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She Spies: The Complete First Season

cast: Natasha Henstridge, Kristen Miller, Natashia Williams, and Carlos Jacott

creators: Vince Manze, Joe Livecchi, Steven Long Mitchell, and Craig W. Van Sickle

900 minutes (n/r) 2002
MGM / Sony DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
This television series is comedy adventure with a coolly satirical twist, very much in the familiar manner of Airplane (1980) and Top Secret (1984). Basically, She Spies is Charlie's Angels meets Nikita, but archly postmodern in tone and rarely taking itself seriously for a moment. The set-up is daring simple and endearingly frivolous: three convicts are granted their freedom in exchange for covert service to the state. Glamorous con-artist Cassie (Natasha Henstridge, from Species, and Ghosts Of Mars), adorable computer hacker D.D. (Kristen Miller, see The Fallen Ones), and lissom cat burglar Shane (Natashia Williams), are released from long prison sentences and press-ganged into new lives as secret agents, fighting evil in the world - wherever, whenever, whatever...

This luscious trio supposedly answer to government agent Jack (Carlos Jacott, in a frequently thankless and teasingly effeminate role, as office-manager and much ridiculed taskmaster), who tolerates the ladies' put-downs and practical jokes, and eventually wins their respect, trust, and friendship. He sends them on dangerous, undercover missions; they simply prefer to do things their way, getting away with frequent acts of disobedience, negligence or tomfoolery because they almost invariably get the job done, somehow, if rarely with style.

With three sexy femmes, expect gratuitous hairstyle (thrice daily, on occasion), and frequent dress changes going far beyond the point of absurdity. Half the show's budget must go on new costumes (though sleek, tailored black-jumpsuits are regular mission attire), and our heroines vary outfits so often - per episode - they would surely need walk-in wardrobes the size of couture hypermarkets. She Spies mimics the split-screen multi-location shots of 24 for the girl-talk comms' traffic (cue big close-ups of lip-glossed pouts), and knocks down the fourth wall, on occasion, too (as in The First Episode, which features a TV studio's parody of She Spies itself, and a perfectly timed 'clash of the bimbos' scene).

Happily, for this kind of action/ sitcom crossover, very few episodes slip clumsily into soap opera clichés. The grimly predictable, mawkishly sentimental ending of episode Daddy's Girl is a shameless exception. The inevitable 'clip-show' episode sees Jack in 'hospital' stricken with memory loss, and playfully doles out multiple (non-essential) flashbacks within the main narrative's flashbacks (of Jack's own hazy recollections), and hosts a wholly amusing new-narrative flashback with the actor's commentary, pitched like a mockingly superfluous DVD extra.

Various famous faces make guest star appearances. Barry Bostwick, Dee Wallace Stone, Henry Gibson, Costas and Louis Mandylor, Keith Szarabajka, Jon Polito, Stephen Furst, Julie Benz, Claudia Christian (as the original 'she spy'!), Priscilla Barnes, Tamara Davies, David Rasche (oh, well, yeah... of course!), Jeffrey Combs, and Samantha Eggar, give of their very best in portraits of villainy, acts of tragic heroism or desperation (they'd have to be frantically careless to trust security to the She Spies trio!), or victims in need of bodyguards, quietly sinister assassins, romantic foils, etc.

If you really liked Alias (starring Jennifer Garner), La Femme Nikita (with Peta Wilson), or even Pamela Anderson's V.I.P., this bargain-priced DVD boxset will definitely be of interest to you - and, with 20 x 45-minute episodes on four discs, provide hours of good fun and entertainment.
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