The Cold War is officially over, so the concept of husband-and-wife KGB operatives killing, lying and spying in Washington -- under the nose of their FBI agent neighbor -- may seem a bit far-fetched.
But the arrest this week of a suspected Russian agent posing as a New York banker lends new relevance to "The Americans," the critically acclaimed thriller returning to US television screens on Wednesday.
Evgeny Buryakov, 39, was captured following more than two years of FBI surveillance as he allegedly fed economic intelligence to Moscow and sought to recruit US residents as sources.
One of the central questions in "The Americans" -- which is set in the 1980s -- is whether the FBI will ever cotton onto Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.
"It's obviously got a relevance today in that it parallels things that we hear in the news," said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University.
"It has all the action and intrigue of being a spy series, but at the same time, it's a series about a marriage, about a family."
Russell, who is dating her co-star Rhys, said the tense, slow-building FX show is really all about the characters.
"Even in the context of this spy show, it's really just a look at a marriage," Russell says.
Season three opens in 1982 -- the year that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev died as the Cold War appeared to be heating up.
The series focuses on the KGB's insistence that Elizabeth and Philip start grooming their 14-year-old daughter Paige to spy for Moscow and the arguments which that order provokes between the couple.
The relationship between the two -- whose marriage was arranged at the start for the KGB's purposes -- is constantly tested by the demands of their job and the love affairs they maintain with a tangled web of informants.
To make matters worse, the family lives in the Washington suburbs next door to FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), whose own liaison with a KGB double-agent unravelled at the end of last season.
- Russians mad about stereotypes -