Hey TV.com, Should I Watch CBS's Bionic Sawyer a.k.a. Intelligence?
It's time for the major networks to say, "Wait, wait! We've got this show, too!" Otherwise known as the midseason. But the stigma of the midseason being a dumping ground for network leftovers no longer applies, as everyone is pushing for a year-round television schedule to satiate our bottomless hunger for on-air entertainment. And next up on the release schedule is CBS's Intelligence, a new action thriller with a technological bent. Is it worth squeezing into your already busy schedule, or is it last-resort viewing? I've seen the pilot and I'll try to help you make up your mind in this edition of I've Already Made Up My Mind About Whether I'm Going to Watch This Show But Let's Hear TV.com's Opinion Anyway.
Let's get right to it. What in the world is Intelligence?
One of the government's billion top-secret operations centers on a dude named Gabriel. He works for Cyber Command (an armed forces division focusing on cyberspace operations), and he's jacked up with a computer-y microchip in his fleshy brain that allows him to access the "global information grid," which means he can tap into the internet, radio and telephone signals, and satellite feeds WITH HIS MIND! Using his special wireless connectedness (and rugged good looks), he protects freedom and everything that strip malls and bald eagles stand for as a special operative for the U.S. government. As we enter the series, he's assigned a sexy new handler and *SPROING* there's lots of sexual tension, regular tension, and a cat-and-mouse game of respect.
Who created the show, and who's in it?
Producer Michael Seitzman (North Country) created the series off an idea partially inspired by the upcoming book Phoenix Island from John Dixon. But let's talk about the cast! Josh Holloway FINALLY gets post-Lost regular TV role as Gabriel, thus insuring that every one of the series' alums except for Matthew Fox is currently doing something in the business. Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time's Red Riding Hood) plays Gabriel's watchdog/partner Riley, CSI's Marg Helgenberger plays Gabriel's uptight boss, and John Billingsley plays the wacky scientist who created the superchip in Gabe's brain.
When does Intelligence upload to our TV sets?
Intelligence premieres Tuesday, January 7 at 9pm on CBS, but that's just a special preview. The series will move to its regular time slot of Mondays at 10pm the following week, on January 13, with Intelligence taking over for Hostages.
Who will like Intelligence?
Intelligence is a safe next step in CBS's plan to branch out a bit from the formulaic procedurals it's known for, not venturing too far from the "AMERICA! F*CK YEAH!"ness of NCIS but also bringing the flag-waving into the digital age with its Bionic Man gimmick. Because of this, I think it's more likely to be appreciated by fans of CBS's typical procedurals rather than, say, viewers of the morally complex Person of Interest.
What's smart about Intelligence?
Grab the Milk Duds and put some sticky syrup on the bottom of your shoes, because Intelligence is mindless fare meant to emulate summer Cineplex entertainment. And it achieves that goal with a cast that's likable, some solid action sequences (Sawyer does some Parkour!), and a sprinkling of humor to keep things light. Holloway is really great in this, and Gabriel is almost the same character as Sawyer in Lost Seasons 3 through 6, which is what we all want, right? He also does this little trick where he can walk through a virtual representation of a scene as reconstructed by evidence, and the effects involved are pretty cool. And though the pilot is pretty standard stuff, there's a wrinkle at the end that suggests the show could be a lot more than it appears to be and branch out into a big-time serialized action thriller.
What's dumb about Intelligence?
Oh man, the pilot is oh-so pilot-y! The writers clearly want you to care about these characters, so their backstories are laboriously laid out. It's a chore to get through them because they're basically informational downloads, and since they're mostly full of dry info, by the end of the episode you won't feel very connected to anyone in particular. And I'm curious as to how the show might limit Gabriel's powers, because the answer could make or break a series about a bionic dude. When he's online, he can do anything, but if a satellite isn't in the right position or, I dunno, some interference from a microwave jams his talents, then he's in trouble. Managing his abilities convincingly will require some good writing; otherwise Intelligence's creative team will just be flipping his on/off switch whenever they need to increase the danger, and that will get boring really fast.
So, should I watch it?
I don't think anyone is going to hate this show, but based on the pilot, you'll probably want to look elsewhere for the next great action thriller. Tune in with low expectations, and let Intelligence slightly surpass them!
Let's take a look at a trailer!
Intelligence premieres Tuesday, January 7 at 9pm on CBS, then moves to its regular time slot on Monday, January 13 at 10pm.
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