Undercovers Gets Burned by NBC

Don't worry, J.J. Abrams. Even I have bad days. NBC has decided not to extend the order for Abrams' new drama Undercovers after a disappointing start to its debut season.

The show will eventually burn off all its 13 episodes, but only the next three episodes will air in the show's current Wednesday-at-8:00pm timeslot. After that, it's anyone's guess when the final batch of episodes will air (Saturday nights seem to be a popular day to finish off non-returning series). The choice makes Undercovers only the second NBC show to fall victim to the axe this season, getting thrown onto the garbage heap alongside Outlaw, which didn't last long at all.

With a likable cast, a big name like Abrams behind it, and a super-spy storyline, where did Undercovers go wrong? It seems as though NBC was more in love with the idea of the show and J.J. Abrams' name than it was with making it a good series. Undercovers never really found its footing, wavering back and forth between being way too light and trying to be a legitimate spy drama. A spy show should be full of of spy technology, tactical scheming, and cat-and-mouse pursuits. Undercovers was devoid of all of that.

One thing it did do right was cast two black leads in Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a rare feat for primetime TV, particularly in drama category, which usually relegates minorities to the background. It's just unfortunate the show couldn't figure itself out.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Dec 30, 2010
I liked the show. I really thought that I'd hate it at first. I DVR'd a couple of eps and watched them back to back. I was pleasantly surprised that they were more interesting than the professional critics said. And much better than the bland and generic comments listed below complained about. Who cares that the accents were a tad off? Most of us viewers can't tell anyway. The show wasn't perfect but it was a long way from being boing. It had a nice balance between serious and whimsy. The dialog wasn't poor, it's TV people. Shakespeare it's NOT! Every episode was getting better as long as the Blooms stopped their bickering with each other. The writers were starting to understand the direction they wanted the plot and story to go. I liked the subplot with the Catering business and the sister. I've said it before, NBC cancels more series than any other network or cable company. They are floundering. They chose reality shows as replacements. They get preference because they are cheaper to produce -- they are riff with unimaginative events for unimaginative persons. There's a good reason why NBC is going broke (OK, I rely on the rumor mills for most of my info), they haven't had a huge hit in a long time. Community? Maybe....But it's no Seinfeld.
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Dec 17, 2010
I actually liked the show. And the people that are saying they "never watched one episode because the show sucks", how would they know if they've never watched it?? Besides the obvious (it being cancelled).
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Nov 10, 2010
It was on my DVR but the previews never grabbed me and it went unwatched.
It is now deleted. Better luck next time JJ.
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Nov 08, 2010
that's too bad it was getting better
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Nov 08, 2010
Tho be honest, I really wanted to like this show and I started "putting up with it" over the last few episodes hoping it would improve. Loved the leads, but the dialogue they had to spit out was and petty relationship squabbles was a bit much to take. Likewise the story lines were among the most cliched aired on tv for quite some time. I vowed after last weeks catastrophe of an episode to give up and it seems the powers that be were also over the inanities.
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Nov 07, 2010
I hear you about the misrepresentation of, for example, Madrid. Despite being one of my favorite shows, Alias had that a lot too. They'd speak Dutch and it would sound awful. I don't expect a flawless pronunciation or anything, but c'mon. Of course, Jennifer Garner did it perfectly. She got it aaaalmost right. Anyhoo, back to Undercovers. Oh that's right. I've never seen it. Moot.
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Nov 07, 2010
this is pretty typical for NBC. JJ Abrams should have gone to another network.
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Nov 07, 2010
Yip, it was pretty bland and boring with some annoying supporting cast. Another article on tv.com put it best - Wasn't funny enough when it tried to be funny and wasn't serious enough when it tried to be serious - or something to that effect.....I'm paraphrasing.
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Nov 07, 2010
I'm really not surprised at all with this news. The article NAILED the problem...this show was caught in a stupid place between being a spy show BUT being way too light-hearted. On one side you wanted the action/spy stuff which failed due to the silly humor (which for me fell to lame levels) or if you liked the silliness you were caught off guard by the attempts for the show to be serious.

I honestly wish they would've made this a serious spy/action show; it would've been nice to see a show with two upcoming stars (and the rare situation of black lead actors) actually make it. I can't believe they even gave the idea a green light to begin with.

It was indeed a horrible version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith
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Nov 06, 2010
Oh,wow. That's just terrible. I remeber hearing about this show in the movie theatere when I went to see Lottery Ticket. Such a shame.
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Nov 06, 2010
I really wanted to support this show. I watched even though I found the supporting character super annoying and Sam the old flame slightly less than annoying. I told myself maybe it will get better. I hadn't got to the point of cancelling my series recording like I did with The Event but I came very close. Now the inevitable is happening. I had such high hopes in the beginning. I still don't know how JJ could have gotten it so wrong! :-(
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Nov 06, 2010
i do love this show but it certainly does have its follies
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Nov 06, 2010
as many have stated, not a big surprise that it didn't make it. The lead actors were trying to be so polished and sophisticated and it didn't work for me.
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Nov 06, 2010
I like the actors the fact that the actress is a tad too young for the role and the couple looks like they could be siblings. But that wasn't the problem...their relationship was nauseating, just unnecessarily sweet and as the article says, no intrigue. I never found myself looking for a resolution to the episodes. A bit of a yawn.
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Nov 06, 2010
They also got their french quite wrong. In episode 5, she's supposed to be a french canadian, though I'm a french canadian and I understood nothing of what she said. I had to read the subtitles. That was disappointing.
The show was fun to watch, but I certainly understand why nobody watches it.
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Nov 05, 2010
Not a surprise. This was just a low budget, no acting talent, version of Mr & Mrs Smith.
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Nov 05, 2010
I am not shocked.
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Nov 05, 2010
I liked the show but I could also see too many holes in the writing. I will try to catch all the episodes but I won't really miss it. Chuck is far better show.

And it seems that Mr. Surette never watched UPN. Blacks aren't that much of a minority on TV anymore. I think the more significant show in that regard is Hawaii 5-0 which has a fairly significant Asian representation.
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Nov 05, 2010
I'm not surprised. Never looked promising to begin with. Never bothered to watch even 1 episode.
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Nov 05, 2010
Far too average.
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Nov 05, 2010
boring show. so boring
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Nov 05, 2010
It was an OK show, I didnt overly enjoy it and I wont actually miss it. As was said earlier, it needed to have something extra, something to hit the mark, without that it was a sub standard light hearted spy drama.

I'm gonna miss Outlaw.
And Lonestar, that series (can you call 2 episodes a series?) had so much potential!)
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Nov 05, 2010
Good news!! Because their portrait of Spain was awful, so I decided from the beginning that I wouldn't be watching the series.
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Nov 05, 2010
pilot was a load of s**t, and Madrid is a lovely first class town, instead we saw something like dunnno-where-latin depressed areas. episode was absolutely awful, plot was boring, spanish accent unbelievable... wtf??? O_O i couldnt believe my eyes and ears! jj u dont know european stuff at all!!! study and read!!!
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Pi
Nov 05, 2010
I was really excited for this show but it was one of the worst serial dramas I've ever seen in my life. The biggest disappointment of the year by far. It was simply unwatchable it was so horrid in every regard. The writing was absolutely atrocious - perhaps the worst I've ever seen from a network serial. Everything about the show was rotten to the core, and this is from a big Abrams fan. It really is too bad as the idea had potential and, while I hadn't really thought about it until now, it WAS a refreshing change to see two strong minority leads on a network show. Too bad the show turned out to be a big festering steaming pile. What was Abrams thinking? Did he even have anything to do with this dumpster fire? I kept giving it chance after chance to improve since I hate to give up on a show too soon, but each subsequent episode just became more irritating to watch. A shame.....
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Nov 05, 2010
I wasn't impressed with its pilot.
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Nov 05, 2010
Not surprised, the storyline was far too weak and not very compelling.
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Nov 05, 2010
have jj abrams make the cast crash on a mysterious island then i will watch it
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Nov 05, 2010
Wasn't a big fan of the show but Gugu Mbatha-Raw is beautiful, I wish they could put her on another series.
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Nov 05, 2010
@LadyInque But when spies get fired it's called being burned. It's a joke see.
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Nov 05, 2010
well said Tim, who knows when we will see two good looking, good actors in lead roles on a big four network like this. Hell you can rarely see that being done on cable. I miss the 70's and 80's where television seem to have more african american roles (when it was popular to exploite) now it is the gays turn and soon they will die down whenever the subject becomes less taboo.
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Nov 05, 2010
i understand why it got cancel but the ratings wasnt bad..i enjoy the show not b/c it had a good black cast(even do the main actors boris and gugu are from europe)but i enjoy the writng and it show blacks in a good light...:( i hate u nbc(it better end well b/c if not my heart will find a new stations)u cancel it i hope u give it a final...
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Nov 05, 2010
To say the writing was mundane,fluffy, inane, too lightweight is just being nice!
i couldnt seat through a single episode without wondering why i was wasting my time.
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Nov 05, 2010
Kinda thought that this was gonna happen.
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Nov 05, 2010
"Shows don't get burned, they get axed" :D :D
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Nov 05, 2010
I saw this coming a mile away. Watch Nikita it's way better.
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Nov 05, 2010
It never really was that good!
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Nov 05, 2010
Shame, but hey, now Community can move to Wednesday nights.
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Nov 05, 2010
Never watched it /:
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Nov 04, 2010
yea really disappointed
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Nov 04, 2010
Dear NBC, since "outsourced" is getting a stupid full season, put P&R and Community in this hour! Come on...you know you want to!
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Nov 04, 2010
I would have to disagree and say it was the casting. Not until last night's episode did they (Boris and Gugu) really show they could make it work. And that, as you can see is a bit too late. I'm going to watch the rest of the shows, I enjoy it but hey when you're on NBC its tough to make anything work.
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Nov 04, 2010
I stopped watching about the third episode when they were still rehashing the same things they did in the first. Why have their handler one minute talking about how wonderful they are and how they are some sort of super team and the next complaining that they are has been, out of touch agents? The idea was fine, but writing is everything. Even the best actors can't do much with junk. I didn't care enough to stick around and find out the backstory.
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Nov 04, 2010
How disappointing. I actually like(d) the show. My only real complaint was that their "real life" never really came into play, for good or bad. One can only really fly off to "The Hotel" so many times before somebody starts asking questions.
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Nov 04, 2010
I'm not surprised this didn't get more, but I'm disappointed it didn't. this was one of the best shows NBC has. the problem is that people hear "JJ Abrams" and "spy" together and imediately think Alias and it was nothing like Alias. I think they went too slow and couldn't find their identity, but there's obviously some sort of mythology in the background as to why they reactivated the Blooms, which was probably going to be revealed in episode 13 as part of the cliffhanger.. now we'll never know
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Nov 04, 2010
Yeah, I'm not shocked.
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Nov 04, 2010
Exactly. Great idea for a show, great cast, poorly executed.
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Nov 04, 2010
Not very surprising.
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