closer to learning what Annie really does.

Like manyUSANetwork shows, each episodes features a plot of the week as well as a few ongoing storylines.  On most of the shows, I get hooked on those stories and find the episodes of the week engrossing.  Here, I find the episode of the week diverting and the ongoing stories interesting but not must watch compelling.

So by now you’re probably wondering why I keep watching the show.  Here’s the reason.  I enjoy the show when it’s on.  It's just that I don’t find myself thinking about it between episodes.  It’s pleasant and fun but not absolutely must watch.

I think part of that is the fact that many of the characters are weak.  Joan and Peter especially have never been very well developed.  Don’t get me started on Danielle, who is stuck with the thankless sub-plots that are just intended to flesh out Annie’s character.  Jai fairs a little better, but even he is pretty flat.  The weaker characters make it harder to care about on going stories.

Thankfully, Annie and Auggie are very well developed and interesting characters.  Maybe that’s why I’m fully invested in seeing these two come together eventually.  They have a great relationship and what appears to be a genuine friendship.

Now I’m not going to fault any of the actors for the lack of character development.  When they are given something meaty to do, they tackle it with gusto and really make us believe the moments.  I find the entire cast believable every week, which is another reason I keep watching.

The show is a bit more story driven than character driven.  I always find the story of the week interesting.  Annie may not always make the best choices, but she is resourceful enough to get out of any danger she gets herself into.  They may not be edge of your seat, but they are compelling enough to keep me coming back.  Between the story of the week and Annie and Auggie, I definitely do enjoy the show while it's airing.

Season two consisted of sixteen episodes, and they are collected here on four DVD's in widescreen and full surround.  The set includes deleted and alternative scenes plus a gag reel.  There's also a featurette on filming the episodes that were filmed on location.

While not my favorite show on the USA Network, Covert Affairs is still fun and worth watching.  Season two held my interest, and I plan to continue when season three starts in a few weeks.

Season Two Episodes:
1. Begin the Begin
2. Good Advices
3. Bang and Blame
4. All the Right Friends
5. Around the Sun
6. The Outsiders
7. Half a World Away
8. Welcome to the Occupation
9. Sad Professor
10. World Leader Pretend
11. The Wake-Up Bomb
12. Uberlin
13. A Girl Like You
14. Horse to Water
15. What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
16. Letter Never Sent

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