Five ways to make Piper Perabo’s “Covert Affairs” better

Covert Affairs is a fun enough show. Piper Perabo is unquestionably winsome. The action is pretty solid. The plots are — OK, the plots are utterly ridiculous. Still in theory the show has all the components to make me want to snuggle on the couch and go steady: strong female leads, zippy action sequences and spy thriller twists. So it’s true love, right?

Well, sort of. While I’ve basically enjoyed the fledgling CIA series, there are several things that could be improved. It’s just missing that something something. A few suggestions on how to find it:

1) Stop making Piper run around in sky-high Louboutins.

She is a spy. Spies were sensible shoes. The first thing Angelina Jolie did when she went on the lam from the CIA is ditch the heels. And while we have seen Piper’s Agent Annie Walker shed her shoes, the fact that she goes out on covert operations wearing them in the first place makes me want to gnash my teeth and throw a pair of sneakers at my TV. Also, if she didn’t have to wear crazy heels maybe Piper wouldn’t have hurt her knee in an on-set accident last week. Protect the talent, people.

2) Punch up the writing.

Just because your show has action doesn’t mean you can scrimp on the words. The dialog in Covert Affairs can be like a two-by-four — wooden and stiff. Too many lines hang out there like words on a page instead of real, human dialog: “The woman who knows and looks away is an urban myth.” “Since when did you start giving inspirational speeches?” “Supermom is not an easy job.” Read the lines out loud before you make your actors read them out loud. If they sound like those lines above, start over.

3) Work on the chemistry.

A show like Rizzoli & Isles works because, even though the writing isn’t Shakespeare, the chemistry between its leads is electric. Gay, and electric. But in Covert Affairs the chemistry just isn’t there. Annie and Auggie (Christopher Gorham) have banter, but it feels surface. Annie and supposed future love interest Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) might as well be strangers on an elevator.

4) Add more women.

Sure we’ve got Piper, and every episode Kari Matchett will cross her arms and scowl as she heads up the Domestic Protection Division. And then we get a couple seconds with Anne Dudek as Annie’s sister. But Piper needs to be able to play off another woman consistently. Perhaps give her a female friend at the CIA. Or a rival female super spy. In movies like Imagine Me & You, Lost and Delirious — heck, even Coyote Ugly — Piper has played well and convincingly with other female stars.

(Yes, that’s My Girl star Anna Chlumsky in an upcoming episode. Is it just me, or did she grow up to be Anna Paquin?)

5) When all else fails, call Lena Headey.

Really, she fixes everything — especially when combined with Piper.

So, there you have it; a few fool-proof fixes. Since the show has already been renewed by USA for a second season, they’ll have plenty of time to implement them.

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