Netflix's FUBAR is a Depressingly Routine Comeback Vehicle for ...
Arnold plays Luke Brunner, a spy who ready to retire—the star is 75, after all—when he’s called in on a final mission to rescue an asset from the grip of a villain named Boro (Gabriel Luna). Brunner can easily get behind enemy lines because he has known Boro since he was a child. In fact, he helped him out as he grew up, largely out of guilt for killing Boro’s bad guy dad. Well, it didn’t work because Boro is the same kind of nasty, power-hungry maniac always looking for something appropriately scary like a dirty bomb or nuclear material.
When Brunner gets to Boro’s compound, he’s startled to discover that the undercover agent he must rescue is his daughter Emma (the well-cast Monica Barbaro). Somehow, the fact that both Brunners are superspies is information they were able to keep from one another and other loved ones like Luke’s ex-wife Tally (Fabiana Udenio) and Emma’s boyfriend Carter (Jay Baruchel). And so “FUBAR” becomes an alternating sequence of spy missions and therapy conversations between father and daughter—sometimes quite literally with a CIA shrink nicknamed Dr. Pepper (Scott Thompson). The idea that the Brunners save the world and then hash out ALL of the family issues of their entire lives as if they’ve never had a conversation before ends up being the backbone of the show. It’s more than a little ridiculous, but it’s the repetition that really drains "FUBAR." If I had to hear one more time how Luke wasn’t there for Emma or how Emma might repeat the same problems as her dad in her new relationship, I would have jumped from the spy plane these two often use.
To be fair, episodes do take time to highlight a few supporting players. “FUBAR” often plays out a lot like one of those acronym CBS shows (“NCIS,” “S.W.A.T.,” etc.) wherein the handsome leading man and gorgeous leading woman are surrounded by wisecracking supporting players to lighten the mood. In this case, it’s the clever Barry (Milan Carter) who has a crush on new girl, Tina (Aparna Brielle). Luke’s closest in-field allies are the suave Aldon (Travis Van Winkle) and the sarcastic Roo (Fortune Feimster). Van Winkle carries himself enough like a star to be interesting, but these non-characters more often grate than intrigue. I found the courtship of Tina and Barry particularly annoying. Watching them finally become a couple is like watching kids on a Nickelodeon show discover dating.