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The second episode of TRUE LIES has less action, which was the pilot’s high point. Here, the action only comes from two kickboxing fights, a gunfight and Harry using a trick to explode a bad guy’s car. That leaves the show dependent on Steve Howey’s annoying lead performance and the ludicrously sudden spy status of Helen. However, like the first episode, Episode Two of TRUE LIES features a positive moral and patriotic view of marriage and family.
“Public Secrets,” the second episode of TRUE LIES on CBS, is a big comedown from an already scattershot pilot episode that had bad writing and an annoying and unappealing lead actor in star Steve Howey, who plays Harry Tasker. Harry pretends and lies to his wife and family that he’s a computer salesman traveling to worldwide conventions when in reality he’s a secret agent. His wife, Helen (Ginger Gonzaga), discovers his other life when the two of them are beset by assassins in the pilot. Then, when she proves to be an incredible fighter herself, she’s immediately brought into Harry’s spy organization.
The second episode has far less action, which was the pilot’s high point as numerous stunt set-pieces helped prop an otherwise weak show up past the usual standards of network television spy series. Here, the action only comes from a couple of kickboxing fights, and Harry causing a bad guy’s car to explode with a fun trick. That leaves the show dependent on Howey’s annoying lead performance, the completely ludicrous sudden action-spy status of Helen, a lame plot with generic villains and a boring mission, and plenty of bad jokes.
The episode opens on Helen doing gymnastic moves to evade high tech lasers and snag a target. She gets caught, and she winds up punching, kicking and getting choked by her opponent. Until it’s revealed this she’s on a training exercise for her new position as a secret agent, suddenly bestowed upon her after a lifetime as a housewife whose only physical activity has been taking yoga classes.
She and Harry are assigned to go on “Operation Hackjob” in Madrid (the title also is a perfect summation of the series so far). Helen will be attending a major linguistics conference which Harry and his team will also attend as computer salesmen. Harry and Helen are supposed to find a cryptographer or codebreaker who can decode encrypted information about a planned bio-terrorist attack. Harry discovers that the codebreaker is a beautiful woman he once began an affair with before he met Helen. Meanwhile, at the conference, Helen runs into her ex-boyfriend in grad school, a man whom she never mentioned to Harry. This leads to a seemingly unending series of stale jokes intended to be witty banter between Harry and Helen.
Can they rescue the cryptographer and stop the bio-terrorists? Can they keep hiding the fact from their two teenagers that their parents are spies? Most importantly, will viewers care?
One other big problem with the program is that the ads keep featuring Tom Arnold reprising his role of Arnold Schwarzegger’s sidekick in the 1994 movie. The ads keep making it look like he’s one of the stars, or at least a special guest star, but he is in no way, shape or form part of the first two episodes. Maybe he wisely backed out.
TRUE LIES is a depressingly average reboot of the action-comedy classic of the same name that was written and directed by James Cameron. Cameron clearly is choosing a paycheck over artistic integrity in allowing the series to be made. However, like the first episode, Episode Two of TRUE LIES features a positive moral, patriotic though comical worldview showing marriage and family in a favorable light. MOVIEGUIE® advises caution for older children due to some lightly suggestive dialogue and music lyrics.
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