MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 3.1: “Smells Like Winner”

It’s been almost a year since we had any new episodes of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, and the dawning of the new season means a new location, new storylines, new cast members — and the relegation of some characters to the back burner, while others were shown the door.

The Big Three — National Champion Kaylie (Josie Loren), Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) and Payson (Ayla Kell) — arrive at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., after just barely qualifying back in last season’s finale. At the OTC, they meet Coach McIntire (Dondré T. Whitfield), who will put them through a grueling eight-week regimen and only the survivors will go to London.
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BURN NOTICE 5.1: Company Man

The premise of BURN NOTICE when it began read like this: Burned spy Michael Weston wants to find out who got him tossed out of the CIA, and then get back in with the agency. Over the course of four seasons, the show has threatened to reinvent itself on a regular basis by dangling the identity of the burner or appearing to offer Michael a new job. However, every time it looks like the status quo has changed, it just turns out that Michael is even more burned than last time. So, when season five opened with the suggestion that Michael could finally be back with the CIA, I was hopeful – but wary of getting burned again.

The new season picks up six months after last season’s finale, which saw Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) seemingly welcomed back into the CIA by Raines (Dylan Baker), but we learn that Michael is still being treated as an intelligence asset – not an agent – while he hunts down every name on that secret list that was the central McGuffin of last season. Now there’s just one name left – the boss, John Kessler – between Michael and his twin goals: learning why he was burned, and getting his credentials back. Michael has been teamed with the CIA’s top field operative, Max (Grant Show), but in order to take down Kessler, Michael insists on using his regular team of Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar). And when everything goes pear-shaped for the G-men, Michael has to rely on his improvisational skills to track the baddie. But before Michael can get his hands on Kessler, the mastermind kills himself, leaving Michael with no answers.
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COVERT AFFAIRS 2.1: Begin the Begin

Last summer’s guiltiest pleasure for me was USA’s COVERT AFFAIRS, a sort of ALIAS-lite that featured likeable tyro CIA agent Annie Walker, played by Piper Perabo (of Coyote Ugly and Lost and Delirious fame). Your appreciation for COVERT AFFAIRS pretty much depended on your appreciation of Annie/Piper as she undertook the mission of the week, bungled it, and then saved the day through desperation, pluck and charm. Annie did not rely on sex appeal to the same degree as Jennifer Garner’s Sydney Bristow on ALIAS, but Piper can rock a bikini with the best of them when she must. My tolerance for Perabo is pretty high; your mileage may vary. (Don’t judge me; WHITE COLLAR coasts on fans hypnotized by Matt Bomer.) So I am happy this frothy series is back.

Annie had a mysterious love interest, one Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey, of Band of Brothers), who just happened to be a former CIA operative. Or maybe he still was on the payroll; nobody could really tell. And it sort of didn’t matter, because Annie was also drawn into the orbit of the charismatic Auggie (Christopher Gorham), a fast-talking/quicker-thinking CIA agent who just happened to be blind.
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