‘Agent X’ Pilot Recap: “Ours Is a Nation of Unknown Heroes”

Sharon Stone’s career must really be in the crapper these days, huh? Admittedly, I can’t remember the last movie I saw her in (probably 2006’s ill-fated ‘Basic Instinct 2’). The actress would have to be truly desperate to headline TNT’s idiotic new action series ‘Agent X’. This is the sort of job you take when you can’t afford to pay your mortgage.

Have you ever wondered what the Vice President, a position that has few defined responsibilities beyond simply standing by and being available in case the President dies, actually does all day when not campaigning during an election year? If so, you should probably watch HBO’s hilarious political satire ‘Veep’. That show’s a million times better than this one. And it’s intentionally funny too. When ‘Agent X’ goes for wink-wink laughs, the attempts fall painfully flat.

Stone plays newly-inaugurated VP Natalie Maccabbee. Upon being sworn into office, she’s handed an old-timey key with a strange Masonic symbol printed on it. She soon discovers that this opens a secret passageway from the study of her new official residence, beyond which is a high-tech lair where she’ll do her real job. It turns out that the original copy of the U.S. Constitution contained an extra paragraph that’s been kept hidden from the public for the last couple centuries. The super-secret Section 5 assigned the VP command of an “agent of unknown identity” whose purpose is to fight crime by any means necessary using a “judicious disregard for accepted legal formalities.”

In other words, she’s Batman’s boss.

The agent in question goes by the name John Case (Jeff Hephner from ‘Chicago Fire’). That’s almost certainly an alias. The President (John Shea), who was formerly VP himself, knows all about this, but Natalie is not allowed to discuss it with him for the purposes of plausible deniability. Also fully aware of the situation are the Chief Justice (a slumming James Earl Jones) and Natalie’s new valet Malcolm (Gerald McRaney), who acts as her Alfred Pennyworth. Beyond that, she and Case are on their own.

As these things usually go, Natalie is thrown right into the job with no preparation when the FBI Director’s daughter is kidnapped by a so-called “chaos merchant” named Markov, who wants to exchange her for the release of imprisoned super-hottie terrorist Olga Petrovka (Olga Fonda from ‘The Vampire Diaries’).

Well, Olga actually escapes prison on her own. Case goes after her. They fight and shoot at each other a lot, then fight some more and shoot at each other again. Eventually, he captures her and rescues the FBI Director’s daughter, but Olga escapes again anyway. All the while, Natalie stands around looking concerned and does… I don’t know, frankly. I guess she’s there for moral support or something.

The show is a half-baked fusion of ‘Batman’ and ‘National Treasure’. It’s also as dumb as a box of… umm… really dumb things. The pilot episode is filled with action, all of it frantically staged and edited without much creativity. Aside from the Olga character, who’s far more of an appealing badass than our bland-as-dirt hero and deserves a better series to showcase her, the show offers about zero entertainment value.

The series premiere was spread across two episodes this past Sunday (scheduled separately , for some reason). I barely made it through the first one and couldn’t be bothered to watch the second. This thing is awful.

Grade: F

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