Bourne Meets Plame in 'Covert Affairs'

TV Documentary:

‘Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided’

This five-part series – another winner from the PBS American Experience franchise — skillfully interweaves the national conflict over slavery that became The Civil War with the trials and tribulations of President Lincoln and his First Lady. Most history buffs already know that great conflict well. But tracing it alongside the union between Lincoln the Western states lawyer with Mary Todd as both progressed brings greater depth and new nuances to the larger story.

And the emotional and psychological trials of both Lincolns — depression for him, and for her a melancholy, mania and final madness — rounds out our understanding of these looming historical figures.

TV Series: ‘Covert Affairs’

I expected to dislike this new show on the USA Network about a sexy CIA operative from its previews. But then one rather bored night I watched the first three episodes via On Demand and found myself hooked. Yeah, it has the usual TV series flaws of using good-looking actors and actresses and way oversimplifying intelligence operations and global geopolitics. But hey, it’s a TV show made to entertain. And how many other series can you name that featured a major character that is blind? In the promos USA runs they quote a New York Post critic calling star Piper Perabo “the female Jason Bourne,” but her character might be better tagged in such terms as Valerie Plame meets James Bond. Light and breezy as it may inappropriately be on such heavy matters as spying and the American intelligence apparatus, the show has its charms and they aren’t all shallow. Its promos quote another critic calling “Covert Affairs” as last “summer’s guilty pleasure,” and, yeah, it’s been that for me.

TV Series: ‘Outcasts’

It’s a damned shame that this BBC series seen here on BBC America has but one season, as its tale of colonists escaping an Earth plagued by nuclear war and a wrecked environment in 2060 to the planet of Carpathia only began to really sizzle by its eighth and final episode. But it’s still well worth watching for the way it shows how mankind even its quest to start over brings human our issues along while also facing the challenges of a new planetary home. And maybe pondering what could have been with this uncommonly dark and chilling TV series.

Rob Patterson is an entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. Email orca@prismnet.com.

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2011


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