TV Eye

Spy Games

Christopher Gorham and Piper Perabo in <i>Covert Affairs</i>
Christopher Gorham and Piper Perabo in Covert Affairs

Since Alias, The Unit, and finally 24 were canceled, I've been left without my weekly action-adventure fix. Fortunately, the producers of Mr. & Mrs. Smith and the producer of the Bourne trilogy have come together to bring some of their signature thrills to cable with Covert Affairs. It more than satisfies my need for high-octane thrills, and of all the new summer fare, this one is a winner.

As with Alias, Covert Affairs features a strong female lead – here, a CIA agent named Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly, Beverly Hills Chihuahua). Already exhibiting great skill down on the Farm (where all the spooks undergo training), Annie is plucked from training and thrown into a mission, thanks (she's told) to her strong language skills. The mission is supposed to be simple and straightforward: Make contact with an informant, collect information, and deliver the information to CIA headquarters. Well, of course, the simple job turns chaotic and Annie's one-time excursion thrusts her into the life much sooner than intended.

Perabo, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Alias' Jennifer Garner, is swell in her role. Her Annie comes to the spy game nursing a broken heart from a whirlwind romance in Sri Lanka. She is eager to throw herself into work to help her forget as well as prove herself to her superiors, the imperious Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett, late of Invasion) and Arthur Campbell (The OC's Peter Gallagher). Joan and Arthur are married (who else are spies going to marry but other spies, we're informed), which makes for some comic relief, as Joan is extremely suspicious of her highly charismatic husband, the director of Clandestine Service. Annie finds a confidant and ally in Auggie Anderson (Ugly Betty's Christopher Gorham), a CIA military intelligence agent who happens to be blind but ably leads Annie through the CIA's maze of political land mines (he's also her source of cool spy tools).

As it turns out, Annie's fling may have more to do with the CIA's interest in her than imagined, bringing a somewhat labored love story into the premise. Still, it's more believable and tolerable than the happenings on Nikita, the spy drama the CW will trot out later this fall, mostly, it seems, as an excuse to show Lyndsy Fonseca and Maggie Q (as Nikita) kick some ass while scantily clad. Perabo is appealing, but if the pilot is any indication, the missions are just as important as getting to the bottom of the story behind Annie's mysterious lover.

Other cast members include Anne Dudek (House, Mad Men) as Annie's suburban housewife sister. Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes) joins the cast in the second episode as an agent with a long family history of CIA involvement.

Covert Affairs premieres July 13 at 9pm on the USA Network.

What Else Is On?

If you missed it as an online sensation, now is your chance to catch Childrens Hospital on TV. The Webby Award-winning series created by Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) originally aired on and has now moved to the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block with extended episodes – and, hopefully, a very long run. Corddry stars as Dr. Blake Downs, "the clown doctor," the most sullen, ill-tempered children's doctor you could meet. The constant (and borderline creepy) clown makeup he wears makes him hard to miss as he goes about his business, treating his patients with questionable bedside manner and his colleagues with weary tolerance. What makes the show truly laugh-out-loud funny are the dismantling references to every TV hospital drama you've ever seen. Grey's Anatomy, ER, House – no series is safe, often getting a perfect, well-aimed skewer that is as satisfying as it is hilarious. Corddry has lots of help from a no-holds-barred supporting cast; Lake Bell, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally, and Henry Winkler are among the familiar faces, appearing as an assortment of doctors and administrators, and seeming to be having the time of their lives doing it.

Childrens Hospital debuts July 11 at 9:30pm on Adult Swim.

As always, stay tuned.

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Covert Affairs, Piper Perabo, Kari Matchett, Peter Gallagher, Christopher Gorham, Childrens Hospital, Adult Swim

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