Friday, September 24, 2010

Bloom Day

Undercovers, J.J. Abrams new I Spy/He Spy/She Spy high concept espionage series is as improbable as it is watchable. Steven and Samanta Bloom (who despite being played by actors whose birth names are Boris Federic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kudjoe and Gugulethu Mbatha-Raw have character names that sound like they came straight out of James Joyce's Ulysses), are upscale caterers who used to be highly competent spies. They are called back into the game because an undercover operative has disappeared and in all the world these retired former spies, five years removed from their last assignment, are the only ones capable of handling this particular assignment.

I am willing to suspend belief and believe that five years ago the Blooms were elite covert operatives (despite the fact that actress Mbatha-Raw is only 27, which means she would have retired at the top of her spy game at 22) which makes it easy for me to appreciate the pure J.J. Abrams-ishness of Undercovers. Given carte blanche by the covert agency that covets their particular skill sets, the Blooms are able to globe trot while wearing great looking clothes.

With a single phone call to their star-struck, overly obsequious factotum (Ben Schwartz) the Blooms are able to parachute into Spain, France and Russia at the drop of a hat where their sudden appearance goes unnoticed because they also speak Spanish, French and Russian fluently.

As pure escapism, Undercovers is kind of a kick. For one, for once, although the leads are not of the Caucasian persuasion, no expense has been spared in making Undercovers look rich. Martha Stewart would die for the Blooms catering kitchen and I would die for the office/loft that overlooks said kitchen.

And the action, while occasionally derivative, steals from the best. When little bitty Mbatha-Raw has to hoist a big rocket launcher to stop a bad guy, it is reminiscent of Rae Dawn Chong doing the same thing in Commando and the couple stopping mid-caper to tango is right out of True Lies.

The married Blooms are probably improbably fond of each other but I rather liked that, too.