Alibi V.28 No.9 • Feb 28-March 6, 2019 

Idiot Box

Live and Let Spy

“Whiskey Cavalier” on ABC

Vaguely recognizable TV boyfriend Scott Foley (“Dawson’s Creek,” “Felicity,” “Scrubs,” “The Unit,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “True Blood,” “Scandal”) teams up with British-but-it-don’t-show actress Lauren Cohan (currently leading the mass exodus from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) for ABC’s much-hyped midseason replacement series “Whiskey Cavalier.” Already the butt of late-night talk show monologue jokes for its goofball title, the action comedy is exactly what you’d get if you crammed a bunch of “Moonlighting” scripts and a couple of Roger Moore era James Bond movies into a blender and filmed the slurry that plopped out after a quick purée.

Foley stars as upstanding FBI agent Will Chase. Everybody prefers to call him by his super cool codename “Whiskey Cavalier”—which sounds just as cartoony in practice as it does in print. You can tell he’s one of the good guys, because he’s variously referred to as “Captain America” and “Boy Scout.” His job is to jet around the world and kill off various evil terrorists. (Despite the fact that the real FBI is a domestic organization.)

While on assignment in Russia (in a Ferrari, because that’s how the FBI rolls), he stumbles across sexy CIA agent Frankie Trowbridge (whose codename is the even goofier “Fiery Tribune”). In this universe FBI agents and CIA agents are constantly at war with one another, backstabbing, kidnapping and occasionally shooting one another in their battle to capture suspects. (In the real world, the CIA has no law enforcement authority.) Seems Will and Frankie are both after the same “traitor,” a wisecracking, fast-talking computer hacker named Edgar (Tyler James Williams, former star of “Everybody Hates Chris,” who can’t really be blamed for the fact that writers were really dreaming of Chris Rock in the wisecracking, fast-talking sidekick role).

What follows is the exact sort of squabbling, fighting, shooting, running, racing, superspy shenanigans underscored by will-they-or-won’t-they romance you were expecting. Whiskey, you see, is known for his “high emotional intelligence.” (That’s a term someone actually uses.) That means he’s a tough spy, but a romantic wuss. As the show starts, he’s just broken up with his fiancée (a French girl named Gigi, for god’s sake). He’s drowning his sorrows in booze, romantic comedies and Bonnie Tyler CDs. The show’s idea of a well-constructed joke is to have our brokenhearted hero run into people getting engaged or having a wedding ceremony on just about every street corner.

Fiery gets just about as deep a backstory, summed up by a hotshot FBI profiler in all of 20 seconds: Her parents were killed by terrorists. She blames herself, making her incredibly dedicated, but emotionally distant and with a pronounced inability to trust other people. Oh, this sounds like a love-hate match made in Heaven (or a SoCal junior college scriptwriting course). Naturally, by the pilot’s end, FBI agent Chase and CIA agent Trowbridge are stuck together on a top-secret joint task force dedicated to rooting out rampant corruption and conspiracy in both agencies.

This is the sort of show that only works if you watch it with half your brain switched off—which is how most people use the Idiot Box anyway. Fast-paced, pretty-looking, comfortingly familiar and ridiculous as hell, “Whiskey Cavalier” probably has the exact elements necessary to make it a big fat TV hit.

“Whiskey Cavalier” airs Wednesdays at 9pm on KOAT-7.