Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pilot Thoughts: The Americans

There were a handful of mid-season shows that I meant to at least check out this past month, but the lack of (positive) buzz on most of them and me not having enough time in the day resulted in me not watching any of them with the exception of last week's thrilling The Americans on FX starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.

Russell and Rhys star as Soviet KGB spies who live in America as sleeper agents, posing as husband and wife and it was a treat seeing both play against type. Known more for their more mild-mannered roles in Felicity and Brothers & Sisters, I did worry a bit prior to seeing the pilot on how both would do, but I really had nothing to worry about. They duly impressed me with their handle on the accents, wigs, costumes, and fight sequences needed for their roles especially Rhys which really got to show off his skills in the first episode putting on more fake wigs than Russell. Russell did shoulder more of the emotional moments of the show especially with regards to her troubling past. The rest of the show itself is quite solid from showcasing the inherent tension of raising kids while working as a spy to highlighting the different mindsets of sleeper agents regarding their duty after assimilating to a culture so different from their own.

It's not a flawless show by any means though. The timeline is a bit of a distraction as some of the emotional beats between the two leads ring false especially for two people who've been together for nearly two decades and have two children. Plus having an FBI agent, played wonderfully by Noah Emmerich, move in next door felt a little contrived. These aren't fatal flaws however if the show keeps the rest of the writing tight and suspenseful as evidence by the final scene of the pilot. In fact, I'm really looking forward to more of that sort of suburban tension between Emmerich and his KGB neighbors.

If I had to loose describe the show, at least based on my impressions on the pilot, it's some sort of Alias-Homeland-Mad Men hybrid so if you're a fan of any of those in any capacity, I think you owe it to yourself to check this show out. I mention Mad Men mostly because I think the period aspects of The Americans is nicely well done with a pay phone here, mommy jeans there, and of course Fleetwood Mac and Phil Collins playlist. In conclusion, I'm in for the rest of the season, especially with the hopes of seeing Margo Martindale down the line. B+

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