USA's Graceland Premiere Episode Advanced Review: Surf's Up!


Graceland "S01E01" Review

Hi guys! Join me as I discuss and review the pilot episode of USA's new summer series, Graceland. I had the privilege to watch an advanced screening. So in case you're already eyeing on this show, reading this review can surely give you some highlights, I hope you stick around.

For those who aren't familiar with the show's premise, "Graceland" is a drama based on true events which follows the life of undercover FBI agents living in one roof. While you might be thinking, "So, what?" & "WTH happens when highly-trained dudes and ladies become basically just roomies? Can't they just get their own place?". Uh, nice point, that exactly answers the central conflict of this series. (More on this later.)

I've personally anticipated this series due to my fondness of Jeff Eastin, the creator of well-watched USA series, White Collar. Eastin is known for his beautiful montages and unique setting. He also masters characterization that is nuanced and remarkably interesting, not to mention his eloquently delivered humor played through a 40-minute episode.

On Graceland, you can definitely expect for the same strong points. The characters are funny, good-looking and utterly badass. The setting, which is an almost perfect ambiance for the season, is gonna make your eyes want more. By that I'm talking LA beaches matched with bikini-clad ladies and surfer dudes! Seriously, THAT and a bunch of spies doing their own "spy thing"? Hell yes. Plus, did I mention the gorgeous, high-ceiling contours and glass windows (probably bullet-proof) of the actual Graceland lair? Inexplicably, I suddenly want to work for the bureau already.

Let me be clear that I'll make this review 90% filtered, spoiler-free. I'll now discuss the dramatic core of the series, heads up!

Three words -- think Donnie Brasco. If you're not familiar with the name, here's a quick introduction: Donnie Brasco is a film (also based on true events) starred by Johnny Depp who played as an FBI agent named Johnny Pistone aka Donnie. His assignment which happened on the late 70s, was to infiltrate one of NY city's nefarious organized-crime syndicate and essentially bring its entire operation down. Though Donnie did not live under the comfortable, sunny setting of "Graceland", he shared the same objective with them.

On the pilot, an "exchange" gone wrong when one of the team slipped into a major setback. Though the job is pretty much textbook on agents going undercover, what probably caused the mission to fail was he was because of the fact that he was surrounded by two wicked armed mobs -- Russians and Mexicans. Like all that pressure is gonna help? Ofcourse, the ramifications were not pretty, one of Graceland's member was put in jeopardy.

Due to this dude's absence, the bureau has sent a replacement, and he's no other than newly-minted FBI guy, Mike Warren (Arron Tveit). So as a guy fresh from Quantico, Warren meets his new team. A team lead by Agent Paul Briggs (Grey's Anatomy's Daniel Sunjata), who apparently has been living with a deep, dark history. (We all got secrets, ya know?)

As mentioned, these characters are funny, handsome and badass. In short, they're likeable. You'll probably have picked out your favorites after seeing the pilot. Each agent has their own specialty, like chefs. Some handles the Russians, Coccaine, even bird-smugglers (Yup, like the Rio movie) and other anti-government illegal crimes.

So just imagine basking on these secret ops with a 360 degrees perspective. I don't know about you, but that sounds TV marathon to me.

Graceland, on this fictional adaptation, serves as a home for FBI agents who everyday live with one foot down the grave. I'm not a pundit on cloak and dagger subjects but I've seen a lot of documentaries that claim just the same situation. The only difference perhaps is that authentic FBI agents don't exactly have the same good-looking features as the cast in this series. But as far as the high-stakes action and furtive affairs go, I'm all in.

Bottomline, USA has made the right move picking-up Graceland. It is a television show that can be explored in so many different directions (We're cheering for you, Mr. Showrunner).

I'm all for romantic hookups, among agents Eastin, but please forbid us from seeing another scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Conspiracies? Sure. As long as you don't recruit Katie Lowes' character on ABC's Scandal as the extremely miffing, Quinn Perkins. And since I am a lady, guesting White Collar's Matt Bomer as a singleton frolicking the beaches in LA, sounds great to me as well.

I'm wrapping up my review at this point. As far as the first episode fared, I'm giving it an 8 out of 10. Lastly for my one LAST SPOILER, please do keep an eye out for this former Grey's Anatomy star before the credits roll.

How about you, will you give Graceland a shot? What are your expectations for this series? Sound off below.

'Graceland' premieres Thursday, June 6th on USA Network. Hit the play button to watch the official promo --