Monday, January 6, 2014

Intelligence Has A Future


Big news about the premiere of Intelligence is the reemergence of Lost's Josh Holloway as an American cyber-crime intelligence operative.
The first hour gets a special preview on Tuesday Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. on CTV (and CBS).
Holloway shot to TV stardom on the mega-hit Lost for six years playing the lovable con man James "Sawyer" Ford.
Then he jumped to such movie hits as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Paranoia and Battle Of The Year.
And in this smart, sassy techno hit he's perfectly cast as Gabe Vaughan who has had a super-computer microchip implanted deep in his brain.
This connects him to the worldwide grid of American computers continually monitoring terrorism. And the series comes on just as the debate over spying on ordinary U.S. citizens has hit the news.
It comes as a surprise to me that the new show is made by ABC at the Disney Burbank lot but it is running on CBS which is trying to break out of its mold as the network of older audiences.
Holloway who is now 44 is obviously very buff as he butts heads with all sorts of terrorists and baddies and effortlessly mows them down without blinking an eye.
For sheer violence this one seems to be better suited to a more macho network than the very genteel CBS. But the first hour is also well written as it tries to frame the current debate about the conflict between computer technology and simple humanity.
Production details are terrific except for the opening which is set in the Himalayas but unconvincingly resembles the American Northwest forest.
This is also another Odd Couple pairing as the rash and often unpredictable gets a female officer to lead him in the right direction.
As played by Meghan Ory the character of Riley Neal is super smart in her own right but when placed with Vaughan they together make a team dependent on each other.
Gabe is an action man who wade into tough situations while Riley is trained in the legalistics of what government agents can and can't do. And because Gabe's wife has been kidnapped by the enemy that means no imminent hanky panky between these two. Or does it?
One familiar face is provided by Marg Helgenberger (CSI) as the veteran head of this intelligence unit.
As is normal on a Disney production the technical aspects are super including a fantastic set with all the requisite bells and whistles. But I felt there were too many gimmicky and this fixation threatens to ruin the story line.
The challenge ahead is not to turn Intelligence into a rehash of other spy shows. Already some critics have dubbed it a new $6 Million Man.
And there's the problem of fitting into the usually staid CBS schedule. I'm wondering if Intelligence better belongs on Fox or even one of the cable weblets?
The second episode moves to its regular time slot of Mondays at 10 p.m on January 13. Got that?
And just to make the point, yes, there was a wonderful CBC-TV series called Intelligence shot in Vancouver, running 2006 to 2008.
Both CBS and Fox tried to make U.S. versions and both failed.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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