Sometimes I’m amazed at how long it takes shows to hit the air after they’re greenlit, and that the process can drag way the hell on and I still missed that the show was coming. Case in point–Agent X. No clue, nowhere on my radar, until I happened to be scanning TNT listings to set my DVR for Legends and I was intrigued to see Sharon Stone attached to a series with Gerald McRaney and Jeff Hephner. I knew nothing about it or what to expect and went into cold. Loved it. Happily loved it because it’s the closest thing I’ve come across in years that taps the same vibe that I loved about Human Target.
I know Hephner from Hellcats (which I will bitch about forever not being on DVD–MAYBE it’ll get there now that iZombie has put Aly Michalka back on the CW). I know he did a stint on Chicago Fire, but IÂ have neverÂ seen an episode of that so I can’t weigh in there. The series is a National Treasure-esque (+ Sleepy Hollow Twistory) yarn about the Vice President (Natalie Maccabee, played by Stone) actually being the handler of a secret agent tasked with protecting and serving theÂ country’s foreign and domestic interests.
This isÂ at the behest of an article in the Constitution that only appears on the original document housed in a secret lair beneath her residence (just go with it, it’s fun). She discovers this the night she’s sworn in, when she also meets her houseman, and co-handler, Malcolm Millar, a pitch-perfect McRaney, who maintains certain formalities about running her home that he lets slip a bit when they’re running their agent.
That agent isÂ John Case (Hephner) a former special ops soldier recruited from the brink of a beating death in some far off secret prison. Fast forward a few years and he’s Agent X. The former VP, Thomas Eckhart (John Shea) is now the POTUS, and when Natalie tries to maybe sort of ask him what the hell she’s fallen into, he tells her that what happens in her home is her business. Then she’s summoned by Chief Justice Caleb Thorne (James Earl Jones, who is having a ball), who tells her heÂ knows, too, but she’s on her own now, and she really, really can’t discuss it with anyone, especially the POTUS, toÂ maintain plausible deniability.
Case is an interesting mix–he’s an everyman not unlike Jason Bourne (which makes total sense because the series is the brainchild of W. Blake Herron, who was one of the writers on The Bourne Identity‘s screenplay). Case presents like a friendly bank manager or your neighbor who works as a general contractor until he lets you know he can actually break you in half. Hephner is fantastic as a guy who is super mild-mannered most of the time, and he’s alsoÂ fairly unruffled when he’s in efficient killingÂ mode.
There’s a scene before he meets Natalie where he’s reviewing the accident footage of her husband’s death back when she was a senator, and I think that will be revisited some way–either he knew the husband, or did something that led to the accident, or the husband was the previous agent, or he’s jut sort of crushing on her. I don’t know yet, but it adds an emotional layer to his character.
Jamey Sheridan is FBI Director Edwin Stanton, whose daughter is kidnapped and rescued by Case. She keeps Case’s identity hidden from her dad through a series of cyber MacGuffins, but I’m sure that’ll come back around at some point.
The wrinkle inÂ Agent X’sÂ ointment, or his Moriarty, is Olga (Olga Fonda), an Eastern European spyÂ who comes up against him a few times but walks away at the end of the first two hours, so we’ll see her again. They have an interesting banter. Their meet cute is beating the crap out of each other while she’s trussed up in lingerie, and later on they’re paired as begrudging allies.
Their signature exchange will be “You’re late” and “You’re ungrateful.” which is kind of hilariously appropriateÂ when he’s always saving her ass even though she’s lethal. She tells him out of the gate that she has him figured out because he has soft eyes–that he wasn’t always a killer. And as an added bonus for Hell on Wheels fan, the big big bad that Olga will be dodging is played by Andrew Howard,Â who playsÂ Johnny SheaÂ on the AMC western.
Stone is great in the role, and I love that she’s on a series, and she’s got a hand behind the scenes as the Executive Producer. She and McRaney are terrific as she tries to loosen him up a little and he realizes she’s going to test the watersÂ on how they run their operation, and that she’s not above a little field work herself. I love her as a woman who wasn’t quiet sure what she was getting into as the VP but is thrilled at the reality of the job. When she chats with a little girl who tells her that her dad says the VP doesn’t really do anything, she laughs and tells her to tell her daddy he’s going to be audited.
I seriously had no idea this was coming, and it’s intriguing that it ended up on TNT, which is trying to figure out its lineup between super serious shows like Murder in the First and PublicÂ Morals and the fun of The Librarians (and Leverage, RIP).
I also justÂ learned it cancelled the summer series Proof, which was an esoteric take on life, death, and the afterlife, produced by Kyra Sedgwick. I’m surprised they didn’t pick that back up, but it skewed older (as I’m pretty sure Major Crimes does).Â AlthoughÂ CBS has proven there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I guess that’s not where TNT wants to be.
I don’t know who their target is with this. It’s a comedy/dramaÂ action series with a fair dose of PG violence, anchored by a strong trio, all over 40, and one who is a woman. I’m 44 and watch a wide range of shows that skew younger and olderÂ and IÂ enjoyed the hell out of it. It’sÂ popcorn TVÂ that hints at being something more, and is a perfectÂ hour for Sunday nights when you’re not quite ready to turn your workÂ brain back on. The premiere was two hours, there are 10 total this season, so only eight left. I’m so in.
Agent X airs at 9/8c Sundays on TNT.Â The pilot is online if you missed it. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes with Sharon Stone.
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