Undercover (TV Series 2011–2016) Poster

(2011–2016)

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10/10
A masterpiece of the crime genre
theromanslayer8 October 2012
There is a scene in the sixth episode of the first season where the character 'Ivo' is explaining to his boss, the seasoned mafia don 'Djaro', the step-by-step procedures of the preparation for a daring heist that is worth millions. The scene is set in a gymnasium hall with large mat in the middle used for martial arts practice. As 'Ivo' is sitting down on a chair just by the mat, 'Djaro' disapprovingly looks at his shoes which are partly resting on it. 'Ivo' duly takes his feet off the mat. Why is this significant, you may ask? Well, it doesn't contribute much to the plot, but what it is, is a nod from the director: 'I know what I'm doing'. The beauty is in the detail and in nearly every scene in Pod Prikritie, there is something which functions to make it memorable, whether it be the camera angle/positioning, the lighting, the set, or a simple gesture by one of the actors. All the while, the brilliant score provides the necessary emotional backdrop against which the characters' sentiments can be played out.

A few of the reviews here take a highly critical approach towards this series, without providing much evidence to justify it. Pod Prikritie deserves so much more than this intellectual myopia. For starters, the acting, with perhaps one single exception, is marvellous. For me personally, the jewel in the crown is Mihail Bilalov who is simply magnificent in the role of 'Djaro' - Pod Prikritie's primary antagonist. Think of him as a more menacing, less humorous version of Jack Nicholson's character 'Frank Costello' from The Departed. From his facial expressions to his body language, he is a master of his role and creates a character who is both believable as a human being and as the emblematic face of Bulgarian mafia.

Pod Prikritie's realism is undisputed, and as much as that is a compliment, it is also ironically the point of contention for most Bulgarians. They know this reality; they see it on a daily basis. So why watch it on TV as well? That said, many of the characters have gathered a cult following, while quite a few of their lines have entered the standard Bulgarian lingo.

Coming back to The Departed, Pod Prikritie has often been compared to Scorsese's Oscar-winning crime feature. In many ways it is better: less stylized and more convincing. It is hardly surprising that so many foreign distributors have expressed a genuine interest in showing it in other countries. No doubt, the universal appeal of the crime genre always helps, but Pod Prikritie is as good a representative of it as any production you can think of, be it on the silver screen or on television.
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10/10
The best European movie I've ever seen!
elfelf66611 May 2015
I have watched all four seasons, thanks my wife for a translate, and I'm impressed! Extraordinary realistic movie! There is no "superman", "batman", vampires, witches and similar bullshits! This show must to receive reward! I know - the situation in ex communist countries is not good, but now I understand why those people are so sad. Because of this movie, I searched more info about Bulgaria, history, culture... Did you know that Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europa? Did you know that Bulgaria invented Cyrillic alphabet? Did you know that "yogurt" is authentic Bulgarian milk? Did you know that PC has been invented by Bulgarian scientist Atanasov? Oh, my God! We thinking those people are stupid! How can so far I have not seen the Bulgarian cinema!
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8/10
A New Hope for the Bulgarian Cinema
zlatinx10 May 2011
OK, first things first - these TV series are Bulgarian. This is very important, since, even if at some point you are able to find a localized (translated) version, maybe you will understand the plot, but won't be able to feel the movie and re-live (some) of the story. Unless you come from a post-communist Eastern Bloc country.

The plot is a classical gangster action-drama, similar to "The Godfather" or "Brigada". It features nice, realistic, almost fully believable characters - actually, most of the Bulgarians can easily recognize someone they know in the movie characters: Be it the mighty, well-connected boss; or his spectacularly sexy wife; or his lieutenants, fit with the appropriate black SUVs; or maybe the cops, filled with hatred for the world they can't understand. The series don't lack action - on the contrary - in every episode there is some eye-candy: for example a hot pursuit or gun-fight. Not too much, but still enough to take you out of the theater-style in-room-only dialog drama. Actually I love the way it was shot - combined with the intriguing plot it can be considered the best Bulgarian-made production ever.

The only downside of the series is the persistent desire of Bulgarian actors to over-do and over-act and over-pronounce. Especially if compared to a Hollywood-style counterpart, the differences in the acting are just annoying. For example, all the characters use excessively heavy grammar structures and just so perfectly correct pronunciation, even in the most intimate or action-filled parts - which might be applicable to the 8 o'clock news, but simply destroys the credibility of the scene. Leaves you thinking about the bad acting, not the story, not the plot, not the intrigue. This is such a major fault for me, that the movie would get 6/10 if it wasn't Bulgarian. That is some kind of chauvinism - but I believe the otherwise almost flawless "Под прикритие"'s creators should be encouraged to keep up the lovely work.

All in all, if you are Bulgarian, you are going to love it. Otherwise, it is very probable that you will at least enjoy it.
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10/10
A top world-class TV series
udo_199927 December 2012
Under cover (Pod prikritie) are a real top world class TV series. The only real problem for it to become hit in other countries is that it's in Bulgarian language. That's not actually something that I consider as "bad".

The plot of the movie is quite classical - there is a mafia organization and there is a cop which is undercover. What makes it really different than other "hollywood" movies is: 1. There is no "absolute" (good or bad) characters. Everybody has his own good and bad characteristics. You can see corrupted cops and corrupted judges on the side of the "good guys" and you can see good sides of people in the mafia side.

2. The connections between the different groups is at a very deep level. The series have a good plot.

3. There is always a surprise! The scenarists are definitely feeling what the audience thinks and they are taking well-balanced notes. They definitely know when one character is exhausted and they know when to take it off (killed).

As a summary - the first season is awesome. Very realistic. The second season is not worse, despite the little moving away from the realism. The third season focused more on the action (shootings, chases, etc). It's definitely for a little bit different audience taste, but again - it's not worse than others. What could make a little bad impression in the third season are the "hidden" advertisements. They are not too "hidden" at all...

It's surprising how the producers managed to keep the top level of the series for such a long time with such a low budget. That's a production which deserves to be watched!
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10/10
Pod Prikritie (Undercover) Season 1, 2 & 3
thetruthshallout3 January 2013
UPDATE April 2013: Season 1 - WITH English SUBS - is Now Available on YouTube. Just search "Pod Prikritie English subtitiles."

I consider Pod Prikritie, Season 1, to be as good as anything ever produced for TV anywhere in the world.

The show's original writing team (T. Vasileva and G. Ivanov) impress in Season 1 with creating fascinating characters, setting up the major conflicts and intricate story lines within the Bulgarian Mafia underworld.

The story, as the title ("Undercover") suggests, is about a cop who infiltrates an underworld organization. Yes, it's been done before, most recently in "The Departed", which was itself a Hollywood remake of a Hong Kong movie. The twist here is, well, it's a social commentary disguised as a TV series about the Bulgarian mafia.

The actors are all top notch. One actor's performance in particular stands out as a tour-de-force. Not enough can be said about the brilliant Mihail Bilalov, as the sociopath/crime boss "Jaro" (Peter Todjarov), who dominates throughout Season 1. It would be an understatement to say that he steals every scene.

Bilalov's Jaro is that rare performance that reminds one of the power of Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs". In fact, if Hannibal Lecter was a Bulgarian crime boss, he might have been somebody much like Jaro. Only, he would be cannibalizing an entire society.

(As an interesting bit of trivia, Mihail Bilalov only recently resurrected his acting career. Previously, he had given up acting for the past 20 years and worked as a landscape architect in France.)

The directors of the series have done a great job of getting the story on film with impressive visual flare. There is plenty of heart-pounding action, poignant drama, sex, forbidden romance, black comedy and nerve-rattling suspense.

The series, which is filmed in Bulgaria, has the production values one usually sees only in major Hollywood studio productions. At the moment (January 2013), Pod Prikritie (Undercover) is only available on Bulgarian TV or on the internet (without English subtitles).

Pod Prikritie has universal qualities and it will definitely appeal to international audiences. The series has been bought by an American company (New Films International) and, hopefully, will eventually be distributed in other markets.

I would not be surprised if this show ends up getting remade by Hollywood one day.

In conclusion...

Season 1 is brilliant. (I attribute this fact most of all to the original writing team. Watch the pilot of the series for a master-class demonstration of how to set up a gripping story and introduce unforgettable characters.)

Season 2 is... well, still very good. (Although, one can see that the series has lost the brilliance of Season 1. Hint, the original writers - Vasileva & Ivanov - moved on to work on a different show and were replaced by other screenwriters.)

Season 3 is... unfortunately, a rather mediocre type of affair. Gone is the sophistication of the story lines and characters. Even the great Bilalov does not have much to work with here. The writing gets better around mid-season, but it's obvious that the whole production has failed to sustain the high standards of Season 1 and Season 2... The story lines and the characters are much more "on the nose" and uninspired. (Hint, again, the writing team of Season 2 were replaced by new writers and you can tell.) In Season 3 there is more emphasis on pure action and less on character development and suspense. It actually feels like a different series altogether.

Overall, this is a series worthy of a worldwide audience. My advice is to watch Season 1 & 2 (the story wraps up nicely with Season 2). But beware of potential disappointment with Season 3 and proceed at your own risk.
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10/10
Great show!
assiaag10 March 2012
Personally I like the show very much. The main character Martin/Zahariev is great looking guy, very well chosen for the role and yet he leaves me frustrated because he has such a good appearance but very poor acting skills. I believe with some help he can improve though.Sunny is no good sorry is devastating how stiff she is. Djaro/Bilalov on the other hand is great I've never thought it's possible. If this was an American show he can be most definitely considered for Emmy nomination. As for Ivo/Baharov...well I can't think of anything bad to say for him either! He is sexy, bad...every woman's fantasy. His acting is very convincing. When a bad character makes you root for him that definitely means he's doing his job very well. Popov, Kosuma, Kukata are also great characters in the show, very memorable. As for the story I would not change a bit of it. Every Bulgarian knows that's like a true story. I sure hope that more people will be able to see it in the future. I can't wait for the 3th season!
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10/10
Holy mother of God!
a-kaax6 January 2013
Mihail Bilalov (Djaro) is the PERFECT actor for a mafia boss. His looks, his manners, his form of speech, there's nothing wrong with how he portrays his character. He's just incredible. So is the rest of the casting crew (with few exceptions). I'm happy that the Bulgarian taxpayer's money are finally going into something worth watching. In the series there are a lot of Bulgarian inside jokes, so I assume it would be slightly harder for international viewers to understand the jokes from time to time. Otherwise the show may not be introducing new things to the genre (is that even possible nowadays?), but it's perfecting on the most important parts. TV series like Breaking Bad have much more higher budgets and their production quality is way better, but Pod Prikritie (Undercover) is still a worthy opponent.
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10/10
The best from Bulgarian cinema I've seen lately!
anomis_ananda3 January 2013
I've read the other user reviews and I must disagree with those who say that these TV series are bad in any way! The actors are very well suited for their parts and you can see the characters' development along with the evolution of the cast's acting skills. The plot is edgy and well written, with minor flaws, but which movie doesn't have flaws? There are a few actors/actresses who fail to depict a proper character and whose language skills while being a part of their dialogues, are purely awful (Irena Miliankova "Sunny" and Milena Nikolova "Adriana"), but the rest are doing a great job.

The screenplay is extremely close to the world of modern Bulgaria- the political games, the judicial system problems, the corruption, the underground mob hiding behind the dirty world of business, the drug markets... Whoever says this is far away from our reality, is someone who lives in a pink soap bubble and has no real idea about the contemporary world in our country! Even some of the scenes are based on actual events and scandals, involving famous political figures and mob bosses.

I give it a 9/10 because I know it's not perfect, but it still is the best from Bulgarian cinema I've seen since the mid 1990's.
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10/10
Review of the "Undercover" drama
frozi-203-37130028 December 2012
The sophistication of the TV series is beyond all expectations of the average viewer. Watching this astonishing sitcom you will experience unique insight into the underground world of some members of the 21-th century Bulgarian society. The twists and turns in all of the episodes vividly remind of Shakespeare Reinaissance characters of the era. The endless spirit of the characters transports us into a parallel universe where the power is endless and unprecedented.It might seem surprising that only now Zahari Baharov won the Ascer Prize for Best Actor and two years after his nomination for Golden Nipple — his major role, first published in Semkovo in 1992, appearing in English translation. Then again, politically radical fiction is often a tough sell in our market. While Kukata was an outspoken member of his community in his best-known work his politics are embedded in allegory or fantasy, allowing readers to view them as loosely humanist or to overlook them entirely.
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10/10
Great TV series!
user-580-74553213 January 2013
One of the best Bulgarian TV series ever! Great script, which is very close to real life and the real mafia in Bulgaria no so long ago.

Also the artists are just great!!! They play wonderful and very professional.

I want to say huge THANK you to the producers and all actors of this TV Series. Keep on the great work!

I am still watching season 1 but I'm already captured by the action and stunning moments. It keeps my attention every minute.

And since the stupid site wants me 10 lines of text, here is some bullshit to fill this requirement.

Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah.
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10/10
Brilliant!
simonwoollard8 March 2018
I had never seen this Bulgarian TV series before and was unsure how it would come across with English subtitles. I was bowled over by it and am now absolutely hooked. The storyline, production and acting is top notch - absolutely superb and as good, if not better, than anything produced elsewhere in Europe and the USA. I'm watching in the UK on Netflix but for some reason series 3 is omitted from the five produced.
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Great BG series, now with Eng subs!! see link below
larskollind22 February 2013
Finally with English subs!! :)search for "pod prikritie English" on youtube.

Gl and enjoy this great series!

he specially trained agent Martin has been appointed to the most dangerous mission in Bulgaria - to go undercover in the gang of the mafia boss Djaro. On his way he has to encounter a lot of challenges in order to completely become part of the criminal world. His task becomes more complicated when he meets the big boss's girl Sunny. While undercover he gets a promotion in the mafia hierarchy and becomes part of the world - full of crime, violence and corruption. "Undercover" is a modern crime series which realistically depicts the reality of the underground world in Bulgaria. It is a fictional series and is not related to any real persons. However the plot contains a number of real events happening in the modern life that cover the pages of newspapers and magazines-gangster wars, drug market redistribution, forgery, gun shots in the city center, corruption schemes, bank robberies etc
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10/10
Masterpiece of crime
ondskappe8 February 2013
"Undercover" depicts very realistically the gang life, as it is, not only in Bulgaria, but worldwide. It makes a thorough and deep analysis of the criminal world, it shows its hierarchy, participants, but also highlights gangs' human side. This movie will take you to a tour, full of excitement, fear and happy moments. You will feel everything together with the actors and you will fear for their life, just like in reality.

The movie is a mixture of shocking thriller, psychological drama, but also it is full with comedy vibes and funny moments. You will feel guilty for loving the gangs and their human characteristics.

The plot is so unexpected and intense that you will hardly wait the next series.
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7/10
Cliché,but very fun to watch
yasenkiranov7 October 2012
Yep,the title pretty much sums it all up.You won't find a bigger amalgamation of movie clichés anywhere else.It's corny and predictable as hell.However,it's a very easy and fun to watch action flick.And,honestly,it's much more entertaining to watch this,as opposed to "Glass Home".Plus,this is the first show of it's kind in Bulgaria,so you have to cut it some slack.And it was made with a low budget.If you like movies like "Commando" or "Die Hard" 4 ,you will enjoy this show. If you're not a fan of cheesy action movies,I wouldn't recommend it.

Overall,this is one of the better new entries in Bulgarian cinema. 7,5/10
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4/10
Season 4 ruined it...
mikeyb54015 May 2014
This was an excellent show from Season 1-3. I couldn't wait to watch it until season 4. I stopped watching after ep. 5

I was very impressed how Bulgarian cinematography with plot writing was becoming captivating for the viewer. But Season 4 was awful! The characters became fluid with no substance. Still chasing an old feud, which doesn't seem to be ending. Way too much back and forth with the same old BS. The "gangsters" are just becoming foolish and just not captivating for me. There is just too much posing but not really portraying the true character of the rebel.

And the good guys, well they just became complete idiots in this season.

The relationship with the characters is lost. I don't know who to like in this season. I hope next season will be back the way it was
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10/10
Wow
alyssaga12 October 2017
Amazing show. Really impressed with the quality and the story line is so captivating. There is so much to like about this show. The acting is good, writing is terrific, action is intense. It's nothing like I've ever seen before. I immediately watched seasons 2 and 3 and somehow it keeps getting better and better. Bravo!
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3/10
Poor at best
onthefloorthere24 August 2012
"Pod prikritie" is actually fun to watch if you don't consider it a serious production.

This series is part of a trend in Bulgarian visual entertainment where local peculiarities are dressed in shiny Hollywood-style camera work, soundtrack usage and stock characters, resulting in a product that should, at least on paper, be interesting to follow. But it's not. And there are several reasons for that.

An extremely corny and ultra-exploited plot is one of the most disappointing things about "Pod prikritie". Bulgarian viewers might enjoy the whole story because it's impossible to revolve in such a manner in real-life Bulgaria itself, or maybe because such a product appears in Bulgarian for the first time, thus feeling closer to the local audience. Its cast and crew fail to escape from their theatrical manners, making this look like a college play captured on film. This said, its 9+ mark and reviews defining it as "brilliant" can simply be dismissed.

The characters don't really improve the general picture - they are far from believable, very single-purposed, lacking any sort of background that doesn't look forced, and don't deserve the compassion of the viewer. Apart from the abysmal lack of acting skills, actors themselves are certainly far from physically appealing, this doing little to evoke any sympathy towards their characters. This is especially valid for Dzharo, the potbellied "villain" who tends to be more laughable than fearsome, or Popov, who shares the same working class anatomy but tends to be a complete misfit in the whole picture.

Finally, one should commend the style of the series - it has the shiny prime time, audience-grabbing package, but the content inside it makes it look uneven and inadequate. The makers of "Pod prikritie" have taken the right turn on the road of high-revenue action entertainment, but still seem to be stuck on the wannabe phase.
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Great series but with a weak ending
searchanddestroy-112 August 2018
I was astonished by the Bulgarian TV show, pulled by terrific performances, although cheesy action sequences. But the story telling was taut, sharp as a knife. Only the very end is disappointing. Highly inspired by Marty Scorcese's DEPARTED.
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4/10
Cheap Thrills
therealtruthhurts10 July 2018
Nothing new to see here, while the plot is more than often inconsistent. Causes and effects don't fit and the persistence on displaying certain items throughout the series serves obvious advertisement (which shouldn't). A quickie to jump on the riding series train (caused by the need of new platforms for content). Nothing more.

Not worth watching.
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