the fall television season began. Then, as now, I believed the show could be the hit we all hoped it would be, even if it didn’t open a floodgate of quality lead television roles for black actors (probably an unfair burden for any new show to carry). In fact, with the following changes, it still can be:
1. Leave ’80s television in the ’80s. The writers of the show seem to be going for the light blend of comedy, drama and romance featuring an attractive couple that characterized hit television shows of 20-30 years ago, i.e. Hart to Hart and Moonlighting. But that kind of programming just doesn’t cut it in 2010. We live in a dangerous world of terrorist threats (both global and domestic), cynical politics, ethically challenged conglomerates, acts of genocide and international conspiracies–all covered on CNN. Any show featuring experienced, world-class undercover CIA operatives has to reflect that. So forget Jonathan and Jennifer Hart–they wouldn’t last 15 minutes in the world that Stephen and Samantha Bloom live in. Think Mr. & Mrs. Smith meets 24. That also means that there needs to be a broader, multi-episode story arc established immediately, instead of each episode being comprised of complete adventures wrapped up in a neat little bow–again, very ’80s. Not only should there be a cliff-hanger after every episode, I should be holding my breath (or at least kept guessing) at every commercial break.
2. If you must add comedy, make it adult comedy. Kill the lame “Awww shucks, they’re just like a regular married couple except THEY’RE SPIES” comedy attempts. No one wants to see John Shaft or Jason Bourne–or even Austin Powers–struggling to work a coffee machine. If you want world-class spy humor, think James Bond (cracking jokes after he breaks someone’s neck or kicks them off a plane at 30,000 feet without a parachute), not Lucille Ball. By the way, Samantha Bloom would not be taking calls from her younger, perenially overwhelmed, alcoholic sister about restaurant over-booking problems while on a mission, not if you want us to take her seriously. It’s not realistic. Worse, it’s not remotely funny.
3. In fact, fire the sister and staff the restaurant with CIA operatives. If the Blooms are such brilliant and dangerous operatives, the CIA would just take over the restaurant to protect the Blooms’ cover, allow them to focus on their missions and, most importantly, to keep tabs on them. This would also add to the danger, conspiracy and potential for deception and betrayal a show like this desperately needs. The world-class sous chef could also be a deadly double agent. The quiet dishwasher could be a CIA plant with orders to