Alias-Lite (aka Covert Affairs)

Back in the day, I was a big fan of Alias. Well, to clarify, I was a big fan of Alias seasons 1-2. Then it kind of went off the rails (Vaughn NEVER would have married Lauren. Never! That was when things started to unravel.)

Anyway, Alias. I was a fan. I loved the action. I loved how Sydney Bristow was basically the best spy EVER. Seriously, she was the master of getting herself out of any insane situation. I loved the dynamic between Sydney and her father, and between Sydney and Vaughn. I loved a pre-douchebag Bradley Cooper as Will. And, most of all, I loved the mixture of escapist spy action and real, emotional heft. There was such a strong balance of these two elements, and that’s what really set Alias apart for me. There’s not anything like it on TV anymore.

Enter: Covert Affairs. I started watching the show when it premiered last summer because it looked like Alias-lite and because TV options are pretty slim in the summer. It seemed like escapist fun, and it is. The show came back from a short hiatus on Tuesday, so I thought now was as good a time as any to do a mini-review.

I think Covert Affairs does a solid job of the spy/action element that I so loved in Alias (albeit, on a noticeably trimmer budget). But, it isn’t always the strongest when it comes to the character development and emotional, heart-wrenching moments that made Alias so strong.

Here’s what I think works and what doesn’t:

What Works:

  • Auggie Anderson!: Love him, love him, love him. I don’t even feel a burning desire for an Auggie/Annie hookup, which I think most fans do. I like the character enough on his own merits, chemistry with Annie notwithstanding.
  • Eyal: Honestly? I think this is the guy for Annie. He’s only been on what? Two, three episodes? But I LOVE him every time. The actor has so much chemistry with Piper Perabo. It is always hot.
  • Annie: A strong female character, which is awesome. I also like that Annie is kind of a bumbling spy. Her missions aren’t always picture perfect, and she does her fair share of stupid things, but she always recovers (to save the day, of course).

What Doesn’t:

  • Jai: Sendil Ramamurthy is uber-hot, but there’s not much going on with his character. Seems like the show doesn’t really know how to use him.
  • Annie’s sister, Danielle: Anne Dudek = a good actress. It’s a shame that her duties on the show usually consist of handing Annie a pint of ice cream and/or looking suspicious about Annie’s whereabouts. I do like that Annie finally confessed to Danielle that she was a spy – it was getting a little too unbelievable that Danielle wouldn’t realize something was up.
  • Annie’s romance with Ben: Syd and Vaughn these two are not. I swear, if I see a flashback to them on the beach/tying stupid conch-shell bracelets on each other’s wrists one more time, I will freak out. I’ve never understood why he has such a pull on Annie; the chemistry just isn’t there. I really think he should go away on a secret mission and not come back. Ouch. That was way harsh, Tai. (and if you get that reference, we should be friends.)

Overall, for all its shortcomings, the show keeps me tuning in. It may not be the most thought-provoking television, but it’s good, escapist fun.

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