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6 Fixes That Could Have Made ‘UnderCovers’ A Hit

The "sexpionage" series was pronounced dead by NBC last week. Here's how to bring it back to life.

monitor the Blooms and to eliminate them if the agency deems it necessary. The opportunities for suspense, surprise and mystery are endless. The Blooms shouldn’t be able to truly trust anyone–and neither should the audience.

UNDERCOVERS -- Season:1 -- Pictured: Boris Kodjoe as Steven Bloom -- Photo by: Art Streiber/NBC

Kodjoe's Stephen Bloom should be television's answer to Matt Damon's Jason Bourne. (Photo by Art Streiber/NBC)

4. A makeover for the Blooms. Cut the cute, attractive, romantic couple shtick. The show’s creators are banking too hard on the characters being likable. The Blooms need to be seen as–above everything else–the best at what they do. Dangerous. Scary. I mean BAD, so hardcore (again, think 24‘s Jack Bauer), that we are never totally sure that they are the good guys, that they’re on our side, and relieved any time we find that, in the end, they are. As CIA operatives, they need to make choices, including lying, betrayal and killing people, that challenge our sense of morality, and theirs, too. Moreover, their lives (both their secret pasts and their present) should test their trust in, and thus their love for, one another. The Blooms should be physically and emotionally scarred from the lives they’ve led, and heroic despite, not in the absence of, that damage. They should be hard, not nice, people–vulnerable only when it suits them, and only to one another. Here’s what I’d do with the lead characters:

Kodjoe should play Stephen Bloom just as he has thus far: handsome, funny, charming and disarming. But it should all be a cover for the fact that he is a cold, emotionless, ruthless and expert professional killer willing and able to use every means, including any weapon–poisons, explosives, household objects and his bare hands, to terminate his target. Killing is not personal, it’s just part of the job–and something he’s so good at that he scares Samantha. Worse, Stephen knows that if it came down to it, he has the skill to kill his own wife, despite her experience and training. And his biggest nightmare is that he might have to. By the way, he did not come out of retirement by choice–the CIA is blackmailing him with a death sentence for assassinating a world dictator earlier in his career. (This mission was ordered by his then superiors in the CIA at the time, but mysteriously all evidence of those orders, including the people who gave them, have disappeared.) In short, Stephen Bloom should be television’s answer to Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. This is not a dude who would be so easily distracted by a few scantily clad women that he would lose an enemy operative in a club, as a hapless Stephen so ineptly did in the second episode.

Mbatha-Raw already brings the right aura of cool proficiency to the role of Samantha Bloom. But it must be clear that she is also a professionally trained killer, proficient with both weapons and hand-to-hand combat–though, unlike Stephen, she is morally conflicted about having to kill. However, Samantha is deadly in a totally

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