Monday, April 29, 2013
Graceland (pilot episode)
USA Network's summer television show "Graceland" airs June 6, but viewers can watch the pilot episode on VOD (Video on Demand) from April 29 to May 12. The series follows a group of undercover FBI, DEA, and customs agents who live under one roof in Southern California. Their house, confiscated from a drug dealer and Elivs fan, is an expansive beachfront home dubbed Graceland.
Brand new agent Mike Warren's (Aaron Tveit) abrupt arrival initially causes some tension. He is eager to be trained by the legendary Agent Briggs (Daniel Sunjata). Though very green, Mike's innovation and book-smarts impress the others. He wonders how the once driven Briggs turned into a surfer dude, and Briggs privately puzzles over why Mike was suddenly sent to Graceland, against his request. Other house members include the easygoing Johnny (Manny Montana), and Dale (Brandon Jay McLaren), the only customs agent.
Unfortunately, the heavy-handed writing is mostly expository. The creators appear to know as much about undercover life as I do, which isn't good. The plot is more diverting than intense, and the straightforward dialogue doesn't crackle.
What works is an engaging sense of camaraderie between these young agents. The actors do what they can to make their characters believable. Also welcome is the diversity. Mike is the only white male dwelling in the house, and the two women, Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) and Lauren (Scottie Thompson), are more than just token females. The flirtatious and competent Charlie is especially appealing, and Dale.
In the end, in spite of the lackluster writing, the cast of characters and their relationships indicate that "Graceland" has potential.