I think there must be a picture of Piper Perabo mouldering away in an attic somewhere, as she doesn’t look any older now than she did back in 2000 when she starred in Coyote Ugly. The 35-year-old make a perky and entertaining presence at the heart of the Doug Liman produced TV show, Covert Affairs.
She plays Annie Walker, who’s coming to the end of her training to work for the CIA when she’s called into international intelligence agency’s headquarters for a job that can use her language skills (and the fact she could plausibly pass as a hooker!). That’s just the start of her adventures, which take her around the world as she works to prevent the US’ overseas enemies from going through with their nefarious plans, as well as getting caught up in the murky morality of the world of spies she’s gotten herself into.
Backing her up is tech genius Auggie (Christopher Gorham), who has his own demons, as he used to be a field operative until he was blinded while in Afghanistan. There’s also Annie’s sister, Danielle (Anne Dudek), who’s living a far more normal family life than her sister, but must be kept in the dark about Annie’s CIA job.
I’m kind of hoping the real CIA isn’t like it is in Covert Affairs, because if it is we’re all screwed, but it makes for a fun series. With 11 episodes of ass-kicking action and covert plots, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that this version of the CIA likes making life as difficult as possible for itself, constantly takes gargantuan risks and seems okay with the fact none of the agents seems all that interested in protocol. It reminded me of the secret agency in Alias, although not quite as divorced from reality as SD-6 in JJ Abrams’ show. However they share a sense of heightened reality, where a couple of agents can leave the office on a Monday, get into lots of fights and shoot-outs and have saved the world by teatime on Tuesday, all ready to go home and lie their family about what they’ve been up to.
It would all seem incredibly stupid if the show didn’t do such a good job of creating empathetic characters. Everyone is an individual, with their own foibles and virtues. For example, Annie’s direct boss Joan (Kari Matchett) is constantly trying to work out the personal and professional boundaries of being married to the CIA chief, while Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is troubled by the fact his father is the ex-head of the agency, a man renowned for his shady dealing. Covert Affairs isn’t going to change the world, but it is fun.
The three disc set also includes some deleted scenes, a short but sweet gag reel, a few audio commentaries and a selection of decent featurettes. It’s all worth looking through, with the featurettes offering some interesting info on the making of the series, as well as the sets it’s filmed on. It’s interesting that the creators mention they spent time at the real CIA headquarters during their research, although you get the impression they weren’t given too many operational details, allowing them to create their own, over-the-top take on trying to keep the US safe from international bad guys.
Overall Verdict: It may be a bit OTT and silly, but thanks to a fun attitude, some great action and entertaining character, Covert Affairs is a fun ride.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac