“The Americans” might be over — but espionage is still alive and well on TV.
“The Enemy Within,” a new NBC drama series premiering Monday (10 p.m.), follows Erica Shepherd (Jennifer Carpenter, “Dexter”) — an incarcerated former CIA operative and notorious traitor — and FBI agent Will Keaton (Morris Chestnut), who comes to her for help in catching a criminal spy.
In other words, it’s the “Silence of the Lambs” dynamic— but with spies this time.
“I think [that’s true] if you switch the gender roles,” says the show’s creator, Ken Woodruff, 39. “We weren’t thinking about [‘The Silence of the Lambs’] going in, because [Erica] is not a serial killer or a murderer. What I think is accurate is that there’s always an agenda, something beneath the surface, a level of inherent mistrust.
“To me, that’s what made the scenes between Hannibal and Clarice [in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’]sparkle.”
Woodruff says the idea for the show first came from his interest in the genre, and it grew as he dug into research on espionage.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of the spy thriller genre. The ‘Bourne’ and ‘Mission Impossible’ franchises were big influences,” he says. “But in researching this world, the idea for ‘The Enemy Within’ really started to take shape when I learned of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. They weren’t spies, they were spy hunters.
“And that’s what this show is all about,” he says. “How do you catch the smartest, most well-trained operatives in the world? I knew I wanted to see a higher caliber of villain onscreen. And that meant the women who went after these villains needed to be equally brilliant and relentless.