Kudos to Milo Ventimiglia for easily switching gears from angst-ridden Jack Pearson to con artist Charlie Nicoletti in his new ABC romantic dramedy “The Company You Keep.”
The sequence, premiering Feb. 19 at 10 p.m., frees Ventimiglia to unbuckle Jack’s suffocating, overwrought “This Is Us” straitjacket and breathe — and he exhales with an easygoing, charming efficiency (sans the dangerous Jack Pearson mustache) in a sequence pulsating with a “Moonlighting”-type vibe, albeit with a radically totally different plotline.
Right here’s the setup: Charlie Nicoletti and his household — mother Fran (Polly Draper), dad Leo (William Fichtner) and massive sister Birdie (Sarah Wayne Callies) — personal a bar in Baltimore and lead double-lives as criminals pulling off high-end heists (considered one of which landed Charlie within the slammer). They work along with guile, high-tech tools, disguises, alter-egos — the works — however their newest rip-off, stealing $10 million from an Irish crime syndicate, goes awry when Charlie’s ostensible fiancee grabs the money for herself and vanishes and not using a hint. Name it the Large Kiss-off.
Charlie goes to a bar to drown his sorrows and meets Emma Hill (Catherine Haena Kim), an undercover CIA agent posing as a knowledge analyst at a “logistics agency.” She, too, is within the throes of a romance gone bitter after dumping her dishonest boyfriend. Charlie tells Emma he’s a yoga teacher; she tells him she’s an ex-beauty pageant contestant-turned-NASA rocket scientist. Like that. They get drunk, spend the night time collectively (chastely) and uncover they’ve emotions for one another regardless of that one small glitch about their actual identities.
Enter Daphne Finch (Felisha Terrell), the Irish syndicate’s Ivy League-educated “marketing consultant” who exhibits up on the Nicolettis’ bar demanding they fork over $15 million to free her boss from jail … or else. The icing on the cake? Emma is working with the FBI to deliver down that very same syndicate (which brokers in fentanyl) — establishing an unwitting cat-and-mouse sport between she and Charlie as their alter-egos romance takes a flip for the hot-and-heavier.
That’s all within the sequence opener. In Episode 2 — that includes one other heist, extra footsie between Emma and Charlie and extra threats from Daphne — we study a bit extra about everybody, together with one stunning revelation regarding a primary character. As soon as the exposition is out of the best way, “The Firm You Preserve” glides alongside at a pleasing, breezy tempo, and also you’ll end up rooting for Charlie and Emma to make a go of it regardless of, effectively, all the things else. There’s good on-screen chemistry between Ventimiglia and the Queens-born Kim (“Ballers,” “FBI,” “Good Hassle”), and stable help from a superb forged of seasoned TV professionals in Draper (“thirtysomething”), Fichtner (“Mother”) and Callies (“The Strolling Useless”), who, like Fitchner, co-starred on Fox’s “Jail Break.”
“The Firm You Preserve” is the kind of nice, late-season diversion that doesn’t take itself too significantly, mixing motion with a contact of caprice. It ought to make a stable addition to ABC’s Sunday-night lineup.