Sunday, March 29, 2015

'Intelligence': Cool cyber crew has a shot

Josh Holloway (center) is a smart, tough U.S. agent working for Marg Helgenberger (right) and watched by the Secret Service´s Meghan Ory (left).
Josh Holloway (center) is a smart, tough U.S. agent working for Marg Helgenberger (right) and watched by the Secret Service's Meghan Ory (left).
Josh Holloway (center) is a smart, tough U.S. agent working for Marg Helgenberger (right) and watched by the Secret Service´s Meghan Ory (left). Gallery: 'Intelligence': Cool cyber crew has a shot

Gabriel is America's most powerful weapon. We'll let the director of the U.S. Cyber Command - a covert agency answerable only to the President - explain: "We connected a human being directly to the information grid: Internet, WiFi, telephone, satellite."

Luckily for viewers, they implanted the chip in a guy who is pretty easy on the eyes, in the person of Josh Holloway, best known as bad boy Sawyer on Lost.

On Intelligence, which debuts Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS3 and then moves next week to its regular time of Mondays at 10 p.m., Gabriel is such a valuable asset that he has a Secret Service agent (Meghan Ory of Once Upon a Time) assigned to him full time. Not to protect him, but to keep him out of trouble. As Cyber Command's director (a surprisingly good Marg Helgenberger) summarizes his profile, he's "reckless, unpredictable, and insubordinate."

As a former Delta Force: Tier 1 (whatever that is), he's also tough as nails. So he'll outsmart you five ways to Sunday and then knock you out just for the fun of it.

It's a cool concept, like Chuck played for intense Mission: Impossible stakes. All the characters are given complex backstories that the show can unpack over time. As far as personal concerns, the primary focus initially is on Gabriel's wife, Amelia (Homeland's Zuleikha Robinson), who disappeared on a mission years earlier in Mumbai and is presumed a traitor.

Then, of course, there is the overarching espionage operation of the week. And while Intelligence has enormous potential, this is where it will ultimately rise or fall.

Shows like The Blacklist and Homeland are so fast-paced that they often end up exhausting the plot well before the hour is over. Intelligence will have to work diligently to overcome this fate. Essentially, the producers will have to create a condensed movie every week, which is harder to do than it sounds.

The other trap they should avoid is constantly finding new ways to impress us. Comic-book heroes can specialize as long as they have one superpower. But TV heroes have to be MacGyver-ingenious, finding novel ways to employ their skill sets every week.

Note to the producers: Gabriel is pretty damn impressive. It's not a failure of imagination if he starts a machine remotely more than once a season.

Cast, concept, execution - there's a lot to root for in Intelligence. But they'll be pushing a big rock up the hill week after week. As long as they're up to the challenge, this could be one of the season's most enticing pleasures.

 


dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

215-854-4875

@daveondemand_tv

David Hiltbrand Inquirer TV Critic
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