Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Covert Affairs 1.7: Amtrak Split

Keeping an eye on Covert Affairs, the stylish, James Bondian, Aliasesque new spy series on the USA Network.   Episode 1.7, on last night, struck a chord with me - I'm always on the lookout for a good story whose resolution hinges on a train (probably because of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train or North by Northwest, who knows).

Last night's story featured Auggie (good work by Christopher Gorham) - blind, cool, accomplished colleague of Annie at the CIA - though there was plenty of attractive Annie, and Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy - from Heroes!), too!   Auggie has to reconnect with a former lover, another beauty, who's a master hacker.  She's attracted everyone's attention by bringing down the power grid for a brief period of time in Washington.   Everyone means not only ours but the Russian spy agency - Natasha is Russian - and throw in our own organized crime guys as well.

Lots of good scenes and action, but, to get back to my love of trains in fiction (I also love riding Amtrak in real life, too), the best part of the night had Auggie and Natasha undertaking an escape from New York to the north via Amtrak.  (Auggie has fallen back in love with Natasha.)  He fakes out most of the pursuing spies and bad guys by taking advantage of the Albany, NY station, where trains to the north can split and go due north to Montreal, or north by northwest to Toronto.   I can't recall the last time I saw a show on television utilize such good knowledge of the train system.

Hey, I like the Amtrak northern routes so much that I had my forensic detective, Dr. Phil D'Amato, take the Lake Shore Limited in my 2002 novel, The Consciousness Plague.   There's something about trains - the way they move, the fleeting community of people aboard - that makes them ideal vehicles for fiction.

Like Covert Affairs, they're smooth, fast, and chock full of atmosphere.

See also Covert Affairs on USA Network

5-min podcast review of Covert Affairs

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