Spring 2014 Review: Intelligence

7 Feb


It would be easy to make some wordplay based on the title Intelligence (and the show’s lack there of, etc.). I’ll abstain however, as the show was only relatively insipid, rather than incredibly so. That’s a mild back-handed compliment but I hope the show enjoys it because it’s just about the last it will get.

Here’s how I see the making of Intelligence. Someone had a genuinely gimmicky but not terrible idea for a show premise. Once that premise moved forward into the making of an actual show, well the rest was pretty much put together by the numbers, and probably could have been done by a machine when fed as inputs every other CBS procedural from the past decade.

Here is the premise. The hottest new piece of US technology to fight the war on, well, anything, is a man, a former super top notch military man, with a microchip implant. This microchip allows the power of computers to somehow fuse with his brain, which means he can instantly access and scroll through any piece of information available on the internet or other electronic system, and more than that, he can reconstruct entire scenes, Source Code-like, combining the facts he gets from his computer with the intelligent connections and leaps of reasoning from his brain. There’s not a half-bad idea here, if someone really worked on it; the battle between man and machine has been hit upon many times before (Fox’s Almost Human, and of course the recently remade RoboCop), but that’s partly because there’s a lot to mine. Besides being cool, it’s genuinely interesting in a world where more and more human roles are being usurped by technology to figure out where the lines are.

That’s about the last interesting part of the show, sadly. The soldier is Gabriel, played by Josh Holloway, best known to TV viewers as Lost’s Sawyer, and he’s a charming but rough-around-the-edges ex-Delta Force operative who doesn’t play by the rules. The show hangs the lampshade by asking why the government would implant this one single unique chip into a guy who may kind of not always follow their orders, but then they don’t really explain why they do it.

Our way into the story is through a secret service agent named Riley assigned to protect Gabriel. In 40 minutes, she goes from thinking this new assignment is not worth her time to agreeing to undertake Gabriel’s pet project, a search for his wife, who, reports say, turned on the US, and is dead, but which he doesn’t believe.

There’s a watchable but fairly unremarkable episodic storyline that involves its share of action scenes, Riley and Gabriel bonding, and a betrayal by a government agent which doesn’t mean a lot to us since we’ve known him for about five minutes.

The characters just aren’t that interesting, nor is the dialogue. I say it over again but I say it again here; there’s a limit to how much you can tell in the first episode of a show but you can, especially in a drama, tell a certain difference between dramas that, even if they don’t ultimately work, have a certain amount of care put into them, and ones that just seem like they were produced without any real passion. This is of the later variety. There’s nothing that elevates it above a standard procedural at absolute best.

A quick shout out before we go to Riley and Gabriel’s boss, played by CSI’s Marg Helgenberger, who’s clearly moved up the government ranks since her days in Las Vegas.

Will I watch it again? No. It’s not terrible as far as procedurals go, it’s just not even trying. It doesn’t seem like anybody put a lot of thought or caring or passion into this show and it shows.

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