First Impressions: USA Network’s COVERT AFFAIRS

Doug Liman, producer of the Bourne trilogy and the Pitt/Jolie vehicle Mr. and Mrs. Smith, lends his support to this series from writers Matt Corman and Chris Ord. With a month to go in her CIA training, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) is pulled into the field. Her handlers send her to make a simple wireless transfer of information with an asset they’ve put up in a luxury hotel. Just as the transfer is completed, the asset is assassinated, and Annie has to scramble from there.

Kari Matchett and Peter Gallagher play Annie’s married handlers, Joan and Arthur Campbell. Unknown to Annie, her ex-lover Ben Masters is a rogue agent, and Joan and Arthur are using her to lure Ben in. Annie’s best friend at the Agency appears to be Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham), an ex-Special Forces soldier blinded by an explosion. Auggie provides the bulk of support for Annie’s missions.

My only complaint about the pilot, a significant one, is that during a fight to the death with her main target, Annie is miraculously saved by Ben. Talk about pulling a punch. I also have a minor complaint about the show’s opening credits, which show the actors against cartoony backgrounds, similar to the credits for NBC’s Chuck. Covert Affairs seems to want to set a more realistic tone, so why not have a traditional live-action opening?

Despite the echoes of Alias, Annie’s potential as a brand new character whose legend has yet to be written is what drew Liman to the project, and it will keep me watching for a while.

Covert Affairs airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on USA Network.

Grade: B

–Gerald So