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TV Review: ‘Intelligence’

CBS' hooked-to-the-grid hero has a high-tech gimmick but feels like a pleasant throwback

With:

Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory, John Billingsley, PJ Byrne, Michael Rady, Marg Helgenberger

Intelligence” bills its technically enhanced hero as “the next evolution of intelligence,” but the series itself feels like a throwback — and a comfortable, well-constructed one at that. “Lost’s” Josh Holloway provides a welcome dose of humanity as the however-many-million-dollar man, a covert agent plugged directly into the information grid, essentially putting the entire Internet at his fingertips. With Meghan Ory as his Dr. Watson and Marg Helgenberger as the boss, this feels like a show developed when computers were the size of a refrigerator, but it’s also the sort that, if maintained properly, could run a long time on CBS.

Basically another way to reboot a secret agent story for the 21st century, the premiere describes Holloway’s Gabriel as “this generation’s Manhattan Project,” designed to tackle threats working for something called U.S. Cyber Command, presumably because UNCLE and SHIELD were already taken.

While Gabriel might be able to access any information at a moment’s notice — and, unlike “Chuck,” have the special forces training to fight his way out of a jam — he also has a bad attitude, and is still pining for his missing wife, a fellow agent who either died or went rogue years earlier.

So to protect the government’s investment, he’s assigned a Secret Service agent, Riley (“Once Upon a Time’s” Ory), whose job is to play the role of sidekick and basically prevent him from getting himself killed. If the playful banter has a familiar ring to it, so does most of what’s in series creator Michael Seitzman’s script, including the scientist (John Billingsley) who invented the Super Soldier-like gizmo.

As for other gimmicks, Gabriel can game out situations in his head, walking through three-dimensional representations — a helpful side effect that perhaps most closely resembles the virtual device from the movie “Disclosure,” with a touch of Sherlock-vision from the recent Guy Ritchie movies.

For all the talk about tech, nothing here reinvents the wheel, but the action is crisp and the dialogue breezy, as when Gabriel speaks Mandarin. “I got an app for that,” he deadpans.

CBS will launch the show behind “NCIS,” before it moves into the Monday slot where “Hostages” has helpfully lowered the bar on expectations.
That scheduling marks a return to the escapist, good-vs.-evil of “Hawaii Five-0,” which fared pretty well there, albeit with stronger lead-ins. While it might not be the most daring of  strategies, in practical terms, it’s hard to say it’s a not a smart one.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'Intelligence'

(Series; CBS, Tues. Jan. 7, 9 p.m.)

Production:

Filmed in Los Angeles by ABC Television Studios in association with CBS Television Studios.

Crew:

Executive producers, David Semel, Tripp Vinson, Michael Seitzman; director, Semel; writer/story, Seitzman; camera, Sidney Sidell; production designer, Drew Boughton; editors, Patrick McMahon, Augie Hess; music, Clinton Shorter; casting, Tricia Wood, Deborah Aquila, Lisa Zagoria. 60 MIN.

Cast:

Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory, John Billingsley, PJ Byrne, Michael Rady, Marg Helgenberger

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