Since the Central Intelligence Agency likes to work in secrecy, it makes perfect sense that The Agency would do the same: Airing Thursday at 10 p.m. on CBS, a time when the nation performs a titanic remote-control switchover from ”CSI” to ”ER,” ”The Agency” has found the perfect hiding place to conduct its covert operations. So far, CBS has ordered a full season of the series starring ”Ally McBeal”’s Gil Bellows as an energetic, globe-trotting agent and Ronny Cox as his desk-bound but weary-looking boss. I guess the network figures it has nothing that’ll do better against ”ER,” and that it’s good, in these troubled times, to have a strongly pro-government series on its schedule.
Unlike the season’s two other new CIA-themed shows, ”24” and ”Alias,” ”The Agency” — created by Michael Frost Beckner and including the odd coupling of Wolfgang Petersen and Shaun Cassidy among the executive producers — is being made with the cooperation of the CIA. Yet this government-approved drama has already shown one agent, played by Paige Turco, manufacturing false documents to disguise her own employment at the Agency from her soon-to-be ex-husband.
”The Agency” is so ripped-from-the-headlines that its episode about anthrax was postponed a couple of times lest it appear exploitive. Not exactly action-packed, the show too often lets technology take over. Cox, Bellows, Turco, and other good actors like Will Patton, ”ER”’s Gloria Reuben, Rocky Carroll (”Chicago Hope”), and ”thirtysomething”’s David Clennon (still dripping Miles Drentell disdain) stare at computer screens that spit out passports granting instant new identities, or that pinpoint the body-heat shapes of terrorists halfway around the globe. At the end of an hour, wry smiles are exchanged and Cox is likely to get a call to go visit an always-unseen President for congrats on a mission well-done.