TV Review: NBC’s ‘Allegiance’

Allegiance stars Gavin Stenhouse as a rookie CIA analyst whose parents, played by Hope Davis and Scott Cohen, just happen to be deactivated Russian spies — who are reactivated with a mission to turn their son into a double agent for Russian Intelligence. The NBC thriller, premiering Thursday at 10 p.m., is executive produced by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau). The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Look, take Allegiance away from the highly unflattering comparison to The Americans and you’ve got a fine high-octane broadcast network thriller. But you also have a show that might not even to able to live up to itself, much less any other show. And that could be a real issue going forward.”
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

“The show was created by George Nolfi based on an Israeli drama called Ta Gordin, or Gordin’s Cell. But it’s clear the show means to tell viewers, ‘If you like The Americans, you’ll like Allegiance.’ Well, maybe — if you scrunch up your face and squint really tight.”
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“The broader problem with Allegiance is also its starkest difference from The Americans. Its present-day setting robs the show of urgency and psychological impact. It’s certainly refreshing to see a show about terrorism that isn’t walking the narrow, porous line between harnessing the zeitgeist and peddling Islamophobia. But the idea of assimilated Russian spies doesn’t tap into primal fears the way it did during the Cold War.”
Joshua Alston, A.V. Club

“Like Homeland, this spy thriller was adapted from an Israeli series, and the basic Russian-moles-among-us plot sounds an awful lot like FX’s Cold War homage The Americans, merely relocated into a contemporary setting. Putting those concerns aside, what emerges proves fast-paced and enjoyable in a check-your-brain-at-the-door kind of way, with the disclaimer that the perilous premise can take a left turn from amusingly silly to distractingly ridiculous at any moment.”
Brian Lowry, Variety

“Is Allegiance likely to become your favorite series? Probably not. But if you make it to the end of tonight's premiere, odds are you'll want to see where the show heads next. And that would be more than OK with NBC.”
Robert Bianco, USA Today

“The central premise feels much more like a launching pad for a miniseries or ‘limited event’ run, but if the creative team can maintain the quality of the first few episodes, they might find viewers declaring their loyalty to Allegiance.”
Sarah Rodman, Boston Globe

“Imitations rarely improve on the original, and Allegiance is no exception: Russian characters sprinkle their conversation with Russian words, but this espionage thriller is still a fairly conventional network series and not nearly as subtle and complex as The Americans. That doesn’t mean the NBC version is unwatchable, though, just more homogenized and predictable. Allegiance is a contorted spy story with a Slavic kick to it, and it’s kind of fun.”
Alessandra Stanley, New York Times