Described as a “family-friendly film” produced by Procter & Gamble Prods. on behalf of Walmart, if “The Jensen Project” represents the best the retailer can do in TV production, maybe it should think about reallocating the cash and paying its employees better. Shoddy looking and saddled with a story that makes most Disney Channel fare look like “Masterpiece Theater,” this inane adventure is most notable for some of the clunkiest product-placement ever. “This isn’t a rerun of ‘Mission: Impossible,’?” a character says at one point in the midst of a crisis. If only.
Teenager Brody Thompson (Justin Kelly) is bored at school, so he rigs a voice-simulation device (hey, what kid hasn’t?) in order to play hooky. This would trigger a whupping from his protective mom, Claire (Kellie Martin), except that she and her husband Matt (Brady Smith) have been contacted by the shadowy research organization, the Jensen Project, for which they previously worked. It seems her old mentor Edwin (David Andrews) has absconded with cutting-edge Nanobot technology, and Claire and Matt are needed to help thwart his mwa-ha-ha plans and save the world.
Brody — only slightly shaken by the news his parents are way-cooler than he thought — comes along for the ride, and gets pulled into the plot by the obligatory beautiful teenage trainee (Alyssa Diaz) who dares him not to be a wimp (“Chillax,” she tells him), as the two teens jointly try to foil the bad guys.
Back at HQ, LeVar Burton and Patricia Richardson look on with grave concern and furrowed brows while all this plays out, seemingly thinking, “Hey, they’re Walmart. At least it’s a good bet the checks are going to clear.”
Fortunately, the emphasis on tech breakthroughs allows “Jensen’s” scientific geniuses to tout discoveries like a filtration device that they’ve given to Pur, the actual water-filtering company. And so it goes.
Advertisers often talk about creating a wholesome environment in which to push their products, but all “The Jensen Project” says is that Walmart must think it’s customers are very, very easily entertained.
For NBC, there’s obviously little risk in throwing on such fare this time of year, and it serves an additional purpose — demonstrating to sponsors, hey, guess what? This producing TV thing isn’t always as simple as it looks.