'Deep State' Spy Thriller Looks Like The Rest, But Holds Its Own

Spies vs. spies, espionage and counter-espionage, grim surroundings in Middle Eastern cities and arid, outlying deserts -- these are the elements of so many TV shows these days that you might conclude that clandestine warfare has become a kind of obsession for TV’s content creators.

It is understandable, of course, from the perspective of current events. Unfortunately, it is the world we live in -- where nothing and no one are really what they appear to be, or so it seems.

This is especially true in the world of international spies -- at least the ones who are portrayed so often in TV shows and movies.

TV's newest spy is Max Easton (played by Mark Strong) in “Deep State,” a new series premiering Sunday night on Epix.

He is a familiar type -- laconic, secretive, literally tight-lipped and emotionally bottled up. He has been out of the spy trade for a number of years, living in the French countryside with his French wife and their two young daughters.



And before you know it, just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in. It is unclear in the premiere episode why he can’t simply say no and please get someone else.

On the other hand, if Easton were to refuse, you would have no show since the whole show is about him.

So, of course he has to accept this “offer” from his old employers, who are either the CIA or Britain’s MI-6. That’s also not quite clear in the series’ premiere or in the second episode provided for preview.

In addition, those who have seen many of these kinds of TV series about clandestine operations and the like might find themselves mouthing various lines of dialogue right before an actor says them onscreen. I did this three times in the first two episodes.

However, despite this show’s various clichés, it earns a thumbs-up here based mainly on the taut way it has been filmed and edited, and also the performances and locations.

Many of these shows have looked the same, though -- from “24” to “Homeland.” “Deep State” will likely be enjoyed most by fans of spy thrillers who don’t mind going at it one more time.

“Deep State” premieres Sunday (June 17) at 9 p.m. Eastern on Epix.

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