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A show that embraces its ability to mindlessly entertain.

DVD Review: Covert Affairs – Season Two

In the year 2000, we were sent two vastly different movies from the lords of cinema. One was The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. The other was Coyote Ugly. Both films featured an attractive young lass in the lead named Piper Perabo — a name that surely sounds like a Marvel superhero’s love interest. With the release of one film, it appeared Piper was destined for a slot on the A-List. Alas, the other movie seemed to completely kill that option altogether. Sadly, no one can really tell Coyote Ugly apart from The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle anymore — as both have earned a reputation for being quite, quite dumb — so trying to attribute the blame is futile.

But Ms. Perabo did not disappear forever, kids. Following several unmemorable roles in several forgettable movies, Piper landed herself a starring role in an espionage series for the USA Network entitled Covert Affairs — a name that surely sounds like a late-night Cinemax softcore flick. Premiering in July of 2010 with an eleven episode first season, the show proved successful enough to warrant another go, which is presented here in Covert Affairs: Season Two — a sixteen episode set presented on four discs and with several special features to boot.

If you’re not at all familiar with the series, Covert Affairs finds Piper Perabo as Annie Walker — a gifted CIA trainee sans the experience and gun. Nevertheless, her own God-given talents manage to get her through whatever it is her superior (Kari Matchett) assigns her to do. Christopher Gorham co-stars as Annie’s blind special-ops friend who frequently uses his skill to get her out of sticky situations (they also land in one together in this season, which seriously sets up a shark for the series to jump over), Sendhil Ramamurthy is the proverbial annoying Federal Agent jerk, Anne Dudek (“Cutthroat Bitch” from a memorable House story arc) is Annie’s oblivious sister, and Peter Gallagher has a low-key supporting role as a CIA executive who never seems to be entirely kosher (frankly, Pete should just start lending his marvelous voice to animated works and video games if this is the best he can do for an on-camera role these days).

Season Two opens with a recap of the previous season’s finale, which is confusing for one who hasn’t seen the series before (it concerns Annie and her former love interest), but — fortunately — is not very vital to the overall storyline. Actually, the whole series isn’t extremely important to the storyline: most of these episodes stand on their own quite well. That’s not to say they’re great standalone episodes, however. While it’s nice to see Piper in action (literally), I felt that Covert Affairs simply tries way too hard to deliver the goods when all the goods aren’t there to begin with. Essentially, the writing is pretty moderately-to-sub-average stuff, entertaining audiences in more of a good time-wasting way than as a “wave-making” show should.

But at least it’s good for killing time; in fact, this runaway TV hit embraces its ability to mindlessly entertain, so I really can’t dismiss it for that reason. I think it could be lot better if the writers tried, though. And, again, it’s nice to see Piper Perabo making a name for herself again. Her performance in Season Two certainly didn’t miss the attention of the 2011 Golden Globes, wherein she was nominated for Best Actress. So maybe there’s hope for her career just yet — first she has to track down every copy of Coyote Ugly and destroy it. Or was that The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle? I can never tell the two apart.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings us Covert Affairs: Season Two to DVD in a fine (for Standard-Definition, that is) 1.78:1 widescreen presentation, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 English soundtrack that delivers. An English Descriptive Video Service (DVS) audio track is also available in DD 2.0, and English (SDH) subtitles are included. The special features for this baby consist of several deleted scenes, a gag reel, Piper’s introduction of the series at Comic-Con 2011, and a behind-the-scenes featurette entitled “Covert Affairs On Location.”

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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