Agent X is TNT’s contribution to the action genre, and a new show as of early November. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing show runner William Blake Herron (The Bourne Identity) and star Jeff Hephner (Chigaco Fire) at New York Comic Con where I promised to give the show a shot.
The legendary Sharon Stone plays Vice President Natalie Maccabee, who on inauguration day learns that at her disposal is a James Bond-ish secret agent named John Case who assists with “crisis management.” In other words, they keep the nation safe from the shadows in a way altogether separate from other agencies that do something similar.
The series follows the stories of Maccabee and Case as they embark on a new adventure every week. There’s always someone in danger somewhere, and Agent X is there to help.
It is not necessarily the strongest of series, as review after review has pointed out. However, I’d like to look at Agent X from a different angle. It is no surprise we’re living in a world of phenomenal television. We’re spoiled. I’m spoiled. So when a new show comes along and doesn’t live up to the standards of other shows I watch, I have a tendency to scoff and look away. Yet in doing so, I miss out on the fun of television, because while Agent X may not be a college thesis waiting to happen, it has a lot going for it in terms of entertainment that I think have been woefully overlooked.
So, I’m bringing everyone the top five reasons why they should be watching TNT’s Agent X.
5. The story lines are over the top
I don’t know about you, but I think following the story of a girl who filled a rocket full of a killer virus because the government killed her parents, intending to blast it at the end of the President’s speech is a great way to spend a Sunday night. Is it logical? Not really. Plausible? Eh, maybe, truth is stranger than fiction after all. However, at the end of the day it is entertaining, no doubt about it. That is one of the best things about Agent X. No matter what topic they’re covering, the story never fails to be entertaining as it pushes audiences to suspend disbelief and play along.
Let’s be real, if the story lines weren’t a bit over the top, I don’t think the show would work quite as well as it does. The real world of espionage, I imagine (contrary to popular belief I’m not actually a spy), is not really a pretty one. I wouldn’t really want to explore the life of a real Agent X and the horrible decisions he’d have to face. The reality wouldn’t be fun, and it definitely wouldn’t make good television. Instead, the action genre often calls for stories to push boundaries, and Agent X does so on a grand scale.
4. The show makes you fall in love with the characters
I often subscribe to a show because of the characters, above all else. You could give me a well written story line and gorgeous shots, but if the characters fall flat then odds are I won’t be watching for long. Agent X, like most successful shows, boasts a great cast of characters who are relatable and likable. Sharon Stone’s Vice President Maccabee has shown herself to be level headed, empathetic, and willing to take risks to protect individuals as well as Americans as a whole. John Case is a man with a past, but not as dark or mysterious as characters from other shows in a similar position. He is, ultimately, a good man who does his job diligently, and well.
Malcolm, the long-suffering steward, does his best to protect those he cares about without overstepping the bounds of his job. Even the President seems to be relatively free of corruption, with a good heart set on doing what’s right by the American people. The cast doesn’t capitalize on dark and stormy, nor does it try to excuse corruption. Rather, the characters are all essentially good people who are doing what they can to protect the world around them. It is rare to find an ensemble quite as likable as the Agent X crew.
3. The cast is unbeatable
Of course, what are characters, without the wonderful faces that play them? Without Sharon Stone’s formidable disposition, Jeff Hephner’s easy smile and sharp wit, Olga Fonda’s talent for being the personification of deadly beauty, and Gerald McRaney’s stoic yet warm aura, the characters would lack the depth necessary to make them likable and relatable. The minds behind the show certainly chose their cast well, and each member of it brings something important to the episodes they’re in.
What really sets the cast apart, though, is not their acting abilities (which are on point), but how personable they are and how much they love their own show. Live tweeting is a pretty common thing now, but it is rare to find a cast that sticks around to live tweet every showing every week, whenever possible. It is rarer still to find a cast that actively interacts with all of their fans, to a level that seems almost unreal. It is easy to become more dedicated to a show when the cast are all obviously “in it to win it.”
2. It doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t
Agent X is an over-the-top action show, period. End the sentence. I love a show that doesn’t pretend it is something it really isn’t. This is not a political drama with a bit of action thrown in. It isn’t a medical drama that tries to also take on the attributes of a soap opera. It isn’t a comedy with explosions. Agent X promises fans an “American James Bond,” and it delivers. Every single week, the show delivers exactly that, and everything else that comes with it. The show runner, the cast, and the writers all commit to producing a weekly show that stays true to the action genre, and they nail it.
The stories are great, so are the characters, but at the end of the day I watch Agent X because I want to watch sick action sequences and go on a wild adventure before I go to bed on a Sunday night. Agent X does exactly that.
1. The show is a fun ride
Finally, as it was alluded to earlier, the primary reason folks should watch this show is simply because it is fun. Agent X is a perfect example of the action genre, because it puts the focus on high stake missions requiring a lot of physicality and a sense of adventure. It tickles the senses as it takes audiences on a journey with John Case every week to save someone, or sometimes a lot of someones, and pushes the bounds of the imagination. If something doesn’t quite click, or falls a little flat, it doesn’t take away from the beat of the show because it continues to bound forward uninhibited. It is the kind of show that doesn’t need to be perfect to be good.
Agent X has an internal tempo that doesn’t get too caught up in extensive, sophisticated dialogue or diluted story lines that are so focused on making sense they miss out on being entertaining. It plays with the bounds of reality and forces the audience to say, “but, what if?” And that, my friends, is what makes a show fun.
You can watch Agent X Sundays 9/8c on TNT.
Be sure to follow @AgentXTNT on Twitter to join the live-tweeting fun!