Pilot Preview: CBS's Cyber-brained Thriller Intelligence

By Tim Surette

Jul 11, 2013

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com. 

Intelligence – Mondays at 10pm on CBS (Midseason)

STARRING AND CREATED BY: Sawyer is returning to TV! Josh Holloway (Lost) stars, with Marg Helgenberger (CSI), Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time), Michael Rady (Emily Owens, M.D.), John Billingsley (True Blood), and James Martinez there for support. The series is based on an unpublished novel by John Dixon, and was adapted for television by Michael Seitzman (North Country, 2012's passed-over pilot Americana).

THE GIST: Gabriel (Holloway) is a Cyber Command agent (and possible Ralph Lauren male model) with a special tech upgrade implanted in his brain. A microchip allows him to tap into "the information grid," which means he can access data satellites, the internet, radio, and the other invisible information that flies through the air straight from his brain! It's like Google Glass, minus the fashion disaster. He's basically the government's most prized weapon, but his human instincts get in the way of him being 100-percent cooperative. To keep him in line and give him someone to flirt with, Gabriel's no-fun boss Lillian (Helgenberger) assigns him a pretty handler/babysitter (Ory). Lots of people who don't speak English get shot. 

SNAP JUDGMENT: This techno-mumbo-jumbo-babble-shooting-punching-one-lining thriller sits comfortably in CBS's rocking chair as an example of crowd-pleasing patriotic action-science-fiction. Hunky Holloway continues to be a threat to most guys' heterosexuality, and he's pretty perfect for the role of Gabriel, which is a mish-mash of Jason Bourne, the guy from Human Target, and a Bluetooth headset. The pilot's strength is in its legitimately great action sequences, as Holloway's stunt double jumps off walls and through cars, often using his power-up to wiggle out of difficult situations. It seems like Ory and Holloway might be able to develop some sort of chemistry as well, because that's what hot people do. I also got the sense that Intelligence might dip into serialized story territory, much like CBS's other gizmo thriller Person of Interest. It's worth a watch if you're into fun shooters from major networks. Your dad will LOVE this.

PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: Intelligence's pilot uses a pretty nifty trick to get some exposition out of the way. Gabriel will walk around a freeze-framed scene that he's reconstructed in his head and details will appear like pop-up windows. The rest of the backstory is unapologetically laid out by Helgenberger's Lillian, in matter-of-fact fashion just to get it over with, which was probably a smart decision. Just get it done and move on! In general, the pilot does a good job of getting straight to business.

FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: Ory already has a following from her gig on Once Upon a Time, but this will be the first time America really gets to see her without the dyed hair and heavy makeup. Holloway can also take his stardom to the next level.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: The idea of Gabriel being able to tap into the information superhighway is neat, but it's also one of those things that the writers can turn on or off at will to convenient get him out of unfortunate situation—or keep him stuck in one. How many times will we see Gabriel get captured while the bad guys run jammers so he can't get a signal? The show doesn't have as smart of a premise as Person of Interest, where The Machine isn't under the control of its users.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Unless something changes, Intelligence won't be a GREAT show, but it should be entertaining enough to get by. On a scale of 1 to 10, how about a solid 7?

(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)

1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama

2. Intelligence - Josh Holloway stars as a Cyber Command agent who has Wi-Fi in his brain

1. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process 

2. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship

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  • SesseKitty Dec 19, 2013

    Is that Michael Jackson on the picture with Holloway? I'm sorry, I just can't get over this impression.

  • carinawchrist Oct 30, 2013

    If Josh is starring ... im on ! I Like the trailers and the premise of his brain being upgraded.

  • ltcomstella Aug 30, 2013

    i also think it's a new 'chuck' but really it's 'jake 4.0' which was before chuck about a guy who accidently is infected with nanites.. lead played by covert affairs 'augy' i forget his name.

  • Goqklf56 Sep 22, 2013

    Jake 2.0 was a great show. It was much more down-to-earth and serious than Chuck ever was, Chuck tried too hard full of boring clichés.

    As for this one, unfortunately it's too popularistic to be a great show as Tim said, but it could be entertaining, for a while.

  • Anguis Aug 29, 2013

    I agree with the other posters who say it seems alot like Chuck. An attractive handler,,,hmm wonder where that will lead...Nothing truly original...though that doesnt surprise me these days...

  • ErlendJohanne Jul 25, 2013

    Sounds great! But when you say at the top of the article "Mondays at 10pm on CBS (Midseason)", you actually mean that it premieres Feb 24, 2014, right?

  • VanDeKapp Jul 16, 2013

    Reminds me a lot of Chuck, so i think i'm going to love it! =)

  • edge1710 Jul 12, 2013

    So this is Chuck if Bryce hadn't destroyed the intersect mainframe.

  • sloey316 Jul 12, 2013

    This sounds just like Jake 2.0.

  • ltcomstella Aug 30, 2013

    darn beat me to it ;)

  • JT_Kirk Jul 12, 2013

    Sounds like Knight Rider on foot.

  • tv_gonzo Jul 12, 2013

    This whole seeing information or whatever sounds to me just like the same wonky premise that revolution had. Writers with no idea about physics just coming up with stuff. If it's done right i won't care. But since i couldn't bear Revolution for more than a few episodes i can't imagine me watching this.

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