different way: as a master of misinformation, infiltration and manipulation, as well as a world class hacker, thief and safe cracker, willing to use blackmail, identity theft, technology attacks and industrial espionage to achieve her ends. Samantha is so good at lying that even her husband is never sure she is telling the truth, how many secrets she keeps or how far she’ll go to maintain subterfuge in order to complete her mission. In fact, Samantha chose to come out of retirement only to protect a secret from her past so big, but buried so deeply in a morass of half-truths and misinformation, that even the CIA doesn’t know the real truth. And she’s determined that, no matter what, her husband can never find out. Unfortunately, the stress of keeping track of all of her lies and deceptions keeps Samantha under constant mental and emotional strain.
5. Forget about “sexpionage”–make this a love story. We get it: Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw are easy to look at. In fact, they’re gorgeous. But stop the contrived efforts to show them half-naked. Believe it or not, they are no less sexy with their clothes on. Instead of focusing on sex appeal, UnderCovers presents a ground-breaking opportunity to present a loving bond between a black man and a black woman, capable of withstanding every test, including deception, torture, infidelity, distrust, dark secrets, morally reprehensible choices and painful revelations that would destroy most relationships. By the way, when they do get naked, their bodies should show the scars–from bullets, knives, shrapnel and physical beatings–that are the badges of living life as dangerous undercover operatives, with those scars also helping to tell the story of the wear and tear their love has endured. Their lives put their relationship in constant danger, but their heroism and devotion to each other repeatedly pulls it back from the brink when all love seems lost. It’s a bond between black men and black women that’s survived the Middle Passage, lynching, Jim Crow and institutional racism, adapted to a 21st century in which black love remains under constant threat by enemies foreign and domestic. Now that is romantic.
And finally, the most important change of all:
6. Terminate Bill Hoyt, the computer expert (played by Ben Schwartz) with the man-crush on Stephen Bloom. With extreme prejudice. Or at least add a sinister, dark underbelly to the geeky character. How about having his hero worship of Bloom evolve into a gay fatal-attraction, driving him to secretly plot the death of Samantha?
By the way, in case I haven’t been clear, the problem with UnderCovers is NOT the lead actors. I happen to believe that both Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw are well-suited for their roles, even with my changes. If anything, they’re being under-utilized as actors, in favor of them being eye candy. They deserve better.
Anyway, that’s what I’d do. Though UnderCovers is canceled, NBC plans to air three more episodes of the show through December 1, and another three episodes, already in the can, will be aired sometime after that. Though no one is saying so, NBC could give the show another chance. If that doesn’t happen, Kodjoe has tweeted that he hopes BET might consider picking it up. In any case, with the above changes, I think the show can still be a hit.
Be honest: Did you like UnderCovers? Why or why not? Can UnderCovers get a do-over? Should it? What do you think?