Television Reviews

Even Holloway Can’t Raise Intelligence I.Q

  • Ryan Duncan
  • 2014 20 Jan
Even Holloway Can’t Raise <i>Intelligence</i> I.Q

When it comes to network television, CBS isn’t exactly known for taking risks. Its dramas are all built on a formula that promises safe, dependable television for the average viewer, and what they lack in creativity, they usually make up for with star power. Intelligence is a humbling example that great actors do not always compensate for bad writing. Not only does the fledgling spy drama fall short of expectations, but it actually turns the network’s tried-and-true formula against it. The only question now is whether Intelligence has the potential to salvage its mission.        

Lost alum Josh Holloway stars as Gabriel Vaughn, a highly trained secret agent with a super-computing microchip implanted in his brain. This handy little upgrade allows him to connect with any computer, accessing files or downloading information at the speed of thought. It’s a neat trick, but Vaughn himself is still just flesh and blood, vulnerable to physical harm like any other human being. To protect the microchip, and curb some of his reckless tendencies, the head of the U.S. Cyber Command (Marg Helgenberger, C.S.I.) decides to issue Vaughn a bodyguard. Enter Special Agent Riley Neal (Meghan Ory, Once Upon a Time).

On paper it sounds almost foolproof, but for all the hype, Intelligence is surprisingly dull. There is nothing here a CBS audience hasn’t already seen. In fact, Intelligence runs almost identical to the network’s other cyber-themed drama, Person of Interest. A fine line may separate consistency and repetition, but you can always tell once you’ve crossed it. The show probably hoped a popular cast would help to buffer the storyline, but in this case they only makes the faults more visible     

Holloway and Ory make for an amiable pair, but neither one has received much space to flex their creative muscles. Vaughn is the dashing soldier, Neal is the tough, female sidekick, and that’s about as far as their character’s go. Helgenberger, who usually exudes confidence on screen, comes off rather passive. Even Vaughn’s emotional search to find his wife isn’t enough to make viewers invest in the characters. As for Meghan Ory, she gives it her best and rolls well with the punches, but her character faces stiff competition from other heroines on similar shows like The Blacklist, Wonderland, and Agents of Shield.

Given time, Intelligence could pull itself together, but it’s time the series doesn’t have. The Sochi Olympics are looming on the horizon, and other dramas have already entrenched themselves in theshow’sMonday night timeslot. For what it’s worth, the show did meet most of the CBS standards. It was safe for most ages, carried a consistent storyline, and didn’t ask viewers to take it too seriously. Unfortunately, Intelligence just couldn’t make the grade.

*Published 1/20/2014