Tuesday, February 04, 2014

"Intelligence" (2014-?)

I'll admit it right off.  I started watching Intelligence (CBS Mondays at 10EST) for one reason:  Josh Holloway.  I love his Lost character Sawyer so, so, so much -- he's one of those five characters that transcend the word "favorite" for me.  So I wanted to see what else Holloway could do, since the only other roles I'd seen him in were brief appearances in Mission: Impossible:  Ghost Protocol (2011) and the series premiere of Angel from way back in 1999.

Gabriel Vaughn (Josh Holloway)
I'll also admit that the first episode ("Pilot") underwhelmed me.  Holloway plays a guy named Gabriel who has a computer chip in his brain that lets him access the "information grid," hack pretty much anything run with computers, and basically be a human version of Dorian on Almost Human.  Also, he has a sad back story where his wife, a CIA agent I think, got involved in a terrorist attack, went missing, and Gabriel is the only one who still believes she's innocent and acting under very covert orders.

So after the first episode I figured that the show would involve lots of high-tech spy work, some crime solving, and Gabriel would spend several seasons searching for his missing wife and trying to clear her name.  And I was thinking that might be entertaining, but not especially original or awesome.

And so I watched episode two ("Red X").  And they totally upset the apple cart.  Shocked me to no end.  If this is that speed-plotting thing I keep reading about, then I like it!  Three-quarters of the things I expected to see over the course of at least the first season will obviously not be happening at all, and I am wowed.

And then episode three ("Mei Chen Returns") was kind of okay.  But episode four ("Secrets of the Secret Service") -- splendid!  Finally, lots of spy stuff, an exotic location, lots of suspense and excitement and tension and some plot twists, and Bill Smitrovich playing a former US President!  I love Bill Smitrovich!  He played Inspector Cramer on A Nero Wolfe Mystery, and he's never anything but enjoyable to watch.

(Random thing that amuses me:  remember that Josh Holloway's character is named Gabriel?  In Iron Man, Bill Smitrovich played General Gabriel.  Other random thing that amuses me:  Gabriel's wife Amelia is played by Zuleikha Robinson, who was also on Lost, though only seasons 5 and 6.)

Riley Neal (Meghan Ory)
So anyway, there are also the requisite supporting characters, including his bodyguard Riley (Meghan Ory), his boss Lillian (Marg Helgenberger), the scientist who created the chip in his head (John Billingsley), and the scientist's computer-whiz son (P.J. Byrne).  Riley gets the most screentime cuz she's zooming around with Gabriel, protecting him cuz he's such important government property.  Or the chip in his head is, anyway.  (And yes, every time I write "the chip in his head," I think of Spike in the middle seasons of Buffy.)  Lillian is the most boring cuz she's got to be Authoritative and Commanding, and I've never been a huge fan of Marg Helgenberger anyway.  The scientist and his son are fun, if a little cliche sometimes.

But Gabriel is... nice.  Really, really nice.  That niceness that Sawyer keeps locked away 99.9% of the time and sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who knows it's there?  Gabriel has it all over, in the open -- look at me, I'm a nice guy.  I do wish we had some more character development of him aside from the sad-about-the-wife thing.  Then again, I've only seen 4 eps so far, and the 5th aired last night so I'll be watching it online probably tonight.  Could be it's chock full of stuff about who he is.  Episode 4 did have some info on Riley's past as a Secret Service Agent, so I probably need to be patient as they gradually develop who these people really are.

This picture is here to reinforce the fact that he has short hair now and is therefore Obviously Not Sawyer.

If you're interested in watching, I honestly would suggest starting with the fourth episode, "Secrets of the Secret Service," which you can watch for free here, on cbs.com, until next Monday, when it will disappear because CBS likes to kill shows by not letting new fans find earlier episodes easily.  Episode 5 ("The Rescue") is up there now too.  But if you like episode 4, then you can go here to Hulu and find links to where cbs.com is hiding the first three episodes and watch those too, which for some reason I can't find on the CBS website.  I don't know how long those eps will be available at those places, so... watch while you can.

My only quibbles so far are that Gabriel gets over Certain Events awfully quickly (though we might see more fallout from them soon), and that he and Riley got over their initial annoyance with each other a little too easily to suit me.  They went from wanting nothing to do with working together to being a great team in one episode, and yeah... more conflict would not have been a bad thing.  Oh well.  I'm not expecting a brilliant show here, I just want an enjoyable and entertaining one.  And I have to admit that I'm already caring way more about the two leads than I do about any of the Agents of SHIELD that are not named Phil Coulson.

One warning:  the second episode, "Red X," has a scene where Gabriel is remembering an intimate moment with his wife.  It starts at 3:37 and runs through 6:03, though from 4:34 on, it's just two people lying with their heads on pillows and talking, and you might want to start watching again so you don't miss important plot points.  Or you can skip to 6:03 and just figure out what happened.  That's been the only truly objectionable content so far, other than a bit of adult dialog here and there, the occasional bad word, and the violence you'd expect from a spy show.


  1. *Spoilers* I was also expecting an annoying subplot throughout the series about trying to find Gabriel's wife, but BOOM she's dead in the second episode. That was a perfect twist that is going to make the show so much better. After watching five episodes, I can definitely say that I will continue watching the series for sure, even if it is not as good or original as some of the others shows on right now.


    1. Yes, exactly! I was like, "They are going to string this out beyond all plausibility and I'm going to wind up wanting her to just... Wait, what? Wow!"

      I think a show needs awesome writing and an awesome cast to be brilliant, but if it only has great characters or great writing, it can still end up being a good show.

  2. Wow, they're already five episodes in?? Where has the time gone?

    Haven't seen this show yet, but my sister and I recorded the fifth episode last night on a whim (because Sawyer.) How weird is it that it also has Red Riding Hood from Once Upon a Time? It's really good to know that we shouldn't quit after the first episode, since we have a nasty habit of doing that. =)

    Hmm, hope they are able to flesh out the characters a bit, seems like there's a bumper crop of two-dimensional TV characters recently. (especially when it comes to "sad-about-the-wife" dudes.) Or maybe I'm just not watching the right shows. ;)

    Question: does this make you miss Lost *more,* or does it ease Lost withdrawal?

    Can't wait to try this one out! =D

    1. I know, right? How is that possible? Oh yeah, it's February, isn't it. Crazy.

      "Because Sawyer" is always a good reason. I wrote an entire novel Because Sawyer. I haven't watched Once Upon a Time at all, but I know people who are fans.

      Since the 4th ep had some character history stuff going on, I'm hoping that means we'll learn more about Gabriel soon too.

      As for missing Lost more or less... I have to admit that I missed Lost a lot the first year after it ended, but now I just kind of remember it fondly. I have owned season 1 for two years and never watched an ep, possibly because of aforementioned novel and because Sawyer is never more than a daydream away. And I really did watch Lost all for Sawyer -- I was way more focused on a single character for that show than I have ever been for any other show. So... that doesn't answer your question at all, does it? Sorry! Guess it doesn't make a difference one way or the other, for me.

  3. Hello there, I've tagged you to a book-related challenge! Go to http://musicandmymind.blogspot.fi/2014/02/tag-ask-my-bookshelf.html to see what's up.


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