Earlier this evening, I checked out a romantic drama film on Netflix called Beyond the Lights. It starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker as emerging lovers amidst Mbatha-Raw’s character (Noni) near suicide attempt. It wasn’t as good a storyline as Belle but it was nonetheless a sterling performance by my #2 celebrity crush in a role that she probably should’ve passed on. While her performance was solid, I don’t this film did much to showcase her awesomeness as an actress to the American public. Then again, that’s the thing here: not really having a chance to see the very best of someone. I don’t think Mbatha-Raw’s best work was even in film but rather in her brief American television work. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Undercovers TV series.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the show when it premiered in the Fall of 2010 on NBC. I had seen promos on NBC for the show throughout the summer so I figured I would check it out. It had Gerald McRaney from Promised Land and Boris Kodjoe from the Soul Food TV series in a J.J. Abrams production. I didn’t have much to lose in checking it out.
What it meant to me then? I really liked the show. It had a James Bond feel to it with the high-tech gadgets and the international missions. But it also had a bit of a mellow, romantic feel with the marriage dynamic between Steven (Kodjoe) and Samantha (Mbatha-Raw). Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Gugu wore the lingerie very well in the more spicier scenes. That alone was probably worth the extra $10 I paid Comcast for DVR service at the time. Even more, it was a primetime series on major network television featuring two black actors as the leads. That actually mattered to me. Undercovers, alongside the debuting Law & Order: Los Angeles, made Wednesday evenings an NBC night for me. With Wednesday Bible study across the street from Joint Base Andrews ending around 7:15pm, I was a bit of a hurried driver all the way down MD-5/US-301 to my apartment in Waldorf ahead of the 8pm show start.
What it means to me now? Unfortunately, for me, Undercovers got cancelled later in the Fall of 2010, with the final episodes airing in late December. I was saddened by it. I felt that NBC didn’t afford the show an opportunity for the storyline to crystallize. I never really got a firm idea why McRaney’s character (Shaw) brought the Blooms back out of retirement. The cancellation of Undercovers was the beginning of the end of my fallout with NBC in terms of primetime television viewing. The ending of Law & Order: Criminal Intent as well as the cancellations of Law & Order: Los Angeles and Chase during the 2010-11 network television season moved me to boycott the channel. With the exception of two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that I viewed in February 2013 during my assignment in South Korea, I haven’t watched the channel for any reason other than Sunday Night Football and the Olympics.