A little bit of James Bond. A little bit of Danny Ocean. And a whole lot of crinkly smiles.
That’s the best way to describe Milo Ventimiglia, the First Hunk of network TV, in his new ABC series, “The Company You Keep,” a romantic thriller that’s tailor-made for the “This Is Us” and “Heroes” actor’s charm and subtle stubble.
Much like the man himself, “Company” (Sundays, 10 EST/PST, ★★★ out of four) is sweet, mildly funny and so easy to watch. It’s the kind of classic TV comfort food that is sorely lacking in our streaming-driven TV era, when every show wants to be bigger, bloodier and more bombastic than the rest. “Company” is quite content to give us a broadcast TV star as a thief with a heart of gold who falls for a misunderstood, by-the-book CIA agent.
It’s a little bit of “Romeo and Juliet” with a weekly heist, family drama, government secrets and mustache-twirling villains. And as much as that might sound overcomplicated, “Company” manages to keep everything simple, relatively light and very fun. And what else could you ask for from a Ventimiglia vehicle?
“Company” follows Charlie (Ventimiglia), the heir to a family of conmen and thieves who think they’re getting out of the game with one last big score: $10 million from a fentanyl-dealing cartel. But when the plan goes south, Charlie and his parents (William Fichtner and Polly Draper) and sister Birdie (Sarah Wayne Callies) are on the hook to pay back the drug dealers by pulling as many jobs as they can (seemingly one heist per episode).
Amid these professional woes, Charlie meets Emma (Catherine Haena Kim), whom he believes is a lovelorn data analyst, and the pair fall hard and fast for each other after a weekend of passion. The only problem? Emma is secretly a CIA agent who’s trying to take down the very same cartel that is holding the ax over the necks of Charlie and his family.
Ventimiglia is, as one might expect, a joy to watch. His Charlie broods, charms, flirts and puts on fake mustaches and hipster hats to pull off his heists. There are flashes of his famous characters in the performance, a little bit of the warmth of Jack from “This Is Us” with a hint of the danger of Jess from “Gilmore Girls.”
But Charlie gets to have a little more fun than those serious men. He is the shining star around which the rest of the series revolves, and “Company” is successful because of his particular brand of magnetism.
That’s not to say that he is not well-matched with Kim, who is a delight. Her Emma is a tightly-strung achiever who unwinds in Charlie’s presence, and Kim keeps her from being a stereotype of a high-powered career woman. In just the first two episodes made available for review, the collection of high jinks that keep Emma and Charlie from finding out each others’ secrets is silly in a very enjoyable way.
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There’s a certain quaintness to a show like “Company,” which, while built on highly improbable coincidences and intuitive leaps, still feels down to earth. Many sexy spy or crime thrillers have failed, including ABC’s “Whiskey Cavalier” in 2019. “Company” seems familiar enough to draw you in, but it’s not a knockoff of all the other shows you’ve seen before. The series may have just the right mix of romantic, sultry drama and thrilling capers to go the distance.
And having Ventimiglia and that smile doesn’t hurt.
Story Credit: usatoday.com