Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In Which I Review Intelligence (1x1)

When it comes to deciding what new TV show to watch, you can't go wrong with sticking to actors you've enjoyed in the past. When Intelligence was announced, I wasn't necessarily drawn to the actual plot of the show so much as I really like the two lead actors. Josh Holloway is forever cemented in my head as the sarcastic bad-boy-with-the-heart-of-gold con man James "Sawyer" Ford on LOST, one of the shows that changed the whole way I view TV.  Meghan Ory played Little Red Riding Hood (and the wolf!)/Ruby on Once Upon a Time for the first two seasons. Both are good actors who have given me "TV happiness" in the past, so I figured Intelligence was at least worth a peek. 
Sadly, even Holloway and Ory can't save this show. It is essentially a "Frankenstein" type premise about a new type of human entering our world and having to deal with a world that hasn't changed, but rather he has. It's nothing new or unique; in fact, NBC had a much more successful attempt at this concept with Chuck a few years back. Let's break it down. 

Gabriel Vaughn 
Short version: secret agent man with computer in his head.
Long version: Gabriel is "a gift;" a man with a rare genetic mutation that made him perfect for a new experiment, Vaughn is a veteran of the Afghanistan/Iran conflict. He is already a fantastic solider, even if he's uncooperative, insubordinate, sarcastic, myopic and unbearable. So, he's Sawyer but with a new haircut. It's not really Josh Hollway's fault; that's the price of being part of the one of the most significant shows in the past 10 years. Sawyer was so well crafted and portrayed that TV execs would be simpletons to not try and recreate him. But while Gabriel was unlocking doors with his brain and beating Chinese enemies to a pulp, all I could think of was how much better it would come across if his shirt was off and there was a black smoke monster chasing him. And, as is now required in dramas such as this, the cold exterior belies a wounded soul. Gabriel lost his wife Emelia recently; the official line on Emelia is that she was an enemy of the state and died in an attack she was meant to stop but turned traitor. Of course, this is probably all hogwash and Emelia is most likely alive and never intended to betray anyone. It's all very predictable.
Gabriel, after loosing his wife, underwent the "Clockwork" trials which is described as "the Manhattan project for the 21st Century." In other words, he's the newest most deadly weapon the USA possess. Because of his rare genetic mutation, Gabriel was able to undergo surgery and have a computer chip implanted in his brain. This chip allows him to access all wireless telecommunications and process it like a computer. He can sense technology and "read" it before anyone else. He can also use that technology to his own advantage: like unlocking private files, manipulating locks, and setting up "crime boards" that only he can see that allow him to analyze crime scenes like a giant computer but the with the advantage of having a soldier/cop instincts. It's nothing new. All the cops and forensic analysts in TV are supremely smart, without having chips in their head. The major selling point for the show to advertisers isn't "another cop procedural" it's "look how hot Josh Holloway is!" I foresee a lot of brooding stares into the distance in the future of this show.

Riley Neal

Ory plays Riley Neal, secret service agent wunderkind. A loyal, brave, protector who has recently received accommodation from the President for protecting his children, she was hand selected for the job of protecting Gabriel. And of course, Gabriel wants nothing to do with her; he doesn't need protecting and he certainly doesn't need some this girl to do it. He is however at least moderately intrigued by her. Gabriel's chip allows him to "read"people, meaning that just by looking at you, he can download all your personal history and know everything about you. I have no idea how as people are not wireless machines. Anyway, turns out Riley has a sealed juvenile record. It takes the whole episode but the bonding moment between the Gabriel and Riley comes when Riley finally tells him what the record was: she killed her abusive step father.
It was at this point that I actually wrote OMG, she's KATE. Did they try and get Evangiline Lily but found her too busy with shooting the Hobbit 2? Ory even looks like Kate from LOST. The writers have tried to recreate Skate from LOST but with the added "cop drama" twist that is neither new nor interesting. I can't get a read on Ory's character, Riley. She's exactly what you expect her to be. Snarky and won't take any of Gabriel's lip but is also uniquely qualified for this job, reluctant at first but agrees in the end to babysit. There is also a lack of chemistry between Gabriel and Riley, which is surprising given that both actors ooze sexuality in their own right.

There are some more minor characters such as Lillian Strand, head of the service that has Gabriel under their wing. I really have no idea which intelligence service. Was it left vague? Did I miss that part of the show? Mostly, Strand's main role in the pilot was as "exposition lady." She gives Riley the background on the Clockwork project and on Gabriel himself. But outside of that, she did very little in the action portions of the show. Most likely, Strand has some sort of unique background or story--there was mention of a father who is brought up without needing to be explained meaning that he is someone everyone just knows. Her combative relationship with Gabriel is better than Riley's with Gabriel. There is at least some spark with Strand/Gabriel.
There is also Dr. Shenandoah Cassidy (yes, really) who is the creator of the computer chip that Gabriel has in his head. He is like a father figure to Gabriel which means that Gabe has no family of his own. Naturally. The broody sulky broken soldier can't have a happy family, goes against the trope! Cassidy's main role in the episode was to be kidnapped and forced to operate on a Chinese agent, implanting a second chip to make her into a super solider. The Chinese didn't think it worked, but of course it really did, as the last few seconds of the show demonstrated (that was supposed to be the big "hook" for the show but it was flat as it was way too predictable.) I suspect Dr. Cassidy will be kidnapped at regular intervals both to prove just how valuable Gabe's chip is and to further the story of Gabe and Cassidy.

Overall Grade: C-
Skip it. 

I'm sorry to say but the only thing I can recommend about this show are the graphics, which were very good. The storyline is nothing new but rather full of familiar TV tropes that just has a new hot male lead who will be popular with the female viewers. I won't be watching the show after this one. It was lazy, sleepy, and the whole time I was looking at the clock wondering how much time it had left. Josh Holloway's return to TV isn't long for this world and looks like Ory really did get royally screwed by the ONCE execs who let her go after making her a series regular. I had hoped this show would be successful enough to justify what Adam and Eddy did to Ory, but I don't think it's meant to be.

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