Undercovers

As New TV Week continues, it hits its first major stumbling block with J.J. Abrams’s show Undercovers. CAREFUL, NEW TV WEEK! YOU NEED TO BE MORE CAREFUL! Did anyone watch this show? Let me rephrase that: did anyone who is still alive because they did not Vanilla Sky their car into the river after watching this show watch this show? Yiiiiiiiikes. It would be hyperbolic and sensational to claim that this is the Worst Show Ever Made. It’s not. But that’s certainly how it FEELS. The show centers around Mr. and Mrs. Bloom, a husband and wife who run a catering company together with the help of Mrs. Bloom’s sister. But one day there is a knock at the door from some old man who says that he knows who they are. What is that supposed to mean? Oh, it is supposed to mean that in addition to being married to each other and running a catering company together, they are also both spies. The old man “activates” them, and now they are on some case, trying to find another spy (who used to fuck Mrs. Bloom back when her Facebook status was set to “it’s complicated”) who may or may not have turned rogue and may or may not be selling American secrets to a bad guy of indeterminate accent/origin. I guess it’s a fair enough premise, although kind of boring. I love spies as much as the next person who LOVES SPIES. I saw all the Jason Bourne movies opening weekend (ladies!). When I answer the phone I don’t say “hello,” I say “GET ME BOURNE!” (That is a lie, but it is a funny lie.) But as much as I love spies I will tell you what I don’t care about: married people, catering, lazy plotlines, bad acting, awful “comedic relief”, and poorly staged fight scenes in front of lazily green-screened Paris backdrops that look like they were put together by someone at the Learning Annex. This show is like Mr. & Mrs. Smith meets Ratatouille meets Joey Tribbiani’s Acting Class meets Bruce Villanch’s garbage can. And the cliches! When they are doing things like running through a subbasement, trying to chase down the bad guys and get back the important files, but simultaneously fielding calls from the catering company about an upcoming wedding party, I just desperately hope that one of those bullets they are so cavalierly firing into the emptiness accidentally ricochets off a heating pipe and strikes me right between the fucking eyes. (Although there are a couple of good “ENHANCE!” scenes, obviously.) And at the end, when the field director tries to hire them back as CIA spies full-time, and they insist that they’ll only do it if they can keep their catering company, and then they get into a lively marital dispute that the Field Director has to interrupt because you know how once you get these two going they just won’t stop, I hope that someone hammers all of the teeth out of the mouth of my bullet riddled body and then rolls it into the ocean so that I decompose so thoroughly it will be impossible to identify me.

Can I tell you about one REALLY weird part?

In the very beginning of the episode when we think that Mr. and Mrs. Bloom are just two regular caterers (because we’re idiots?) and the Field Director shows up for the first time, he knocks at the kitchen door and Mrs. Bloom answers it. “Hi,” she says, “are you here for the Chan/Finkelstein wedding?” The Field Director looks at her and says “Do I look like a Chan? Or a Finkelestein?” UH, WHAT? WAIT, SERIOUSLY, WHAT? I think that is the weirdest line of dialogue I have ever heard on a television show, and that is NOT hyperbolic or sensational. For one thing, LOTS OF PEOPLE GO TO WEDDINGS WHO ARE NOT IN THE FAMILIES OF THE PEOPLE GETTING MARRIED? But while it seemed kind of unnecessary to point out that this old white man didn’t look Asian, the part where also made sure to suggest that it was ridiculous and offensive that someone might think he was JEWISH, well that just really did it. Two minutes into the first episode and already the fishes are eating out my eyes and crabs have made my ribcage into a reef.

So, yeah, terrible show! (Although I do like that the two main actors names are Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Those are such intense names!) Mostly I just feel really bad for J.J. Abrams, who only has millions of dollars and dozens of much more successful projects concurrently in production. He should have a cupcake, poor guy. (You can watch the first episode of Undercovers here, but don’t.)

Comments (49)
  1. Thanks Gabe, you’re the ultimate taker-one-for-the-team.

  2. Please file under, Duh Aficionado.

  3. But. . . it has Jean-Ralphio!

  4. “undercovers OR alias”

    thanks, bing. but i think the choice is pretty obvious.

  5. The promos were enough to tell me that this one would be awful. And I watched about half of The Event, it totally sucked. Absolute snoozefest, LOST retread, etc. And now tonight on NBC, instead of excellent comedy Parks & Recreation returning, we get a new super racist and all around terrible comedy about an American who gets transplanted to an Indian call center called Outsourced. Way to screw up your lineup, NBC.

    Yeah, New TV Week needs to be way more careful. This is not going well.

  6. When you watch Undercovers, your body makes a promise whether you do or not. ( Vanilla Sky jokes!)

  7. I watched the first few minutes then had to “activate” the off button. Laundry won’t do itself, folks.

  8. are there catering puns about being served and whatnot, if not that must be why this show isn’t good

  9. As a Jew, let me just say that I hate it when people assume I’m a caterer.

  10. I watched this, but pretty much only because I think Ben Schwartz is great. JEAN-RALPHIO!

  11. I think we all should just forget this show and think about how good “Alias” was. When Sydney Bristow woke up and it turns out she lost two years and Michael Vartan was MARRIED? Great.

    • spoiler alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Just kidding, I love that show.

        • I do too! I haven’t seen it in forever and I was thinking about watching it from the beginning, but I don’t think I’ll have the time. That show was also the start of my Bradley Cooper crush. WILL. TIPPIN.

          • Not to out-loser you but i actually DID start re-watching it from the beginning not that long ago. I only have season 1 on DVD, though, so we’ll reach a crux of loserness when I reach the end of season 1 and have to decide whether to purchase season 2.

            Weren’t you so befuddled when Bradley Cooper started showing up everywhere as a huge jerk? I was like, wait everyone, Will Tippin is a really nice guy! Why don’t they get it?

  12. Don’t forget yet another reason to hate this show: Sexpionage. Ugh.

  13. Did anyone watch that piece of junk they sandwiched between “The Middle” and “Modern Family?” I don’t know what it was called, but from the 2 minutes I watched, I’m willing to bet “Barfing Barf” or something like it.

  14. i haven’t seen any of the new shows this week as i’ve been to busy with real life, but it seems as though i haven’t missed a thing and i’ve saved myself a lot of disappointment. go me!

  15. Surrogates, Resident Evil Afterlife, now this show that will without a doubt be around for at the very least a decade? Kodjoe is ON FIRE!!!

  16. I don’t want to tell you how to run your tubes, Gabe, but shouldn’t this post have been published under the masthead of Duh Aficionado?

  17. This is Garbage Face’s favorite show. #cyberbullyingGarbageface.

  18. I just found out they are filming the new JJ Abrams sci-fi movie Super 8 in my ex-wifes town and that they are having production meetings at her fathers business. Is it wrong to reevaluate the relationship over this? Probably….but its impossible to know for sure.

  19. Well, at least they’ve greenlight the Terry O’Quinn/Michael Emerson comedy idea: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/09/nbc_picks_up_jj_abrams_linus_l.html?imw=Y&f=most-viewed-24h5

    • I posted about odd jobs the other day and actually got downvotes. not sure why people hate locke & ben.

      • Is this going to be an Odd Couple-style sitcom? I love the idea of them getting into little skirmishes that turn into really intense fight scenes in which Terry O’Quinn just beats Michael Emerson about the face for way longer than seems necessary.

  20. 10 bucks says at some point in the brief run of this series (dear god, let it be brief) someone runs in slow motion with a floppy disk that says “VIRUS” like in ‘The Net’ (what an awful awful movie)

  21. What happened, JJ Abrams? You used to be so good at things! Now you are kind of terrible. You make Jack sad.

    (Yes, I will use any excuse to post a Jackface.)

  22. I clicked on the comments hoping I wasn’t alone, but I actually really enjoyed it. Admittedly I was using my laptop at the same time and wasn’t paying breathless attention to every minute, but it amused me and there is no other show on TV with two black stars that isn’t a fucking terrible domestic sitcom. I certainly liked it more than The Event, which I couldn’t pay attention to for more than thirty seconds and kept fast-forwarding through waiting for the big twist.

    • That’s basically how I felt. It’s really too bad this show was so lazily executed, because you just know that its poor showing is gonna be used forevermore as an example of why two black leads = not bankable on primetime TV. Meanwhile, let’s keep giving that automaton lady from Chase more starring vehicles! Ugh times a million. Sad business.

  23. “Gabe Delahaye doesn’t care about married people.” -Kanye West

  24. huh. i had to watch it for work last night (my life is hard) and i didn’t think it was THAT bad. maybe since it was at work my perspective was skewed because of my gratefulness that i wasn’t watching The Rachel Zoe Project or Top Chef: Just Desserts or Two and a Half Men, and i certainly didn’t find this to be GREAT, but it wasn’t abysmal. i didn’t once fantasize about my ribs turning into a coral reef! i even thought some (SOME) of ben schwartz’s comic relief was pretty funny, does that make me dumb? and i was into the fast-paced dialogue that was sometimes joke delivery in disguise (but NOT the kind of jokes like i just saw in an episode of 21 jump street: kid lies dead in his car in a school parking lot. cops: ‘i guess he’s gonna be late to class’. not that kind of jokes!)…and i did also like that the two leads were black but it was not a racial-centric show, like on paper they could have been any race at all. also i guess the guy who played the agent they were out to save (‘leo’) graduated from my college? that’s nice? anyway it’s not my new favorite show, and it certainly was riddled with cliches and lazy stitching-together of plot, but i somehow still didn’t think it was the worst thing ever.

  25. That was a SHOW? I thought it was an Old Spice commercial.

  26. can we talk about how shitty detroit 1-8-7 is or did that happen already while i was sleeping [right after watching the pilot, cause it put me to sleep (zing!)]?

  27. I would watch this show if they introduced Paul F. Tompkins in a role as their superior spy officer g-man guy they get missions from, he was called The Cake Boss, and he would give them missions as his Cake Boss impression he does on Comedy Death Ray Radio and at his live shows. HE’S THE BOSS OF CAKES!

  28. My newest favorite Gabe-ism is “…and crabs have made my ribcage into a reef.” Kahdooz, sir. Kahdooz.

  29. I really do love Ben Schwartz though. I want this to succeed simply because it gives him a mainstream outlet. His WebVidz have been hilarious, especially Jake and Amir, and even though I have no interest in athletics (no sportso) he’s really funny in those ESPN shorts.

  30. Not to throw myself under the bus (but I will), but isn’t J.J. Abrams kinda the worst? Sorry guys, but Alias? mildly enjoyable. Lost? Utter garbage after the first 2 seasons. CLOVERFIELD?!?! Don’t even get me started. My point is, to me, this guy is kinda the M. Night Princess Amadala of TV (that may be being a bit harsh). Some genuinely cool ideas that never really amount to much, or are ruined by the lamest plot twists ever. I mean, COME ON, this guy gets regaled with Joss Whedon type accolades for doing Joel Schumacher type work. Am I wrong?

  31. I had to sign up for Videogram because finally someone who admits that this show is massive suckitude. My friends tried to tell me that this show is great and witty. That the leads are so hot, how could I not watch. That I should be supportive of a show with two AA in the lead roles, but I say the show is major boring. So much of a snooze fest that I fell asleep during the show and had to watch it on demand to see the end. I enjoyed it on demand because I could fast forward through much of the crap. I hated the fake looking globe trotting because there is nothing like bad green screen to make me want to watch a show. I think the only JJ Abrams show that I’ve watched somewhat consistently, well the first season at least, was Alias.

  32. Holy shit. I might have read what you typed, but for fuck’s sake… Have you ever heard of this little thing called a “paragraph”? Fuckin’ A.

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