J.J. Abrams' 'Undercovers': Three reasons why it went under

undercoversImage Credit: Art Streiber/NBCA new drama about sexy spies from J.J. Abrams, the creator of Alias? That would seem to have “HIT” written all over it. And so it went that NBC’s Undercovers arrived this fall as one of the season’s most promising new shows. But even with an energetic pilot helmed by Abrams himself, appealing and strikingly attractive actors in the lead roles, and an undemanding, easy-breezy approach to storytelling, the newfangled Hart to Hart failed to stir any true passion among TV viewers. It bowed to weak numbers (8.6 million), and only grew weaker as the weeks progressed (Wednesday’s episode: 5.8 million). Why did Undercovers go under? Here are three reasons:

It wasn’t Alias-y enough for J.J. Abrams fans.
Undercovers was engineered for a marketplace that was seemingly weary of the kind of shows that Abrams’ has been linked to over the past several years—ambitious, serialized sagas with heady, trippy ideas and lots of backstory mythology for the viewer to recall and track. The gradual decline over time of Lost as well as the inability of shows like Fringe to consistently click with the masses would seem to be proof that Undercovers might benefit from an alternative creative approach. The good news: Viewers got the message that Undercovers was a different kind of Abrams spy-fi series. The bad news is that the viewers who actually liked the other kind of Abrams spy-fi series all went: “Okay, then. Not for me.”

Where was the urgency?
In trying to make a show that was decidedly fun and accessible by today’s TV marketplace standards, NBC wound up with the show that felt like another Chuck, also a geek-lite spy-fi romp that radiates little or no sense of gottawatchitnow. (Although Chuck has something going for it that Undercovers never had: It has been — and remains — something of a media darling. Seriously, I think that show owes a huge debt to Michael Ausiello alone. And Subway.) NBC’s other major geek-friendly new drama, The Event, is also currently struggling for viewership — but it did launch to much stronger numbers, because it positioned itself as… well, an event. As something that must be watched, because everyone will be talking about it the next day and obsessing about it for weeks. The Event hasn’t lived up to that hype, but it certainly proved the value of hype. By contrast, Undercovers seemed like a take it-or-leave it proposition — and alas, most viewers left it alone… or just left.

The leads lacked star power.
Undercovers focused on Steven and Samantha Bloom, married ex-spies who run an L.A. catering business who get sucked back into the cloak and dagger life. It certainly isn’t an uncommercial concept. After all, Brad Pitt an Angelina Jolie scored one of the biggest hits of their respective careers with a very similar premise, the 2005 smash Mr. and Mrs. Smith, about unhappily married secret agent assassins. But did the premise flatter the stars, or did the stars flatter the premise? Obviously, it was the latter (enhanced, of course, by the hot sauce of all that tabloid notoriety at the time), and I dare say Undercovers didn’t succeed because Abrams and Co. eschewed a proven formula and went unconventional, i.e. casting total unknowns that possessed zero celebrity baggage, interesting or otherwise. We say this with all due respect to Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, both promising talents who will hopefully find great success in other projects, but one person’s “Fresh new faces are really exciting!” is another person’s “Who the hell are they and why should I care?” Bottom line: Undercovers needed to be a star vehicle for two sexy, established celebs with compelling career stories that could have enhanced their roles with irony and interest.

ADDITION AT 10 PM PST: I meant no offense to Chuck fans. I watch and enjoy the show myself–but not every week. And I never feel like I miss much when I miss a couple episodes at a time. It’s not a show I need to watch every week, because it doesn’t present itself like a show that must be watched every week. Regardless, one romantic spy-fi drama is enough; I don’t need another one–and apparently, neither does NBC. Also, my “three reasons Undercovers went under” focused on aspects and characteristics of the show that may have discouraged tune-in from the beginning. I chose not to discuss post-pilot creative choices that may have inspired viewers to stop watching each week because I have not seen every episode of Undercovers. Finally, there are many reasons for any show’s demise, and it’s easy to disagree on the ones which are most pertinent. Judging from your comments, Undercovers is no exception.

The question before you, PopWatchers: Did you watch Undercovers? If no — why not? If yes: What did you like about it, and what should it have done differently? Anything?

Read more:
NBC cancels ‘Undercovers’

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  • Josie

    I watched the first two weeks, but it honestly wasn’t compelling enough. I loved so many things about it, but they just didn’t seem to come together very well

    • ann

      agreed! I really tried to like it, but it was boorrrrring.


        I wanted to like this, but the cast had no chemistry, and the storys not too special.

      • Butter

        I watched the pilot which I recorded on my DVR but alas, after 20 minutes I fell asleep. It was really boring so I erased it from my DVR. I was relieved actually that the show was not a must-watch one because my DVR is in bad need of space!

      • calistoga

        I started watching it for all the positive reasons stated here. I liked it for all the positive reasons stated here.
        We don’t have enough good dramas in the 8 and 9 slots!!!!
        NBC has screwed us again. It’s just the suits playing their games with each other at our expense.
        Back to cable…here I come!


        I realized the other day what the problem with this show was. Yeah the chemistry didn’t really gel between the two leads and you didn’t care about them either. noone wants to watch a happily married couple cavort week after week. if they had made them a divorced couple that had to work together, it would have had some immediate bite and there would have been an immediate interest in trying to get them back together. i tried to watch and like this bc i didn’t want the industry to say that any minority lead programming can’t succeed in primetime on the networks. but it just didn’t work on it’s own merits. oh, and the sister character? two dumb to be believable and why would they answer their cells to talk to her about fluff in the middle of serious missions? and really? the who restaurant thing? stupid….

      • Joe

        hmmm…. what went wrong?? Several things. The lead actor has a rediculous goatee, the lead actress looks like she is 12 years old, during missions it’s always “careful sweetie” or “good job hunny”, that alone takes away from the experience of the mission. They tried to make this waaay too much like Mr and Mrs Smith (near the end of the movie) and it’s like that every episode. The lead actress really turned me off of the show, she’s not very good at all. The rest of the cast were good, the computer guy and the other agent were top notch for their roles. Sucks for JJ Abrams but after the success of Alias doing another spy-esque show was too much of a gamble. Stick to the original stuff like Fringe!!

    • blaaaake!

      Glad this is canceled, now if we can just cancel obummer and the democant’s in the senate I will be happy.

      • Chelle

        Shouldn’t you be watching Fox News?

      • DN

        Could you learn to spell? Oh, is this former President Bush?

      • wow…

        This show is so boring that people would rather bash politicians than talk about it in the comments.

      • allobidallo

        @DN, were you too dumb to see the spellings were on purpose?

      • yawn

        The primary reason it’s cancelled is because most of America’s caucasian populace are big fat hypocrites and love nothing more than to watch other white folks on their TV.

        You know why Chuck survived this long? Two words : Yvonne Strahovski. That and a lot of geeky crap.

        So, let’s all be honest here, it’s not because the leads were two unknowns that the they failed.
        It’s because the leads are two BLACK unknowns that the show failed. Evangeline Lilly and Josh Holloway were two unknowns when they were cast on Lost, no star power. Yet here we are, 6 years later, and look what happened to them.

        You people in the American Media try too much to be politically correct but you’re also giant hypocrites and corporate tools.

      • dusen

        Agreed – sad but true. For the author to not allude to color being a possible factor is just naive.

      • Grumpster

        Cancel that fat blob Rush Limberger and Glen Blech.

      • harry

        Now you sound like a racist.

      • KMG

        @yawn: sorry, but as much as you’d like the problem to be the race of its actors, it wasn’t. I’m white, and was REALLY looking forward to this show. I thought Gugu was MAJOR hot, and my wife and daughter both broke out in drool every time Boris took his shirt off. But in the end, we stopped watching it because we were just bored by it. The chemistry between the two leads was tepid, the action scenes weren’t exciting enough, the comedic scenes weren’t funny enough, and the plots weren’t interesting enough. Actually, aside from Gerald McRaney, the only reason I DID watch as many episodes as I did was because of the two lead actors.
        Comparing these two to Evangeline Lilly and Josh Sawyer is useless… Lost was exciting, innovative, compelling, and fun to watch – everything that Undercovers WASN’T. Those two became stars because they were on a good show that people wanted to watch, not because they were white.
        I agree with Doc Jensen here… I can’t wait to see where these two promising actors end up next, and I’ll gladly watch them again. Just not on this show.

      • TQB

        @KMG, I totally agree. My husband and I were so excited for this show. I loved that a major network was giving us this kind of show with minority leads. I firmly believe that Gugu and Boris are gorgeous talents with bright futures; this show just didn’t do them justice.

      • Warda

        Tad off topic here. I don’t recall anything political in the original post, so why do you need to bring it in here?

      • BG 17

        I don’t know if I buy the race angle being to blame. If Abrams had used a couple of black actors that he had used in the past (like, say Merrin Dungey from Alias and Lost’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), I would have been there first night. It was about star power for me.

      • Terry

        I never saw the show cuz i don’t get NBC(or ABC for that matter) but I was looking forward to this. It sounds like a better fit for USA though. And at this point in time, you can’t blame racism. Let’s face it, if a sizable portion of the African American community had tuned in, the show would still be on. It sounds like blacks weren’t watching either.

      • Melissa

        Blaaaaake! has been canceled due to irrelevance and lame wordplay. In his place, we will be airing a rerun of Minute to Win It.

      • Not fat caucasion.

        Biggest-racist-of-them-all Yawn, have you been down south, or California, or the Broncs? Black people are NOT known for being skinny. The only black celebrity who made it for being skinny, Tyra Banks, has now ballooned up. Star Jones, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce is beefy, Neise Nash, Whoopie, the Dr. Baily from Grey’s, Mariah Carey no matter what she does always just looks HUGE, Jennifer Hudson, MoNique, Oprah, Janet Jackson struggles with weight. Zoe Saldana is of latina origin and Halle Barry is 1/2 white from her mom. Probably the skinny 1/2 of her DNA. You get my point. Black cooking intigrating into restaurants is probably a big contribution to America’s AS A WHOLE over weight problem. The majority of unrealisticly skinny women portrayed in all fascets of the media are always skinny caucasians, causing eating disorders mostly found in young caucasian girls. So you’re ingnorant statement there has no validity.
        LOST had Matthew Fox who had just come from his pretty big success from Party of Five, and Dominic Monaghan from the trilogy you might of heard of Lord of the Rings. It was compelling from episode 1.
        I’m white. I watched this show. It was boring. End of story. Even the old guy from Major Dad wasn’t delivering.
        And there is a lot or truth that a little less face time of my white President and his corrupt Dem. followers wouldn’t hurt!!
        “Former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi” has aaaa BEEUTIFUL sound to it! Romney 2012!

      • Babs

        What a jerk…why is President Obama brought into every topic? You are a true jerk!

      • @yawn

        While the geek references in Chuck kept me hooked initially, Yvonne was a big reason why I stuck around long enough for Chuck to be one of my favorite shows. Regarding Lost, Sawyer and Kate may have been nobody’s but you had Dominic Monahan fresh out of hobbit gear plus Terry O’Quinn and Ian Somerhalder pulling various nerd groups to the show.

        While the leads being black may have factored into some people’s decision, the inconsistent tone of the show and a lack of arc was what eventually led me to remove it from my series recordings.

      • Richard

        Look, the elements in Undercovers just didn’t click, unlike the elements in Chuck. As for Lost, the elements didn’t just click, they were for the most part compelling. Btw, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is just as hot as Yvonne Strahovski.

      • Richard

        The big problem for Undercovers is that the elements didn’t click. The elements Chuck did & do click (at least when Jeff & Lester are in the episodes). As for Lost, not only did the elements click, most of them were compelling. Btw, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is just as hot as Yvonne Strahovski & I’m white.

      • Joe

        Sorry “blaaaake!”, no one gives a sh!t if you are happy or not…

      • lkwashi

        Does your mother and father(which was more than likey brother and sister) know that your out and about talking and sounding like a true horse’s fart

    • Chaz Winterbottom

      Yep. I watched the first episodes and liked them well enough but it was so light weight that it made it easy to walk away.

      • Seth Fine

        Your sentiments are also mine. I knew once I went from viewer to critic the end was near.

      • Ames

        too light for me. I think if they had made them private eyes, it might have worked. But to watch bungling CIA agents was troubling, not fun.

      • Steve G.

        And there was no underlying thread to hook you in on a weekly basis. You could watch one, skip a few, come back, and you wouldn’t have missed anything.

    • JD Peterson

      Jeff Jensen, are you serious about reason #3? Boris Kodjoe is not an unknown actor. He may not be as well known as Denzel Washington or Brad Pitt, but he has had a successful film and TV career, especially in the movie and TV series Soul Food. Didn’t you know that? You work for an entertainment magazine. Your recaps of Lost were full of esoteric references and well-researched facts, so please extend the same courtesy to the rest of your work.

      • caliban821

        People who watch Soul Food may have heard of him but I had no idea who the man was since I dont have Showtime. I looked up that the man has a decent number of acting creds but you could argue he is still not an established “star” in the consciousness of the general public

      • laura

        Kodjoe is virtually unknown. “Who IS that?” was the main reaction to his casting. He certainly doesn’t have much of a fan following. Judging by his bad acting, I see why.

      • Tarc

        He’s more known for his print modeling than anything else – at least to the general public.

      • AJ

        Boris is well known-primarily to African-Americans. I know that’s the main reason why I gave the show a chance-he’s very good eye candy and a good actor. I cannot say that I know much about the female lead, but my husband didn’t mind watching her either! It is disappointing that Doc J doesn’t realize that Boris isn’t a virtual newcomer/unknown to everyone. But more to the point of the article, the main reason that I stopped watching after two episodes was that the show wasn’t that interesting. It lacked an edge and the comedy did seem cheesy. I was hoping for more. Regardless of who was in the starring role, the script still would have been the same. And someone else made a valid point. Lost was excellent because of the script, not because it was full of stars. Matthew Fox was one of the only known “stars” when the show launched. And many Lost fans had a love/hate affair with him throughout the series (including our own Doc J). The script is what keeps you coming back. That’s what matters and Undercovers fell a bit short.

      • who cares

        white people don’t know who he is

      • B

        THANK YOU AJ! When the show first came out and EW listed Boris as one of the fresh young faces, I was like.. “uh.. he’s not fresh, he’s been out for a while now!” But the fact is.. “Who Cares” is correct.. Caucasians don’t know him. He’s a very good actor, and I’ve seen just about everything he’s been in.. but I do watch the “black” movies as well as main stream.

        I for one did enjoy the show and watched it religiously. I think it’s sad that it didn’t get a good enough following. I thought both actors played very well, and while it was a little “light” for a spy show, *I* personally was connecting to the characters and the plot. I hope they get something else on a major network now that they have been seen.

      • ash.

        “Boris is well known-primarily to African-Americans. I know that’s the main reason why I gave the show a chance” (AJ). Lol! that’s my sentiments exactly…
        I was surprised that the ew.com critic described him as a relatively new actor because he has been around for awhile starring in different movies i.e.The Gospel, Madea’s Family Reunion, and etc, but I suppose all of those movies are typically targeted specifically for African-American audiences.

    • Bill

      Reason # 4: Lost series finale…

      • pastafarian

        boohoo, you didn’t like the finale. Irrelevant and off-topic.

      • JFWilder

        No…I’d say that Bill is right on. I will NOT watch another Abrams show, given the fiasco of a final season and final two episodes of LOST. His trust has been broken beyond repair.

        This is also why many LOST fans I know won’t watch The Event. Why bother when we know we’ll be let down in the end anyway with a cheap cop-out ending. I’m not investing any more time in something to this effect, and probably has a lot to do with why I just can’t get into Fringe, even though I tried hard this season.

      • DW

        Not that it matters to crazy people on the internet, but JJ Abrams had barely anything to do with LOST following the pilot episode. Do some research.

      • Merry Bear

        I agree, Bill. Not getting invested again, no way, no how.

      • BG 17

        I actually barely watch TV anymore because of the debacle that was the final season of Lost. Such promise = no payoff…

      • Smokey Locke Strangers

        I was a big fan of both Alias and Lost. I thought Alias had a far worse end than LOST. I enjoyed the finale for the most part..

      • Derek

        I would say that both Bill and DW are incorrect. JJ Abrams had a lot to do with Lost’s good years, ie. he came up with the bible for the show, cast it, and generally set the tone and set everything in motion. Damon and Carlton’s finale reportedly departed from the show bible, so the way I see it, they’re the ones that slowly chipped away at the quality of Lost.

      • JFWilder

        DW-guilt by association. JJ had enough to do with it, and they hyped up his association with LOST as his baby. We all know that CUSE and LINDELOF really messed with it, but Abrams came up with the premise and obviously had a hand in what the end was envisioned. C&L played the shell game and burned us – and we’re not gonna play again.

    • ted

      Felt the same way. I’m a big JJ fan, but there was no drama, no angst. And the leads were ok, but they didn’t project character – just felt shallow. Also, there wasn’t a lot of excitement to the plot lines. I stopped after the 3rd ep.

      • Adam

        Agreed about the leads. I liked them, but I didn’t instantly LOVE them like I did with Jennifer Garner in Alias. It didn’t matter that they weren’t stars as stated in the article. I just wanted a little more punchy charisma in this type of show.

    • SLB

      I didn’t bother. I knew it would be cancelled.

    • Rush

      Seriously, there is only one reason why it tanked: it was on NBC and NBC sucks. Next article! Next article!

      • Tony

        Agreed, this show was better off on Fox after House or Bones, Shows that dont be taken seriously

    • AT

      I tried to like it. Really, I did. It seemed like it could have been interesting. But the stories were dull and awkward. The chemistry between the cast members wasn’t there. I made it through 3 episodes and stopped caring.

      I prefer my two USA spy shows: Burn Notice and Covert Affairs. Better storytelling and better characters.

      • ChocPrincess

        I’ll keep watching till the end (hope springs eternal), but AT is right, Burn Notice and Covert Affairs are way better shows. And this is definitely not Alias.
        And FYI to my fellow black viewers who don’t get this: It’s not always about “white people don’t like it because it’s black.” The show lacks sexual tension and real action scences.

    • MMJ

      I have to agree. I wanted to love this show. Boris Kodjoe (hot hot hot) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are likable enough and I loved Gerald McRaney, but I never found the show compelling enough to hold my full interest. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it didn’t. They sort of set up this “hidden agenda” storyline, but didn’t get the viewers involved enough to grab us like he did with Alias.

      Then, the show had no real humor or romance. Yes, it could be sexy at times, but romance was missing. I found Gerald McRaney’s character’s snide comments amusing, but that was pretty much it on the humor. (The techie’s ass-kissing was not that amusing.) The support characters had no personalities either. This left the show with nothing to lean on but the so-so storylines and the likability of the main stars. Chuck has the some of the same so-so stories, but the humor and characters surrounding them make it worth watching.

      They totally could have done this a la Mission Impossible suspense crossed with Hart to Hart romance with a little Alias-why-do-they-want-us-back-so-badly intrigue. There was just no intrigue or suspense or romance. I will keep watching (or fast-forwarding through) to the end still hoping it gets better. I will be sad to see it go, but, sadly, won’t really miss it.

    • Big Walt

      Too many spy shows lately. That’s probably the main reason.

    • ashlee

      I agree. I watched the first two episodes and found it boring. It just wasn’t interesting.

    • jason

      COME on!!! Boris is a pretty man and a former model but calling him an actor is a huge stretch. The leads had NO chemistry whatsoever.

    • @ Meredith

      Stingy dogma eaters, you don’t deserve

    • thorswitch

      I actually enjoyed the show quite a bit, but I tend to like breezy shows with crimes or espionage at their centre, so it was almost a gimme that I’d like it. I found the leads to be very charming. The one thing I would have changed is that I would have toned down Hoyt’s Steve obsession quite a bit. Some things, like calling Samantha “Mrs. Agent Bloom” were cute and kinda fun, but too often it just went over the top and the whole set up sometimes felt a bit icky – not because of any kind of homosexual overtones – I never felt that from Hoyt – but just the obsessive hero-worship and near inability to give Steve ANY breathing room anytime they were working together.

      Otherwise, though, I thought it was a nice little show and I’ll probably miss it for a bit until some new shiny toy comes along and grabs my attention away :D

    • renee

      that’s the sad part. i watched the first 3 episodes and said enough. this is horrible. no chemistry. bad writing. weak storylines.
      then the tv was on nbc the next week so watched it. hmmm not bad. the next week, even better. by this week the chemistry was there. the characters were developing and likable. it’s a shame this show was canceled, and didn’t put it’s best foot forward from the beginning.

    • Dwight

      Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, these are the two reasons I did not watch, not only who the hell are they but how they hell do you pronounce their names.

  • Shone

    The show was plain boring and the scripts were ultra lame. I wish the leads the best of luck because they deserve better material.

    • googoo


    • LaT

      This is really the heart of it, I think — the mediocre, tepid writing. If the scripts/plots had been smarter and more clever, I think it could have built an audience via word of mouth. Its premiere numbers, while not great, were in a position to grow rather than diminish, and the growth would have come, I think, if it had been better written. I liked the leads and enjoyed the delicious crankiness of Gerald McRaney as their handlers. But the cases were dumb, as were the conflicts that arose within them. I couldn’t keep watching just because I thought Mbatha-Raw and Kodjoe were pretty together and I liked their chemistry. I needed the show to have a little more oomph overall.

      • Shaun

        I agree, the writing direction was flawed. While it’s great to have happy endings, obviously that can’t be the case always. You needed real danger, with real consequences and emotions (at least some bruises).

  • rockatansky

    You’re on the money here, Jeff. I never watched this show and didn’t care about it enough to even DVR it, especially for reason #3. I’m so glad to see African Americans as leads in anything but a Tyler Perry sitcom, but the zero charisma (in terms of being-a-lead charisma) was probably the most problematic issue for this series.

    • wiseguy

      It’s kinda ironic that with the NAACP complaining that there are very few minority leads on TV nowadays, NBC aired Undercovers with not one but two black performers as its main leads and yet, this show still got low ratings. Where was the support from the African-American community? Or is the show so terrible that only a few African-Americans would watch it?

      • Ari

        I’m African-American and when speaking to friends, we all agreed that the show was boring. I personally wanted something more in-line with Alias. I continued to watch in hopes of seeing the mythology. So much for that.

      • tuneman

        baby, we tried. but the show was dull. it felt like i was actually watching Hart to Hart, only they were both way more famous when that show debuted.
        A spy show needs at the least, a cult following, meaning a more clear mythology.
        I don’t rush to watch Chuck, but i do catch up with it on DVR, because i feel i could miss something. But there was NO urgency to this show.

        And nothing personal J.J. Abrams. There was no Rimbaldi mythology in the Alias pilot, but it was among the most compelling hours of television ever.


        Just because we are black, does not mean we will watch a boring show. Do you watch the chase because youe are white, no you don’t because it is boring.

      • GN

        LOL very true Irene! :)

  • BJohnson

    It looked like a TV Mr. & Mrs. Smith or True Lies and I had already seen both movies, why waste time with the show?

    • Jesse

      Exactly. There’s nothing new on the table with UNDERCOVERS. It lacked the star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis or Brangelina, it didn’t have the compelling mystery element of ALIAS, and it didn’t have the heart of CHUCK.

      • Jesse

        I liked the pilot, the leads were very good and had nice chemistry (and were indeed very attractive, LOL), but is that enough to save a show?

  • Monique

    OH HELL NO! None of these reasons come close. Y’all know why this failed! Mr & Mrs Smith was exactly the same as this, and it did well. Want to know why? The leads were WHITE! Stupid racist America doesn’t watch shows with African-Americans. Just another show to dump into the pile of cancelled black shows. Hollywood is disgusting and if the leads were white you know this would be a hit!

    • Reality

      Great…play the race card. You insult yourself and the show when you play that card while completely making any of the hard work the stars did irrelevant with a comment like that. Bravo.

      • blaaaake!

        I agree black people really are the death of modern society.

      • Antwon

        No Blaaaaake, the death of modern society stems from birth control being retroactive which clearly you are living proof of–bigot.

      • MCS

        Is this really the same ‘Blaaaake!’ that called me a bigot two weeks ago in the Rocky Horror/Glee debate? What a joke. People like you make me sick.

      • TRIM

        White people only deal with Will Smith & Denzel! Its a wrap for everybody else! New White TV stars are established every year! smdh..

    • Josh

      Oh maybe you’re disgusting for just throwing out the race card.

      In fact when most people talked about this show, they said nothing about it’s plot, or the fact that the character’s weren’t white it was:

      “Man those two people are hot”.

      Seriously that was what I heard most people say.

    • ks

      WTF I don’t even want to know where that came from.

    • taxgirl

      I’m sorry, but it appears that YOU have the race problem. I can list numerous shows with African American stars that I and millions others have loved throughout the years.
      I Spy
      The Jeffersons
      Good Times
      What’s Happening
      Cosby Show
      In the Heat of the Night
      Different World
      Everybody Hates Chris
      Living Single
      These are just off the top of my head(and I think I’m showing my age)…If I spent a few moments thinking back I could come up with others, plus some excellent actors that played crucial supporting roles.
      Am I delusional enough to state that there enough minority representation on tv? No(and the 70s to 90s seemed to have better shows)…but don’t stereotype groups of people and then get upset when stereotypes are projected in your direction.

    • Anon

      Actually I’m white and loved the show so I think the race factor isn’t whats at issue. The problem is that there are just too many things to choose from and the Networks no longer give a show a chance to find an audience. They used to give all new shows at least a season – not anymore.

    • MelindaB

      Saying that people didn’t watch because the leads are black is just as racist as you’re accusing “America” of being.

      • nathan temple

        I agree im white and I thought the
        two leads were great.its just that
        the show was lousy!

      • TRIM

        You people are jokes! Especially you MelindaB! You whites can never see the world through the eyes of a black person! We live in two completely different worlds! F outta here with your BS!!!

    • Sarcasm alert…

      You are totally right. I mean, The Cosby Show as a complete disaster back in the 80s. You would have thought that NBC would have learned their lesson 20 years ago and given up on the idea of ever having another show features black actors. (And fyi, NEITHER lead is African-American. Mbatha-Raw is British and Kodjoe was born in Austria and grew up in Germany.)

      • Sarcasm alert…

        …sticky keyboard causing typos…but I think you get my point.

      • ger

        Yes, I can’t believe black people aren’t thankful there was once a hit comedy that starred black people 20 years ago. Especially one that starred the edgy Bill Cosby.

      • Get a CLUE

        Unfortunately too many blacks think Bill Cosby is an “Uncle Tom”. He tells it like it is to the black community and they can’t stand it. The Cosby Show, Good Times, What’s Happening, What’s Happening, The Jeffersons, Family Matters, Sanford & Son, A Different World, In Living Color, Martin, Living Single, etc. etc. etc. were all watched by BOTH white and black people. Get a clue.

        Who is the true racist? The one who always brings Race into the picture.

      • Sarcasm alert…

        @ger – You missed my point, but whatever. Monique was making a blanket generalization that I answered wih another sarcastic generalization.

        As the poster after you commented, there having been many wonderul and successful shows featuring black performers as the leads since Cosby. (Who doesn’t deserve the disdain he sometimes gets for showing black people as being successful, smart and high achieving.) One of my favorites, Everybody Hates Chris, was brilliant, but sadly cut way too short because it just didn’t get the ratings…which happens to a lot of great shows regardless of the leads’ race.

      • josh

        i dont completely agree with the poster about race being a 100% of the problem but it certainyly factors in at least in terms of the articles third reason, taht the stars dont have notoriety. think about it – if we all agree the show might have been more strong with “established stars,” then who, aside from a handful of busy non-white film stars are there to play these roles? the problem is that there arent enoguh non-white major stars with a famous name. i know response is goign to partly be, well there are, but if you count the number compared to the number of white stars there arent. also, if you look at what jj abrams was trying to do, he at least partially trying to break that mold – remember when alias came out, did anyone know jennifer garner? no. same here, and i think at least to a degree race may have played a role with some, not all, but some people. when it comes down to it though i think the main reason it failed is cause it was simply boring as all f$#%, and horribly cheesy.

    • I knew something like this was coming

      Thanks for being so predictable Monique. The problem is the dearth of major network television shows to feature black lead characters (or any minority really). There are plenty of white lead shows that get canceled for the same reasons Undercovers did. It’s just that there is an abundance of shows featuring white leads in comparison to the ones featuring blacks. So when a black lead show is canceled because it doesn’t connect with audiences, it’s more noticeable because it’s such a rarity.

      • God

        I think “Monique” is a white dude. You can’t believe anything you read on the Internet.

      • @God

        Agreed. BTW, sorry about your son and all…

      • TRIM

        If you truly believed what you were stating then you wouldnt use the name “I knew something like this was coming” F outta here!!!!

      • Geronimo Jackson

        TRIM: What is F outta here supposed to mean. I obviously understand the F part but are you saying that you are outta here like a Seacrest out or are you telling the others that you don’t agree with to get the F outta here. Or is it something completely different? Nothing wrong with having a catch phrase but it should be something that is understood.

      • Joel

        I for one am white and decided to watch the show (and I thought the woman was HOT, especially that scene of the pilot with her in her underwear? HAWT). But it just wasn’t as interesting to me as other shows this year (like The Event and Hawaii 5-0 which, surprise, have minorities in big parts. Half the cast of 5-0 is Asian-American, and two huge major characters in Event are minorities.

        And, what’s this about Chuck not being a show to watch every week? What? What show is this writer watching? She clearly hasn’t seen anything past the second season.

      • I knew something like this was coming

        I truly believe what I said Trim. The moment I read the headline I knew someone was going to use the message board as a bullhorn and start screaming about “stupid racist America” and how, oh, if only they’d been white . . . I haven’t the time or the patience for people who make base generalizations with regards to race. Not the bigots and not the advocates. Does prejudice exist? Defiantly. Does it play a factor into decisions? No Question. Is it the sole mitigating factor of why a human being makes the choices he or she does? No one’s that simple. Hollywood deals with Denzel and Will because they’re a proven brand. It’s a damn shame that studios don’t cultivate more minority talent. But one of the shortsighted arguments for this is based around the myth that “stupid racist America doesn’t want to watch shows with African-Americans.” Which is a bu11$h!t argument. I don’t buy it from the studios and I don’t buy it from Monique.

    • Chelle

      Ummm, actually, I’m white and I hated Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Watched it on DVD and finished it in 20 minutes because I fast-forwarded a lot.

    • DN

      Actually, if you want to draw a comparison to “Mr. And Mrs. Smith”, and that fact that it starred to major movie stars, if “Undercovers” starred Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, it would still be on the air.

      • Carma

        I would totally watch Denzel and Halle on my TV every week. Someone make that show, lol!

    • Shebaba

      Monique is somewhat right. Having non-white leads definitely makes it harder to sell to the masses. But where was the ad campaign for this show? I never heard anything about it, and I liked all of JJ Abrams’ previous shows.

      • Wym

        Where was the ad campaign??? All the ads drove me crazy! BUMBA-LAY-OOOOO!!!!! I was annoyed to see so many of them which kind of turned me off to the show.

    • jezoebel

      Race has nothing to do with it. If they had cast, for example, Taye Diggs and Halle Berry, the show would probably have a chance.

      • TRIM

        Jezoebel you are an idiot! What world you live in!

    • John

      Gugu Mbatha-Raw is not African American.

      • peter

        Gugu Mbatha-Raw is not unknown – empty head! She played Martha Jones’ sister – Trish – in a little show called Doctor Who!! Only watched by a few billion people. Unknown indeed! Where do you live? Planet Freaking Hollywood? Hate to tell you this – coz I guess you don’t know – Hugh Laurie is English!! AND he’s on a show you may have heard of – “HOUSE”. Yvonne Strahovsky – Aussie. John Noble (Fringe)- Aussie. Anna Torv (Fringe) -Aussie!! (Victorian too – Just like me!!) Travis Fimmel (The Beast) – Aussie ( Victorian too!!). Tell ya what Jeff, use this thing on the internet called IMDB. It may come in handy to you, you know, if you ever want to be regarded as a serious (hahahahahaha!!) entertainment journo!!

      • Meg

        @Peter Gugu-Mbatha-Raw is unknown to anyone who doesn’t watch Doctor Who. There are some places that don’t get BBC America and are not exposed to Doctor Who, despite the fact the it is a phenomenal show… Besides that, Martha was only on the show for one season and her sister was only on a few episodes… In my mind, that’s still relatively unknown.

    • Sunstsnow81

      As a black female who is a fan of all things spy-fy and action oriented, I checked out of the show after two eps. It was just too campy, cute, and too predictable. I was a huge Alias fan and this show was a departure from what JJ does best. The supporting cast didn’t really help either. You can’t really say race was the main issue because its opening numbers were really strong. Most people, like myself, just got bored.

    • Actual reality

      White people watched shows with black leads in the past. The Jeffersons was a huge hit. The Cosby Show was a huge hit. ER had several black leads after the first four years. There are many more.

      THIS show just lacked something.

    • Attia

      @blaaake you are a racist idiot. That’s all.

    • @Monique

      I’m Hispanic and I didn’t go pulling the old white people don’t want to watch Hispanics on TV when Outlaw failed. Fact–The actors were awesome to look at. Fact–the Show sucked. Fact 2 is why the show failed. they tried to build it on good looking people with no story.

    • Dana

      So let me make sure I have this right… if a black person is successful (like Will Smith, Halle Berry, Barack Obama etc) it’s because they’re supremely talented, but if they’re not successful it’s because the rest of the world is racist?

      Just checking…

    • Jae

      Good God people! Why does EVERYTHING have to be at about race??? I am WHITE and I watched the showed and loved it!!! Stop carrying all the hate you have, open your eyes, and maybe you would see that not everyone is racist!

    • JFWilder

      Yeah..right…blame race again…the show was so bad even the blacks didn’t watch. I didn’t watch because of Abrams…plain and simple. I couldn’t care if they were oompa looma colored.

    • JFWilder

      Yeah..right…blame race again…the show was so bad even the blacks didn’t watch. I didn’t watch because of Abrams…plain and simple. I couldn’t care if they were oompa loompa colored.

      • Geronimo Jackson

        “the blacks”, really?

      • JFWilder

        What was I supposed to say? Colored? Negro? African-American? Make up your mind…just stating a fact that nobody, including blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Jews, Laplanders, Fijians, Samoans, Finnish, Norweigian, Russian, or any other Homo Sapien watched this show.

      • M

        “black people”…you freaking idiot

    • Wym

      I think for every person that didn’t watch it because the leads are black, there were two people that wanted to give it a chance because they are black. Good intentions can’t conquer a crap show.

    • Dave

      Sorry, but the racial argument fails any logical reasoning. The show started with pretty good ratings for a new series. If Americans had no interest in the show because the leads were black, they would have NEVER watched it in the first place! Jeez, people, think before you start spouting crap!!

    • Ha

      Yeah, seen that one coming. Okay, just stop with all that race BS. PLENTY of shows with all white lead characters get canceled all the time, and were not on here saying “It got canceled because black america won’t watch it”

      stfu already. We are all tired of the race cards getting played. Enough already!

  • Joseph

    I’m starting to love it & the leads & get the hang of it but it’s too late.

  • Jlitder

    I really liked the two main characters a lot, but there was just something missing in the storytelling that I couldn’t put my finger on. I hope the both go on to star in other projects , I would certainly watch either of them again!

    • Kvivik

      One of the big things that bothered me in the lack of storytelling was the fact that Steven and Samantha were both these amazing super spies, but neither had heard of the other. Leo had work with and knew both of them, Hoyt had studied all of their cases and methods, but they knew squat. And they continued to know squat because of that stupid ‘pact’ not to talk about their former careers. I’m sorry, but if you’re gonna tell me that this woman and this man are legendary super spies, prove it!!!! When Leo and Hoyt brought up a reference to an old caper…explain it so the audience and Samantha know what it’s about too.
      Good premise, good acting, BAD WRITING!!!!

      • whimsey

        Spot on, Kvivik. The story telling failed what might have developed into a great ensemble cast. I invested in the people, not the stories.

      • MelindaB

        Yeah, that was a stupid, silly plot point. Maybe knowledge of what they did and who they’d been up against might come in helpful in their current work.

      • Dave

        I think that’s more of a problem with an impatient audience. It seemed obvious to me that at some point they would find out about each other’s past. And I was looking forward to that. But so many people want instant gratification these days.

  • Lisa

    I tried. I really did. I wanted to support JJ and I wanted to support a network show with two black leads. But it never sustained my interest. I will keep watching until the bitter end, but it just hasn’t worked for me.

    • LisaMama

      I agree 100%! I tried to like ut, but stopped watching because it was boring, and the leads were TOO perfect in their millionaire mansion and fancy sports car – there was no struggle, no soul, no depth. Too breezy for me!

      • Anne

        I really tried too. I wanted to like it, but while the writing left much to be desired, I found the main characters’ lack of flaws and foibles to be the weakest link. What is there to root for in heroes with no quirks, sparks, or real humanity. Not to say they were monsters, just lacking in the dimension and warmth (and-my personal must- humor).

      • Carma

        You summed up why I couldn’t get into this show perfectly LisaMama

      • Morgaine

        I tried to like this show too – gave it plenty of chances – but it just lacks…….something. The acting was very – I don’t know – wooden? Not only the leads, but everybody surrounding them. As a parody (poking fun at themselves and their lifestyle) maybe it would be acceptable; but we were supposed to believe that hopping from Europe to Singapore took place in minutes, with nary a hair out of place. And as a married couple, it always seemed like they were ACTING as a married couple ACTING in a drama……make any sense? Beautiful people, beautiful settings – just lacking that certain something.

      • Angela

        Anne, I agree. The main characters were too perfect. No flaws or weaknesses. I kept watching in case the show was going to gradually add some depth, but out of the episodes aired, I really hadn’t seen any so far.

        And that’s basically my reason for not really getting into it. The characters. I didn’t care about them. They were okay, I didn’t dislike them -they weren’t interesting enough to me to invoke a reaction strong enough for dislike. They weren’t interesting enough to invoke any emotional response. And, I need that to really like a show.

    • Mels

      Agree with you 100%. I’ve watched every single episode from the start, but haven’t gotten to this week’s yet. The show is boring and it’s a struggle to get through – I only try because I love Abrams and I thought another spy show would be an instant huge success. The show moves pretty slowly and I find myself wanting to look at the guide to schedule other shows to record. The characters as written don’t seem to have a lot of heart. However, the two main actors are really good looking and I would love to see them in the future in better shows/films.

  • rey

    star power? alias had ZERO star power. the show turned garner into one.
    there was an underlying conspiracy as to why the blooms were brought back. no we will never know.

    • Actual reality

      But Alias has AWESOME commercials leading up to it. The commercials felt like movie trailers. Kinetic, loaded with action, Garner rocking different locks, then that tire squealing “DADDY?!” set up. That was a CLASSIC commercial set to intro a series. The commercials for this were boring as hell; the main one I saw basically had them waltzing. And I was also someone that checked out when they said that they were trying to make this “mainstream”.

  • darclyte

    Well Jeff, you avoided an obvious potential issue. Both leads are black. I’ve read comments on other blog posts both here and other places where people didn’t like the leads, not only because they were unknowns, but because they were unknown black actors. Perhaps had one or both been known their being black wouldn’t have been an issue (see Blair Underwood on The Event.) But unfortunately, the 2 leads in a action/dramedy that are unknown black actors just didn’t seem to resonate with enough people. My GF who is black said that none of her friends who are black watched the show, and if a show staring black actors can’t draw support from black viewers, it probably won’t survive and this didn’t. I certainly wish that wasn’t a factor, but everything I’ve read leads me to believe that it was. Maybe not the biggest factor, but a factor none the less. It’s 2010, the President is black, and yet apparently this is STILL an issue. Sad, really sad. BTW, the lead actress is smokin’ HOTT and I hope to see her on other shows. Her bra and panties scene in the pilot was OMG!!!

    • Henry

      FYI, Blair Underwood is actually Latino.

      • Evil Melvin!!

        Henry, get your head out of arse!! Underwood is black and NOT Spanish. BTW, if you meant to say it as a joke…it didn’t take!!!

      • Bounce

        the character he plays on Event is latino.

      • AT

        The character he plays on The Event is a black Cubano. Not quite the same thing…

    • sarah h

      Well Boris may have been unknown to YOU, but not to True Blood fans. Knowing ‘Eggs’ was in the cast made me want to catch it, but with an almost total lack of promotion I never did catch it on my TV or PVR. (Found the title to be fairly generic, as many new shows are this year, so they are harder to locate on the schedule). Anyway I wish you and that Monique would keep your racist crap to yourself. I really don’t care that you find the female lead in bra and panties to be “hot” and that you have a black girlfriend. Am I supposed to be impressed? Your own comments strike me as racist AND misogynistic. Lord knows we don’t need any more of those types of comments on here…

      • KRibbons

        What in the world?!?!?! That wasn’t Eggs!!!! Eggs was played by Mehcad Brooks (also from Desperate Housewives and Dollhouse).

      • imdbfactchecker

        Sorry Sarah… but Boris did not play Eggs. that was Mehcad Brooks (who by the way was cast in the also not long lasting My Generation this season).

        Boris – though shouldn’t be unknown to anyone. Remember him from Love & Basketball a decade ago? I also think he was on People’s Most Beautiful list a few times.

      • Sunstsnow81

        Hmmmm! Are you serious? I think you wrote this just to be funny. Both are fine but they look nothing alike. You probably need to add the season to your queue on Netflix or hit up Blockbuster.

      • jury’s out

        @sarah h.- How are darclyte’s comments racist? As for the charge of misogyny, there’s nothing wrong with a man appreciating a good looking woman. I notice that other posters have drooled over the scene where the female lead is in her underwear and you didn’t post such angry messages to them. You are not impressed that darclyte’s lady is black? Seems like that’s what’s pissing you off. He was just making a point from her perspective. Anyway, no one can 100% say that race wasn’t the reason some people didn’t watch. It might have been for some and for others it might have been that the show was boring or the leads didn’t have chemistry. I find it interesting that people mention the Cosby Show as proof that this isn’t a racial issue. Remember, that was in the eighties! In the seventies and eighties, it was common to have shows where the whole cast was black. Those shows were just as popular with blacks as with whites. Now you don’t see mainstream shows with all black casts.

  • James

    Racist America, hmmm? Yeah, nobody watched the Cosby Show or Oprah, either. I’m a Black man and an Abrams fan. This show just sucks. I was so disappointed.

    • Monique


      • Wow…

        So you are saying African-Americans can’t follow complicated shows? I think you need to check yourself, ma’am.

      • Em

        I’m thinking this Monique is a troll.

      • Mary

        I’m guessing you’ve never watched The Boondocks.

      • Henry

        Monica, that is honestly the DUMBEST statement ever made, and totally off base.

      • Kevin

        Oprah is watched primarily by women of many backgrounds. As for Cosby, he was mainstream since his debut in the 60’s on I Spy, and the Cosby show. His audience attracted mainstream families, and it didn’t have an agenda. I am black. And I found Undercovers to be a good show. So you should stop guessing about the failure of this show among racial lines that way.

      • Kevin

        Monique, I retract the last comment that I made to you. I understand the heart of your statement.

  • Scot B.

    I watch it, but I hardly remember it after it’s done. Nothing really happens in the show, aside from the disposable mission-of-the-week-that-isn’t-terribly-interesting.

  • Henry

    I watched it for about five episodes before just giving up. It didn’t have the addictive quality that Alias had and there was just never any indication of the direction the show was going. The episodes stayed away from serialized elements like a virus and when they did come up, it was only with a token line or two about it. The acting overall, was not very good. The show was supposed to go on the strength of the chemistry between the two leads, but it seemed like that chemistry was disappearing week after week. Steve Bloom seemed too cocky for his own good, Samantha had little personality of her own, and it just seemed odd that Hoyt would continue to man-crush on Steve. Hoyt was just annoying as a character a lot of the time. By the end of the show, it just seemed like the writers and everyone involved didn’t really care about what was happening on the show.

  • Suzie

    Hate to say it, but if I can’t pronounce an actor’s name, I’ll keep going. Boris Kodjoe is hunky and I hope he has a bright future, but that chick definitely needs a fan worthy name. Actors have been changing their names for centuries…probably back to the days of Greek Tragedies. All the power to her if she really thinks she’s “above” having to change her name, but she has about as much of a chance for fame as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    • Monique

      YOU ARE IGNORANT! so you can’t watch her because you can’t pronounce her name? HAVE A SOOK AND GTFO! NO ONE WANTS YOU HERE TROLL!

      • amylovesnewwave

        I would make a reply involving a pot and a kettle, but Monique the troll would probably call me a racist. By the way, I’m a white girl who loved this show and am sad to see it go. I initially started watching because the leads were black and I wanted to support that rarity, but stayed because I was hooked, pure and simple.

    • John

      If you can’t pronounce someone’s name, the problem is you, not the name, ignorama.

      • nathan temple

        all these black peoples are to hard to pronounce there parents must
        have some sense of humor. or maybe
        just hate there kids.

      • ginny

        so…you really honestly believe that Tom Mapother would have had the same box office draw as Tom Cruise? Really? (they are one and the same person)

  • darclyte

    Also Jeff, the sentence you have in the first paragraph that reads, “And yet despite a energetic pilot,” is incorrect. That should read, “And yet despite an energetic pilot.” It also probably shouldn’t start with the word “and.”

    • thin

      Yeah, agreed. There has been nothing “energetic” about any episode that has aired so far.

    • darclyte

      He fixed it, thanks Jeff!

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