Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence'
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Airs:Mondays at 10 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "He's like Chuck, only without that pesky nerdiness. And likability."
Quick Response: Josh Holloway's character in "Intelligence" is like Chuck Bartowski except that his Intersect is more of an in-brain dial-up modem giving him access to all of the world's networked data, but when it comes to the physical side of things, he has an advanced military record already. That means that the character has no charming awkwardness, because he was already a cocky Alpha before he got his enhancements, leading to a guy who would be really unappealingly smug except that he's played by Holloway and may be unappealingly smug despite being played by Holloway. This could just be a personal preference thing. As a kid, I loved "Greatest American Hero" and was less interested in "Six Million Dollar Man" -- I like the humility of a person who gets improvements he may not necessarily be prepared to handle, as opposed to a efficient killing machine who just gets new powers. And those new powers are already well-established when the series begins. It's a mistake of point-of-entry perspective, since we don't get to see Holloway's character adapt and the only character coming into this high-tech world for the first time is Meghan Ory's secret service agent, who doesn't seem especially shocked by anything she's discovering. If nobody on-screen is impressed, it's harder for people in the audience to be impressed. [You'll recall that "S.H.I.E.L.D." has three point-of-entry characters, which I said was maybe too many, but at least the pilot doesn't lack for people being in awe.] But I guess this is the way CBS likes it. This is cold and impersonal stuff, paying lip-service to the idea of an ongoing mythology, but delivering a pilot that's mostly perfunctory exposition -- "We gave a human the kind of power that had previously only been found in a machine. We created a man who was the first of his kind, an advanced intelligence agent." -- and belabored procedure, which I think will play just fine for a CBS audience. I suspect that that's not the audience that reads my blog and that the audience that likes the kind of TV I like will wonder why, other than Holloway's gruff sarcasm, the pilot is so devoid of incredulity-defusing humor and why the chemistry-free chatter -- it's not even up to the level of "banter" -- between Holloway and Ory is expected to be enough to instigate the Will-They/Won't-They investment that the show needs to thrive (even if all suggestions are that it won't be an immediate thing). Nothing in the "Intelligence" pilot was straight-up bad, but the visualization of the main character's skill-set is lackluster, the action sequences are weakly choreographed and the long-term plot is tough to care about. So it comes down to: Do you like Holloway, Ory and Marg Helgenberger? Are you willing enough to watch a show with them to see if "Intelligence" ultimately has higher aspirations than what the pilot sets out? Shrug.
Desire To Watch Again: "Intelligence" comes across as a less-interesting version of "Person of Interest," which even in its dreadful pilot seemed to have bigger things on its mind. I stuck around with "Person of Interest" and there were five or six episodes last season in which I felt that patience was rewarded. I'll at least give "Intelligence" one or two more episodes. Honestly, I think I liked the pilot more before watching it a second time at Comic-Con. Lots of pilots -- including "S.H.I.E.L.D." -- really aren't designed for rewatching, they're clunky engines meant to blast you into regular viewing. This wasn't much of a blast.
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All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries