Let’s get one thing straight: this review is unfair. It’s unfair because my first impressions influenced my opinions, and it’s unfair because I’m going to compare Undercovers to other TV shows. Really, Undercovers had a fine pilot episode in and of itself, but when placed in a wider context against other TV shows, Undercovers just isn’t very good.

My first impressions of the show were negative. Undercovers opened with a poorly-directed, disorienting action sequence. From that moment on, the show had to work to convince me that my first impressions weren’t true. By the end of the hour, the show had succeeded, but I might have liked the episode more overall if it had started stronger.

First impressions aside, the other reason that it was impossible for me to judge Undercovers impartially is that I was always comparing it to other shows in the back of my head. Now, let’s get one thing straight: Undercovers isn’t Chuck with black people. It feels considerably more like Burn Notice (which is a show that I don’t like). That being said, Chuck and Burn Notice are the best baselines to which Undercovers can be compared. Undercovers has action, but it’s not as slick as it is on Burn Notice and not as fun as it is on Chuck. Undercovers has comedy, but the show isn’t as funny as Burn Notice or Chuck. Undercovers has drama, but Chuck digs deeper and pushes its characters more. (One of my major criticisms of Burn Notice is that the drama feels fake and unearned, so Undercovers beats it in that regard.) Undercovers has romance, but the show can’t do sexual tension like Burn Notice, and while Chuck and Sarah aren’t TV’s greatest couple, they outclass Steven and Samantha by miles. (Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw don’t have much chemistry together.) By that standard, it would seem that Undercovers isn’t worth watching. (Then again, I hung onto Burn Notice long after it was no longer worth watching.)

However, Undercovers works well as a total package. The combination of all its elements made the pilot episode fun to watch. I’m in for at least another week, if not a few more. I can’t say that I’m hooked yet, but I think that the show has potential, especially if it explores the reasons behind the Blooms’ reactivation. Going forward, I have a couple of concerns. Firstly, Steven and Samantha don’t have personalities. Right now, they’re just a married couple who wanted to put the spark back into their relationship. I need to know who Steven and Samantha are as individuals. Secondly, the supporting cast is just annoying. Bill, Lizzie, Leo, and Shaw don’t add much to the show. Either they should be relegated to bit parts, or the more grating parts of their characters should be toned down.

Undercovers has the potential to morph into a great show. However, in its current form, it’s lacking that special something that compels me to watch more. The pilot episode was okay. Here’s hoping that things get better.

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