Television Review: 'Intelligence'
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 00:01
New to the 2014 CBS lineup is “Intelligence,” a show that adds a sci-fi twist to a typical action-drama series. Josh Holloway returns to prominence in his first main television role since he played Sawyer on the hit show “Lost.” In “Intelligence,” Holloway stars as Gabriel Vaughn, an operative for the United States Cyber Command and one of the USCC’s most valuable assets.
Vaughn is essentially hooked up to the grid: He can access all information on the web, connect to Bluetooth wirelessly and perform background checks on people — with his mind. With an implanted computer chip in his brain, Vaughn is described as 2014’s Manhattan Project because of the threat he poses as the most dangerous weapon in an increasingly technological world. Yet Vaughn is far from some emotionless robot; he is preoccupied with finding his supposedly dead wife, who was believed to be a co-conspirator in a recent terrorist attack.
Lillian Strand (Marg Helgenberger) is director of theUSCC, and Riley Neal (Meghan Ory) is a former Secret Service agent selected to protect Vaughn from anything (including himself) that could jeopardize either his safety or the security of the technology he possesses.
Neal and Vaughn initially seem to go at each other’s throats because of their inharmonious personalities, but they make a great team when they start to open up and work together. Although the series is just taking its first steps, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between these two pans out, as well as what becomes of Vaughn’s wife.
“Intelligence” narrowly avoids becoming formulaic, mainly because of its unique yet subtle sci-ficomponent. The technology that Vaughn is fitted with single-handedly makes “Intelligence” different from other action programs. The show is set in the present day, so it doesn’t attempt to create a confusing, futuristic world unfamiliar to viewers. In fact, apart from the technology that Vaughn has, there are hardly any science fiction aspects to this show, an attempt to cater it to a wider audience.
What makes “Intelligence” really work, though, is its fantastic cast and excellent writing. The acting is superb, especially Holloway’s. He portrays Vaughn with an ambitious and confident demeanor, which is absolutely necessary for this show to be successful. Marg Helgenberger also gives a memorable performance as Lillian, who is a dominant official. The screenplay is also a strength of this show. It’s very sophisticated and intelligently written,while also being easy to follow.
This show is not without flaws though. While unique in its science fiction component, “Intelligence” immediately gives off a “been there, done that” feeling. This sci-fi element can only go so far in distinguishing the show from other action-dramas, and while the initial episodes have been captivating, it seems that the storyline has the risk of going stale and losing its originality quickly.
Also, “Intelligence” seems to be lacking a sense of emotional connection to the characters. The fast-paced action and unfolding plot almost neglects the development of a relationship between characters and viewers. Given that every episode is an hour long and that four episodes have already aired, the viewers should definitely be invested in these characters by now — but they’re not.
Overall, “Intelligence” is a promising new television series, and while it has some weaknesses, the show has a bright side and makes a solid impression. If “Intelligence” makes it through a full season — or even has a multiple season run — it will be interesting to see where the story will go.