One of the axioms of the intelligence business is that moles can usually be found in pairs, lending one another support. Whether that’s actually true in real life (since the Brits ferreted out Kim Philby and his buddies in the early 1950s, most spies uncovered in the West have been singletons), it seems ironclad in television: If you find a Homeland or a Man From U.N.C.L.E., then The Americans or Mission: Impossible will surely be lurking nearby.
So it is that another pair of spy shows debut this week. Amazon’s Patriot is a droll farce, an espionage version of Fargo. And NBC’s Taken is what you might guess, a bloodless 17th-generation clone of the Liam Neeson films about a vengeful CIA veteran, “bloodless” of course being a metaphorical description of the show’s spirit and certainly not its special effects. Television critic Glenn Garvin takes a look.