THE SPYING GAME

I spy with my lit­tle eye, an en­ter­tain­ing new show about se­cret agents. Guy Davis re­veals all about Seven’s Covert Af­fairs.

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Nikita, which will star Die Hard 4.0’ s Mag­gie Q as an as­sas­sin work­ing for a top-se­cret or­gan­i­sa­tion.

And Ru­bi­con, a new se­ries that has just pre­miered in the US, stars The Pa­cific’s James Badge Dale as a think-tank an­a­lyst who finds him­self en­meshed in a dan­ger­ous con­spir­acy.

But beat­ing them all to the punch is Covert Af­fairs, a clever and charm­ing ac­tion thriller star­ring Piper Per­abo as a trainee with the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency who finds her­self pre­ma­turely placed in the shad­owy world of global in­trigue when her flu­ency in for­eign lan­guages makes her the ideal choice to de­brief a Rus­sian arms dealer ready to spill the beans about his dirty deal­ings.

OK, the fact that Per­abo’s An­nie Walker can also “ pass for a call­girl” helps as well.

If the no­tion of a young fe­male se­cret agent fre­quently called upon to don some re­veal­ing out­fits in the line of duty rings a bell, then you’re prob­a­bly still mourn­ing the loss of Alias, the Jen­nifer Garner spy se­ries that came to a con­clu­sion a few years back. ( Don’t worry, you’re not alone.)

While Covert Af­fairs has its fair share of drama and ac­tion, though, it’s a far lighter show than Alias or even Burn No­tice, where the wry wit is a cover for an un­der­ly­ing cyn­i­cism about the spy game.

Once she finds her­self in the thick of the top-se­cret in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, An­nie quickly comes to re­alise that there’s just as much treach­ery afoot within the walls of the CIA of­fices as there is in any war zone.

While she may find al­lies such as charm­ing tech whiz Aug­gie ( Christo­pher Gorham from Ugly Betty), she must also con­tend with the likes of her am­bi­tious, con­trol­ling boss Joan ( Kari Match­ett), who is per­pet­u­ally brawl­ing with a fel­low depart­ment head ( Peter Gal­lagher) … who just hap­pens to be her hus­band.

In­deed, the lines be­tween pro­fes­sional and per­sonal of­ten in­ter­sect in Covert Af­fairs, with An­nie forced to keep her new role a se­cret from her big sis­ter Danielle ( Anne Dudek), who be­lieves An­nie is work­ing a bor­ing nine-to-five job.

Danielle also thinks An­nie just needs to meet the right guy. But An­nie is still smart­ing from a re­la­tion­ship that ended abruptly and mys­te­ri­ously. Or did it? ( Of course that’s go­ing to play a part in fu­ture episodes. That’s just the way this kind of show works, right?)

With Bourne Iden­tity di­rec­tor Doug Li­man lend­ing his ex­per­tise with es­pi­onage to the project as ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, it’s lit­tle won­der that Covert Af­fairs is sleek, stylish fun.

And Per­abo, who has long strug­gled to land that one break­out role, makes the most of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity the char­ac­ter of An­nie of­fers. Strong, sweet, smart and funny, she’s this show’s se­cret weapon.

Dan­ger­ous charm: Piper Per­abo ( cen­tre) joins forces with ( from left) Anne Dudek, Send­hil Ra­ma­murthy, Christo­pher Gorham, Peter Gal­lagher and Kari Match­ett in the new spy-drama.

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