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FX's new series "The Americans" is head and shoulders better than NBC's "Do No Harm"
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys attend the premiere of the FX TV series 'The Americans' in New York on Jan. 26.
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By Rob Hedelt
THE two new network
The better one, FX's "The Americans," is a crafty tale
The other, NBC's "Do No Harm," is saddled with such a ridiculous premise that not even talented star Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me") has
The surprising thing about "The Americans," which derives its power in showing us spies hidden in plain sight in suburbia, is that lead Keri Russell ("Felicity") isn't the bright spot here.
Partly by design and partly because Russell overdoes her flat emotions, the character of wife Elizabeth Hennings doesn't drive this tale.
Husband Philip does, with Matthew Rhys making him a much more accessible and real person.
Here's the story's setup: way back in the height of the Cold War, the KGB was big on planting sleeper agents here in the U.S.
The agency trained them to look and sound American and to pose as husband and wife, even going to the point of having several children and creating lives for themselves in the suburbs.
That's where this story begins, with Philip and Elizabeth living in a nice subdivision, taking the kids to the mall and hockey practice. And kidnapping a former KGB agent before he can reveal any more secrets to the CIA.
The pilot episode doesn't waste any time in showing that these two Russians posing as Americans could be cold-blooded agents, setting up the kidnapping and then bashing the "traitor" when they apprehend him.
The zing comes after we see them act as cold-blooded agents. They waltz through the kitchen door the next morning--with the former KGB agent tied up in the trunk of their car--to start the day with their normal American family
A divide between Elizabeth and Philip is set up early on, and will surely serve as a dramatic focus for the length of the series.
The husband and wife have reacted differently to decades of posing as Americans. Philip has come to like living as a family in the U.S., and wouldn't mind giving up the whole secret agent thing. But Elizabeth is still a true believer.
WHAT: "The Americans" WHEN: Wednesdays at 10 p.m. WHERE: FX WHAT: "Do No Harm" WHEN: Thursdays at 10 WHERE: NBC