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"Graceland" on USA HD

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 


GRACELAND, a one-hour drama that follows a group of diverse agents – from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and U.S. Customs – whose worlds collide while forced to live together in an undercover beach house in Southern California. The project is from Jeff Eastin, the creator and executive producer of the network’s critically acclaimed original series White Collar and Fox Television Studios. Sean Daniel served as executive producer on the pilot. USA veteran Russell Fine (White Collar, Necessary Roughness) directed the pilot. The announcement was made today by USA Co-Presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel.

“There aren’t many people we’d trust to run two shows on our air, but Jeff Eastin is one of them,” said McCumber and Wachtel. “He wrote a brilliant script; Russell delivered a superb pilot; Daniel and Aaron anchor an incredible ensemble cast; FTVS was once again a great studio partner.”

Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me”) stars as the house’s senior FBI agent Paul Briggs, who has a legendary past but traded in his suit and tie for a more zen existence. Aaron Tveit (“Gossip Girl”) plays Mike Warren, a freshly minted FBI agent just out of the Academy and dripping wet behind the ears. Vanessa Ferlito (“CSI:NY”) stars as strong-willed DEA agent Catherine “Charlie” Lopez; Brandon Jay McLaren (“The Killing”) plays Dale Jakes, a quick-tempered U.S. Customs agent, and Manny Montana (“The Chicago Code”) plays FBI agent Joe "Johnny" Tuturro, the fun-loving prankster of the house. Scottie Thompson (“Trauma,” “NCIS”) guests as Lauren Kincaid, a loyal and determined DEA agent dealing with the repercussions of her wounded partner, along with Courtney B. Vance (LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, “Revenge”) as Quantico Section Chief special agent Sam Campbell and Jay Karnes (“Burn Notice ,” “The Shield”) as DEA group supervisor Gerry Silvo.


http://www.usanetwork.com/graceland

Reviews have suggested this is slightly darker than the usual USA fare and has a more serialized storyline. Based on that I'll give a few episodes a shot in the hopes it becomes more like Justified than another procedural.

Premieres tonight 6/6 10pm ET after the return of Burn Notice.

post #2 of 34
Thread Starter 
From HotP

TV Review
Daniel Sunjata and Aaron Tveit go undercover for USA's 'Graceland'
'White Collar' creator pushes the USA formula in a more serialized direction
By Alan Sepinwall, HitFix.com - Jun. 6, 2013

A successful undercover cop show, like a successful undercover police operation, requires patience. You need time to establish your characters, develop a relationship with their target, and plausibly get in deep enough for the real action to take place.

Most undercover cop shows — like most of the TV business in general — don't have that patience. They want instant gratification, and throw their heroes into new identities and operations with such speed that it's hard to believe in or care about anything that's happening. Every now and then you get a gem like "Wiseguy" (the '80s classic featuring lengthy guest arcs built around villains played by the likes of Ray Sharkey, Jerry Lewis and a young Kevin Spacey) or "Sleeper Cell" (the great but short-lived Showtime drama about an FBI agent infiltration an extremist Muslim terrorist group), but more often you get completely forgettable dramas like "Prince Street" or "The Handler" or "Dark Blue," where the cops tended to slip in and out of assignments so quickly as to not be worth the bother.

"Graceland," the new USA drama debuting Thursday night at 10, is attempting to split the difference — just as it's trying to both embrace and expand upon the familiar USA "blue skies" formula.

The series revolves around a SoCal beach house(*) that a group of federal agencies (including the FBI, DEA and Customs) use as a base of operations for their undercover operatives. They're an attractive bunch — led by Daniel Sunjata's undercover legend Paul Briggs, and joined by FBI rookie Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) — who live together, help each other out on investigations (and in supporting each other's cover identities), and also find plenty of time to surf, play football in the sand and complain about the house chore wheel.

(*) The show's title comes from the house's previous owner, an Elvis-loving drug dealer. Other than that, the show evokes nothing of either the King or the Paul Simon song.

A few years back, a show like "Graceland" on USA would have been completely disposable: Mike, Paul and the other housemates slipping in and out of character in the space of an episode, closing forgettable cases with enough time remaining to catch a few waves under a gorgeous setting sun. But the network's formula has evolved in the last few years, thanks in part to the work "Graceland" creator Jeff Eastin has done with "White Collar." Longer story arcs are now acceptable — "Burn Notice," beginning its final season tomorrow night at 9, has become almost totally serialized of late — as long as there's some sort of problem to be solved in the space of an hour.

So "Graceland" mixes things up: sometimes, Mike and friends work assignments that end practically as soon as they've begun, while at other times, they go into deep cover roles. Mike spends several episodes getting close to a drug lord played by Gbenga Akinnagbe, Chris Partlow from "The Wire," and there's also a secret reason for his assignment to the house that should take a long time — if not the life of the series — to resolve.

Unsurprisingly, the serialized material is stronger, especially when it involves Paul acting as coach and safety net for his housemates. This is an excellent role for Sunjata (light years better than his stint as a dramaturg on "Smash"), and he provides many shadings to Paul both when he's playing himself and when he's working under an assumed identity. Also strong: Vanessa Ferlito as a DEA agent who gets too close to one of her informants, and Manny Montana in a lighter role as the house's jack of all trades. (The other two housemates, played by Brandon Jay McLaren and Serinda Swan, don't get as much to do in the three episodes I've seen, and are totally absent from some episodes, though the creative team makes sure to eventually put Swan in a bikini.)

The wild card is Tveit, the young Broadway veteran who played Enjolras in the "Les Miserables" movie last year. He's believable as a golden boy rookie who would land such a plum assignment, and he has the level of gravity needed to be at the center of the series' main arc, but he's less convincing in his undercover guises than several of his co-stars.

Then again, depending on where Eastin takes "Graceland," Tveit may not matter that much. For all the praise heaped on "Wiseguy," little of it goes to star Ken Wahl, who was mainly there to be impressed by the guest villains. If Eastin and USA are serious about pushing in a more serialized direction, then the other feds and their targets may be enough for the show to work.

Based on the three episodes I've seen, there's a lot of potential here, and an interesting blend of self-contained and long-form storytelling. With "Burn Notice" ending (and with me way too far behind on "Suits" or "White Collar" to easily catch up), I'm in the market for a new USA show. This could be it, if it wants to be serious and not just kill time until everyone can grab their boards and hit the beach.

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-daniel-sunjata-and-aaron-tveit-go-undercover-for-usas-graceland
post #3 of 34
Watched the Graceland pilot last night and liked it well enough to decide to stick with the show for a while. At first, I thought it was filled with so much pretty people banter, I wasn't going to be able to tolerate it. By about the half way mark, though, the show had hit its stride and I began to enjoy it. As the review posted by VisionOn points out, Graceland has much in common with White Collar, Suits, and Burn Notice. Like those shows it intersperses problems that are solved in a single episode and others that promise to go on over the course of a season or more. Graceland also does a nice job of mixing a little comedy into its drama. Anyway, I am encouraged and want to see what comes next.
post #4 of 34
I honestly wasn't planning on checking this one out, but after watching the preview video I became interested. Not what I expected though. for some reason I thought all the people in Graceland were there for the same reason, to take down one big drug cartel. Didn't realize they were all there for separate reasons.

Either way, I liked it and think this one does have potential so I'm gonna stay with it. I gotta say though, I can't see there being much storyline with the Customs agent. I mean, the others are off tracking down drug dealers and killers and he's gonna be going after bird smugglers?
post #5 of 34
Liked the first two episodes. Will be interesting to see how the new guy monitors the main guy (Brinks?) w/o getting caught. So far he's not doing so good.
post #6 of 34
I very much liked the first 2 episodes. Hoping it sticks around. Quite enjoyable so far, surprisingly so ..
post #7 of 34
This show keeps getting better and better. Interesting outing tonight. Few twists I did not see coming.
post #8 of 34
Maybe I just don't get how government agencies run, but I'm not understanding why the three different factions would be working with each other. You would think that each one would want the busts for themselves and not share.

Either way, all I know is Dear Lord, that new chick in the house Paige has an unbelievable body on her. eek.gif
They should make sure to put her in a bikini more often. biggrin.gif
post #9 of 34
This show is definitely a keeper. It just keeps getting better.
post #10 of 34
Serinda Swan's bikinis should get a supporting acting award for this show. biggrin.gif
post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Imp View Post

Serinda Swan's bikinis should get a supporting acting award for this show. biggrin.gif

You can't just mention it without showing it! biggrin.gif

post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 
After watching another unconvincing undercover ploy on Burn Notice I thought it was time to get up to date with this show. Thankfully the bad guys on Graceland are nowhere near as gullible as they are on Burn Notice and the show sells the undercover aspect quite well. Although the rookie becoming the main bad guy's bodyguard is really teetering on the edge of the kind of problems Burn Notice has. A crime lord of that supposed status only has one lieutenant to step up?

I really do like this show but it has a few things that irk me. Apart from one eye-rolling moment in the second episode when the bad guys started firing rifle rounds from their pistols, most of the show hangs together quite well. It skirts around the darker edge of TV drama but still falls back on the sunny disposition and aesthetic of the USA dynamic a bit too often. I would prefer it if they went full on crime drama with a Tony Scott visual and less of the comedy banter. Also the customs officer is a bit of dead weight. Paige is fine as eye candy but she doesn't have much to do either. Maybe give the ICE guy a tougher storyline involving human trafficking or something.
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

Also the customs officer is a bit of dead weight. Paige is fine as eye candy but she doesn't have much to do either. Maybe give the ICE guy a tougher storyline involving human trafficking or something.

Yeah, that was my thought in the beginning as well. I just couldn't see him having much to do in this show. Like I said earlier, the others are chasing down drug dealers and killers and he's gonna be going after bird smugglers? Hold on while I try to contain my excitement. wink.gif

Right now he just seems to be relegated to backup on the other team member's missions.
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Imp View Post

Yeah, that was my thought in the beginning as well. I just couldn't see him having much to do in this show. Like I said earlier, the others are chasing down drug dealers and killers and he's gonna be going after bird smugglers? Hold on while I try to contain my excitement. wink.gif

Given the ICE guys investigate a lot of dramatic stuff in real life, the bird thing was lame off the bat. It's like the show isn't even really trying with him.

I saw End of Watch over the weekend and that's a good movie which covers some aspects the ICE agents would normally investigate. That was pretty grim.
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
They couldn't even give the ICE agent a background appearance this week!

This show definitely has an edge that USA has been missing. So I am expecting it to have a short shelf life. That would be a pity since I'm enjoying this show more than any of the other summer newbies. The end twist was signposted early on in the episode when Briggs knew exactly how Charlie was feeling but it does add another element. I'm still pretty sure that Briggs is skimming drugs but I expect it will be because he is on some ultra-deep deep cover assignment. Probably to find a corrupt director in the bureau.
post #16 of 34
I am surprised that nobody here has liked Graceland well enough to post about it in over a month. Thought the end of last week's show and this week's episode were terrific. That Briggs killed "Jangles" who Mike thought was a bad guy but Jangles was really an FBI agent who had been in charge of supervising Mike, who was the FBI's undercover point man in its investigation of Briggs, was terrific stuff. I am anxious to see how the last two episodes play out, although I fear that the show's chances of being renewed range between slim and none.
post #17 of 34
I've been enjoying the show and watch every week. I certain;y hope it comes back next season, though I wondered how they would handle Briggs in that event. I'm betting the real "Jangles" shows up in one of the remaining episodes and throw things wide open.
post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
I'm not expecting this one to survive either - at 2.1 million it has the lowest number of viewers of the USA dramas. It just beat Covert Affairs in the 18-49 by 0.1.

If this were on FX or AMC it would be getting a lot more attention. It would also lose the too-polished USA-sheen that doesn't sit well with the content. It looks like a typical USA cop show, but it is far darker than it's cinematography portrays. I don't remember torture and jacking up shown on a USA show before.

It's one show this summer that has genuinely kept surprising me. With the exception of the Jangles identity (which was blindingly obvious as soon as the new cop appeared) the show is really throwing some complicated curve balls into the story. Briggs as Odin was a very clever move to keep his allegiance in doubt after the investigation started drying up and the fact the show has been continually spilling the secrets amongst the characters has prevented the major plot lines from being dragged out too far.

Pity about the ICE agent. The show really has nothing for him to do.
Edited by VisionOn - 8/23/13 at 10:38pm
post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

I'm not expecting this one to survive either - at 2.1 million it has the lowest number of viewers of the USA dramas. It just beat Covert Affairs in the 18-49 by 0.1.

If this were on FX or AMC it would be getting a lot more attention. It would also lose the too-polished USA-sheen that doesn't sit well with the content. It looks like a typical USA cop show, but it is far darker than it's cinematography portrays. I don't remember torture and jacking up shown on a USA show before.

It's one show this summer that has genuinely kept surprising me. With the exception of the Jangles identity (which was blindingly obvious as soon as the new cop appeared) the show is really throwing some complicated curve balls into the story. Briggs as Odin was a very clever move to keep his allegiance in doubt after the investigation started drying up and the fact the show has been continually spilling the secrets amongst the characters has prevented the major plot lines from being dragged out too far.

Pity about the ICE agent. The show really has nothing for him to do.

Couldn't agree more that Graceland is very smart. Its writers sure as hell don't insult their viewers' intelligence. Some of the side threads have been shorted because of time constraints but Briggs and Mike's relationship and its ramifications, have been beautifully handled. As you say the show is very unlike typical USA fare and is far more like the sort of thing we often see on FX or AMC
post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L View Post

I'm betting the real "Jangles" shows up in one of the remaining episodes and throw things wide open.

Jangles has already showed up.....he's the Mexican Federale. They made that pretty obvious.
post #21 of 34
So was the Jangles that Briggs killed the real one or was he just trying to get something on Briggs?

Edit: Missed #20. Also missed how they made it "obvious" that the Federale was Jangles.
post #22 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 73shark View Post

So was the Jangles that Briggs killed the real one or was he just trying to get something on Briggs?

Edit: Missed #20. Also missed how they made it "obvious" that the Federale was Jangles.

The guy Briggs killed was the FBI handler for Mike and the guy the FBI are now trying to find. He went undercover as a last effort in the hope of getting Briggs to confess to some deal with the cartel.

The Mexican Federal is Jangles. He was wearing the same clothes when he met Charlie that he was wearing when he tortured Bello and during that Mike shot Jangles in the shoulder as he was escaping. Later in that episode during a meet with Charlie, the camera pans around to show his shoulder bleeding through his suit.

It was obvious to me on his first appearance just because it was a massive coincidence that a Mexican cop (and brand new character) showed up in the same room Briggs happened to be watching and then the show gave him a too-stellar police record to make it seem like he really was a good guy.
post #23 of 34
This is one of, if not my favorite show right now and I will be annoyed if it doesn't get renewed.

Oh, and Paige in yet another bikini top doesn't hurt either. biggrin.gif
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Imp View Post

This is one of, if not my favorite show right now and I will be annoyed if it doesn't get renewed.

Oh, and Paige in yet another bikini top doesn't hurt either. biggrin.gif


+1. smile.gif
post #25 of 34
Yay!! Season 2 all set 2014
post #26 of 34
Thread Starter 
Well that's unexpected.

I still can't figure out if Briggs is good or bad! There's still time for the show to pull the deep undercover angle but I'm edging towards the house occupants being replaced each season.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L View Post

Yay!! Season 2 all set 2014

Nice, Paige and her bikinis survive to see another day! biggrin.gif
post #28 of 34
Thread Starter 
Unless she gets killed off in the finale this week.
post #29 of 34
No comments on the season finale? I guess Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
He got away with all of it, including the selling of the heroin.
post #30 of 34
Yeah, this would have definitely bummed me even more if they decided to just let it end like that. And just when the Customs agent was getting more interesting too. wink.gif

I would have preferred it if Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Briggs killed Jangles as that was his demon to deal with.

As for the ending, Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
since it seems Mike is now in a position in DC to call his own shots, I can easily see him either sending himself back to Graceland or coming up with a cover that needs to get him sent back.
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