Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Illusive Nature of Some Good UST

I've discovered a new show this summer. It's a new show to everyone and so I've jumped on board at the beginning, but I hope a lot of people like it enough that it goes on for many many season. The show is Covert Affairs and it airs on Tuesday nights on the USA network. It's a lot like my other favorite USA show, Burn Notice, with great characters, a premise I like, and is overall, I find, very enjoyable.

The show follows new CIA operative Annie Walker. Played by the very pretty Piper Perabo, Annie has just graduated from CIA training on The Farm and is now working in the Domestic Protection Department, which I have to assume is a completely fictional division of the CIA. Ostensibly, the DPD handles cases in which people of CIA interest (read: bad guys, terrorists, arms dealers, spies from enemy countries, etc.) threaten the US directly. Whatever. I'm good with just keeping it at Annie is a new spy.

What keeps CA from being Alias 2.0 is Annie's rookie status. She's learning on the job, and it's fun to watch her fumble around a bit. Piper wears an almost perpetual look of amazement and questioning which gives Annie an additional air of confusion and niavete. But she's smart and quick and manages to get out of most jams by using her brains and her training.

Honestly, though, what keeps me waiting anxiously for Tuesday nights in Christopher Gorham's exquisite character, Auggie Anderson. I was not an Ugly Betty fan, nor did I watch Kyle 2.0, so Chris Gorham is a new find for me. He's beyond adorable, and he's my new TV crush.

Auggie is the coolest of the cool characters. First of all, he's blind. There's some debate on how this happened - whether Auggie was a Special Forces soldier or a CIA operative when he was injured on a mission in Iraq. Either way, he's been blinded and so is no longer able to be out in the field, a limitation that Auggie does not appreciate and is fighting against vehemently. Still, Auggie's blindness is only one tiny aspect of his personality. It does not define him any more than a person's brown hair or 5' 6" height defines them. He's a ladies man, very funny and insanely smart. Love him.

Auggie works in the tech support department of the DPD. He's the gadget guy, the computer whiz and the old pro who is helping Annie navigate her way through the office politics of the CIA as well as helping her keep her wits about her when she's out in the field. From day one, the two have been throwing off sparks like fireworks. The chemistry between Auggie and Annie (and actors Piper and Christopher) is smoking, and I've already started construction on the Good 'Ship A/A.

Except TPTB have given Annie some other romantic prospects. As part of her backstory, Annie had a three week affair with a mystery man named Ben Mercer whom she fell very much in love with before he just disappeared. In fact, it was this event that pushed her into joining the CIA. Mercer is still in the picture, we viewers just don't know exactly in what capacity yet. We do know that he showed up once in the nick of time to keep Annie from being shot in the head, but Annie didn't know it was Ben who saved her.

Too, TPTB have stocked the DPD with another potential Annie Love Interest in the form of Jai Wilcox (played by sexy Sendhil Ramamurthy). Jai has been instructed by Annie's bosses to get close to her, ostensibly because of Annie's history with Ben Mercer. In this week's episode, Jai and Annie began to flirt just the tiniest bit and look to become good friends at the very least.

Still, of the three men, Auggie, Ben and Jai, I argue that the most authentic attraction is between Annie and Auggie by far. I have absolutely no idea how this show will play out and who, if anyone, Annie will ultimate end up with. But anything short of Auggie and Annie will feel forced to me.

Which leads to my title, the presence of major UST - whether intentional on the part of the writers or not - is a pretty powerful thing. I don't know if it's the Piper/Christopher connection at work or if the actors are just very good, but I don't think you can fake that kind of thing.  You've either got it or you don't. It either works or it doesn't.

A lot of other shows have tried to create the UST and have missed the mark. The Castle/Beckett pairing on Castle is a perfect example. I like both characters and enjoy the show. But I sense absolutely no chemistry, not a single iota of UST between Castle and Beckett (or, conversely, actors Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic). I know intellectually that we are supposed to want these two to get together, but honestly, I don't care. There's nothing there that I can see between them.

Same thing with Michael and Fiona on Burn Notice. I've always loved Michael and over the course of four seasons have even come to like Fiona. But there is simply no chemistry between them. Sure, they've had some sexy scenes together. And you can definitely tell they really care about each other. But something is missing, some inexplicable force that just means they simply must be together. Again, it could be a lack of chemistry between Jeffery Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar.

Ditto Dr. Hank Lawson and Jill Casey from Royal Pains. The two were supposed to be really hot for each other, but I got nothing from them. I think the show's writers noticed the lack of chemistry because this season they've introduced a new love interest for Dr. Hank in fellow doctor Emily Peck. Perhaps they are thinking some kind of love triangle might fill in whatever it is that's missing, but I would argue that actors Mark Feuerstein and Jill Flint just don't have the necessary chemistry. The couple that DOES have the chemistry is Evan Lawson (Paolo Costanzo) and Divya Katdare (Reshma Shetty). Their relationship has enough UST for the entire show.

Another fledgling show that I've been liking a lot also has a pairing that works. The growing heat between homicide detective Jim Longworth and medical student Callie Cargill on The Glades is full of all sorts of UST. It just works.

So, I'm going to keep tuning in to Covert Affairs and appreciate every step on the road to Annie and Auggie finally resolving some of that UST. Because truly, stuff like that is lightning in a bottle.


Anonymous said...

If you watched the 1st season you would have seen the chemistry on Castle. It was the best in decades and never before seen on the small screen. The writers and producers dialed it back big time in the 2nd season. If they hadn't there was no way to keep them out of the sack.

Lynn M said...

Do you think so? I don't know. I've watched Castle from the beginning because I'm a Nathon Fillion fan big time, but I've just never gotten any chemistry between Castle and Beckett. I like the show and the characters but I just don't care if they ever get together or not, which is how I personally gauge the UST level. But it's becoming pretty clear that everyone has a different viewpoint on that. I know a lot of people do think Castle and Beckett are a hot couple.