The title really does make sense
It’s actually the code name of FBI agent Will Chase (Scott Foley, from Felicity, Scandal and dozens of other shows). The real question to ask is, why is the show named after him when his fellow spy, CIA agent Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead) – codename ‘Fiery Tribune’, which is at least as good a name for a series – is clearly his equal in every way?
To be fair, the series does begin with Will struggling to get over a bad break-up when he’s plunged into an all-action mission across Europe (the series was filmed in Prague). But once Frankie turns up it’s clearly as much her show as his, and by the end of episode 1 they’re both assigned to head up a cross-agency taskforce assigned to handle all the tough jobs on the continent that no one else can deal with.
Yes, it features an exploding tampon
As part of the promotion for the series before its launch earlier this year, US network ABC ran a fake commercial featuring a, you guessed it, exploding tampon:
It wasn’t just the tampon that exploded: social media lit up as viewers struggled to come to terms with a program that promised volatile feminine hygiene products.
But as the first episode reveals, this wasn’t just a joke out of nowhere; Whiskey Cavalier is a spy series in the old-school sense, and that means less angst and more attractive people taking out the bad guys with fancy gadgets. And yes, sometimes that means blowing up the villains with an exploding tampon. As the ad warns, “Feminine spygiene products not for internal use. Seriously.”
It’s by Bill Lawrence
You may not know the name, but you definitely know the shows. Scrubs? Cougar Town? He’s the man behind them both. He’s also a producer who specialises in shows that walk the fine line between outright comedy and heartfelt drama.
Remember how Scrubs was all silly doctor pranks and then it would turn on a dime to tug on the heartstrings when a patient didn’t make it? Or how Cougar Town rapidly went from, well, a show that deserved to be called “Cougar Town” to a far more nuanced and hilarious look at a group of friends drinking wine in a suburban cul-de-sac?
So despite the offbeat title and a tone that’s a little more light-hearted and fun than we’ve come to expect from dramas in 2019, this is a series that’s always in on the joke – and not afraid to go serious when the story demands it.
It features a great ensemble cast
There’s Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty, Devious Maids) as profiler Dr. Susan Sampson, Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town, spy series Quantico) as FBI Special Agent Ray Prince, Tyler James Williams (all grown up since his days on Everybody Hates Chris) as NSA analyst Edgar Standish and Bollywood actor Vir Das as CIA agent Jai Datta making up the core group of spies.
It’s also a bit of a family affair: Scott Foley’s wife Marika Domińczyk (as seen on Grey’s Anatomy) has a multi-episode run as a European mercenary, while Bill Lawrence’s wife Christa Miller (Scrubs, Cougar Town) also makes an appearance as a tough judge with ties to Frankie’s family.
Also yes, that’s Dylan Walsh – best remembered as the slightly more tormented of the two dodgy plastic surgeons on Nip/Tuck – playing the series’ big bad Alex Ollerman.
Will they or won’t they? It’s not even a question
Right from the start, you know Will and Frankie are going to have a “will they or won’t they” relationship. Partly it’s because they have great chemistry together; partly it’s because that’s just how these kinds of series work. But now that we’re all on the same page, there’s no reason why the series can’t have a little fun with it, and barely an episode goes by without the duo having to pretend to be married for a mission or find themselves having a romantic heart-to-heart because they could be dead by morning.
Even when Will finds himself an actual romantic partner in Emma (Ophelia Lovibond, which is a perfect spy name in and of itself), we all know where his heart really lies. He’s a sensitive, heart-on-his-sleeve guy who sees his warm personality as his biggest asset, while Frankie is a tough-as-nails, all-business type who doesn’t have time for what you humans call “feelings”: if opposites attract, it’s a wonder these two can spend a moment apart.
It’s a good old-fashioned, but totally up-to-the-minute spy series
For whatever reason, American television has drifted away from old-style spy series in recent years (series about spies, like The Americans, are a different matter). But Whiskey Cavalier isn’t afraid to fill each episode with actual secret missions, undercover antics, fancy locations, wacky gadgets (that exploding tampon was only the beginning) and looking sexy while foiling high-stakes schemes to topple the British monarchy or sell nerve gas to terrorists.
And by “foiling”, we mean killing the bad guys. Killing a lot of them. This is one of the most fun shows to come out of the US in years.
The complete first season of 'Whiskey Cavalier' premieres at SBS On Demand on Wednesday 18 September.
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