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Series / Undercovers

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Undercovers is a lighthearted espionage drama from J. J. Abrams and co-creator Josh Reims. It averted the Noughties Drama Series formula of Abrams shows like Alias, Lost and increasingly Fringe, concentrating on self-contained episodes.

Steven and Samantha Bloom are a married couple operating a catering business in Los Angeles. They are also once-formidable agents with the Central Intelligence Agency. Through assistant director Carlton Shaw, they are re-enlisted to rescue—or capture—missing agent Leo Nash.

The show was canceled midway through its first season.


Undercovers provides examples of the following:

  • Action Girl
  • Amoral Counterparts: In "Not Without My Daughter" Steven and Samantha run into a married couple of spies from the DSGE who are willing to hold a defecting North Korean physicist's daughter as collateral to secure an important piece of tech (and would have killed father and daughter both, as well, had they gotten what they wanted).
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Samantha's sister Lizzy who works at their catering company.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Hoyt.
  • Battle Couple
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Leo Nash, at least according to Steven's description.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Samantha frequently pretends to be English, using Mbatha-Raw's real accent.
  • But Not Too Black: The two leads are both mixed race and have very fair complexions.
  • Chase Scene: Samantha decides to avoid drawing this out. Her car-stopper tool of choice? A rocket launcher.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Director Shaw, who turns abusing sarcasm into an art form.
    • Leo, especially when teasing Steven about his past relationship with Samantha.
  • Fanservice: This is an equal opportunity show; case in point, "Instructions" features a scene where Sam, Leo and Steven all strip down to change to blend in at a conference.
  • Good People Have Good Sexpionage
  • Happily Married
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Setting changes are announced by postcards come to life, complete with a modern Regional Riff.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Samantha was recruited while at Yale. Truth in Television, the CIA and other organizations tend to look for intelligent, highly-motivated recruits and Yale specifically has a long association with the agency.
  • Magical Computer
    • Played straight and somewhat averted in the pilot. The leads recruit the services of a cryptographer to help decrypt computer files. He notes this will take at least six hours to do so. However, he also notes that he can find the computer the files were transferred from simply because he has the files and is able to do so right away. An analogy would be like copying a paragraph from a book to a sheet of paper and someone being able to tell you the specific copy as well as where that particular book is right now.
    • "Devices" has the team lift fingerprints off a untreated glass using a cellphone with high enough resolution to get a single positive match.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Hoyt. At first you thing that Hoyt was just a techie, but he showed that he had game!
  • Mr. Fanservice: Unavoidable when your male lead is Boris Kodjoe.
  • Recycled INSPACE: The show has been described as Hart to Hart (or Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)) WITH A BLACK COUPLE!
  • The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: Though episodes were still airing after the cancellation was announced NBC has held back on airing the season/series finale in the US. Instead, they were aired in Australia over a year later. US viewers were out of luck until the entire season finally came out on some streaming platforms.
  • Running Gag:
    • Every episode has an ongoing fight between the Blooms, ranging from Samantha's "sexpionage" to Steven not-reading the directions for an espresso machine to reliance on technology.
    • Shaw extremely reluctantly sending the Blooms on missions and hating the way they finish each other's sentences.
  • Spy Fiction: Martini flavored.
  • Stock Scream: Used in the pilot.
  • Television Geography:
    • In "Not Without My Daughter", there's no way the first scene takes place in North Korea - it's too well-lit. North Korea at night is a big black empty space above South Korea, not to mention that in Pyongyang, there is a mandatory lighting reduction after 9 pm at night.
    • Anybody who has been to Madrid once could write a long list of things that are plain wrong with the pilot, but those 1970s-looking posters advertising The World Cup with grammar mistakes and a chubby guy in a three-piece suit sporting a mustache straight from The Edwardian Era note  deserve an award. And just as we thought soccer was making inroads in the United States...
  • Tempting Fate: The minefield scene.
    Russian: I assure you, This is safe procedure. Follow me. *BOOM!*
    Steven: We're gonna follow the dry creekbed.
    Samantha: I'm not so sure that's such a good idea, honey.
    Steven: Why not? Any mine would've rusted through by now.
    (*Samantha tosses a rock. BOOM!*)
    Samantha: Actually, the Russians switched to plastic mines in 2001.