Let's Hear It For The Girl

The premiere of ABC's The Assets starts with intrigue, continues with some action and nail-biting moments and ends with a surprise.

The Assets Episode 1 review

As I watched the premiere of The Assets, I couldn't help but think how appropriate it was that ABC decided to show this series in Scandal's normal time slot. Both shows feature strong women in the lead, but if anything, Sandy Grimes was quite possibly stronger than Olivia Pope.

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Before anyone decides to behead me for that comment, listen to why I think that way before you wheel out the guillotine. While Olivia is undoubtedly a fiercely determined woman who should be admired for all that she's done, Sandy does the same thing with a few more challenges in her way. Both women share the same strength, but what made Sandy more admirable to me is that she was doing it at a time when it wasn't as common for women to be in places of power. It wasn't exactly the Dark Ages, but still, women in the '80s were still fighting to prove what they could do and I would imagine that task was incredibly harder in the spy community.

Other than having a strong woman in basically the lead role, there was a lot more to admire about this series. When I first heard about it, I was fascinated to discover that it is based on real-life events. That definitely made the show more exciting to watch, though I had to fight myself to not go and look up what really happened. I have no idea if the series will follow history to the point of exact detail, but I still don't want any spoilers — even if those spoilers might be found in history books.

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One of the most enjoyable parts of the show for me had to be the setting of the '80s. Sure, the clothing styles from the '80s could have been used as nonstop jokes, but other than a brief conversation involving Sandy's teenage daughter's choice of school outfit, the clothes are simply worn and ignored. No, for me the allure came from the low-tech way they conducted their spying back then. There were no fancy computer programs and talented hackers breaking into people's cell phones to pick up super-secret conversations. Instead, there were people risking their lives to deliver paper bags full of money and messages coming across Telex machines.

The premiere episode had a lot of good moments, but the one that stood out for me was the money drop. As I said above, I really enjoyed the low-tech aspect of spying and you don't get much more low-tech than a guy running all over Moscow trying to avoid the KGB so he could deliver a package full of money to an asset. Every time he found and lost his followers, I wanted to pull my hair out in excitement and frustration. Who knew a scene so simple could have so much drama?

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All in all, the first episode of The Assets had a lot going for it and if the last five minutes were any indication, there is plenty more good stuff to come.

My favorite bits:

Sandy fighting with her teenage daughter over her attire for school. Classic.

The updates coming through on the Telex machines in between the action. It was a great way to bridge the scenes.

Finding out that they got their asset over a bottle of booze.

The quiet conversation Sandy had with her husband and his reassurance that he knew she would save the world one day.

Sandy figuring out that the entire thing was a set-up.

Sandy telling her daughter that pajamas were more appropriate clothing for school.

A KGB officer calling and asking to defect.

What did you think of the premiere episode of The Assets?

Image courtesy of ABC

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Comments on "The Assets premiere review: Spy vs. spy"

d.o. January 04, 2014 | 3:28 PM

The premier sucked! It was painfully amateurish, reminiscent of a poor highschool play or worse. Obviously a commercial bracketer with a very weak plot, poor acting and, well... just plain painfull. Of course, I had just finished watching (again) "Zero Dark Thirty". Perhaps that what made me keep groaning. (ERASE!)

QuM3 January 03, 2014 | 4:57 PM

The book was brilliant, the show is a docu-movie and that must be understood. The state of the art in spycraft is legit for that period. You cant compare it to The Americans which is Fiction. The best is yet to come.

Bill January 03, 2014 | 12:47 PM

I was sucked in during the first five minutes. The show stands on its own. I don't need to compare it to anything. I guess its true that women case officers are common inn the CIA. Would be interesting to hear what an ex-CIA agent thinks of the show. I think this may be a hit show. BTW, Scandal sucks. I watched two episodes and erased it from my DVR and saved many hours of my life for more productive use.

cvillebilly January 03, 2014 | 9:58 AM

I was looking forward to this show and ended up disappointed. Show started off pretty well, but as the show progressed I found the dialogue and plot predictable and bad. For instance, the female lead's "doubts" after her asset is killed. Come on now. She's a case office in the CIA. You don't rise that far and have the rookie concerns she's harboring. Too much plot development with dialogue instead of action. Leave something to our imagination. We, the audience, are smart. We can figure it out. Don't over explain. In the end, I have a feeling this will just end up being a poor man's Homeland. Why can't the networks put out something smart like Sherlock?

bobidee January 03, 2014 | 6:05 AM

Well-----I was sucked in within the first 10 minutes. I think the show is great, however I will still watch Scandal via DVR

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