Whether or not FX’s new period drama The Americans will be the fierce replacement we all need on Wednesdays at 10:00 pm after the season finale of American Horror Story: Asylum has yet to be seen. The pilot begins with a bang that sets viewers up for an edgy season but the episode to episode story line may eventually smother their attentive viewers. Although the episodes are packed with powerful sexual clips and intense action scenes this new series seems slow to the start. Said clips and scenes can be seen in many of the TV spots.
Set in the 1980s during the Reagan administration the focus falls on the intricate, fixed marriage of two KGB spies (Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings) living in Suburban Washington D.C. posing as the typical American family. They have two children, a thirteen year old girl and a ten year old boy who have no idea what mom and dad do. This leads to some intense decision making story lines and a few lighter, humorous family scenes for the show. Watching Phillip (Matthew Rhys) secretly beat the crap out of a man twice his size for hitting on his daughter at the mall was priceless.
Rhys is the gem in this new series, he dawns wigs, glasses, and has an awfully confusing tryst with a very hot but crazy blonde that the couple uses for help in a certain case. He plays secret spy dad stunningly well for a character that is flirting with the American dream. His character is a great big tease to viewers because you never know what this seemingly loose cannon will do next. Will he choose his family or his country; can he have both lives still? He ignites the screen with his presence.
Phillip’s story line is much more interesting than Elizabeth’s, played by Keri Russell. The character is tired and old; a strong, sexy woman fighting for her country and having a difficult past should not be played by the same woman who was once Felicity. It is easy to see that her views and opinions are going to be the main focus of the series which is disappointing because her hair does better acting than she does in the show. For being a spy since the age of 17 her sleuthing skills are terrible—just like her backstory.
An interesting (yet predictable) twist is when Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) a counter intelligence FBI agent moves in across the street with his beautiful, witty wife and teenage son. Stan is a seasoned veteran when it comes to working in the field and in dangerous places. Within his first two minutes at the office you are astounded by how intelligent he is at pin pointing what Russian spies would do next in a sticky situation. And of course, Stan is assigned to the new division of Counterintelligence that is specifically tasked with finding and fighting foreign agents just like Phillip and Elizabeth.
Tension builds with this seemingly coincidental neighborhood mash-up and there is much more brewing under the surface just waiting for the season to develop further. Emmerich is a good cast for this all American, hard skinned FBI agent and any scenes that pair him and Rhys up are delightfully imitating and amusing at the same time. There are also some intense yet comical chase scenes which bring relief to the show every so often. It is nice to see that FX still knows when to pepper in some comedic relief in their dramas.
If FX and creator, writer, and executive producer Joe Weisberg knew what was good for them they would focus on the building tension between Stan and Phillip and not the Elizabeth story line. Phillip is by far the most interesting character and if they want viewers to keep coming back each week they better realize that he is the gold maker. The show has stupendous promise if they make Phillip the key player.
Those are the thoughts of Jacki K on this one.