Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Monday, September 20, 2010


by Brian Holcomb

J.J. Abrams certainly knows how to open a series with a bang. Both Alias and Lost plunged viewers immediately into vast, labyrinthine worlds driven by smart and resourceful protagonists. While the content is mostly recycled classic television, the Abrams formula shifts traditional storytelling into hyperdrive. This has largely been the key to his success; he doesn't toss the storytelling baby out with the bathwater in order to appeal to modern audiences. Aristotle would have to catch up, but he would eventually recognize that all six of his elements of drama are still present; they're just a bit more emphatic and caffeinated than usual.

The premiere episode of Abrams's stylish and very well produced new series Undercovers is definitely the house blend. The pace is accelerated, the overlapping dialogue is read at speeds unheard of since His Girl Friday, the action is quite large-scale for TV, and the music is loud and brassy. Par for Abrams, the characters are all introduced in swift, broad strokes that economically define them enough to propel the initial hour of adventure.

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