CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
TV Review: Silly ‘Intelligence’ Could Use a Bit of Brain Power
CBS’s “Intelligence” is going for smart & sexy but too often ends up silly. “LOST” star Josh Holloway casts a charismatic shadow but his character is a cipher in the premiere, a walking computer chip that lacks the personality for a show like this to work. However, it’s not hard to see “Intelligence” developing a loyal following a la another “LOST” alum show, “Person of Interest,” which also features a relatively blank lead. Sometimes the concept is enough and “Intelligence” may be just barely smart enough to be a hit.
Television Rating: 3.0/5.0
Holloway plays Gabriel, a legendary intelligence operative who gets a super-computer microchip implanted in his brain. Before you go, “Hey, isn’t that the plot of Chuck,” you should know that this is no database. Gabriel is a walking, ACTIVE computer, which means he can see when plane manifests are updated and, theoretically, search the internet for any piece of information needed. He can also visualize evidence like a 3-D board of pictures, details, etc. How the chip allows him to do this isn’t really explained. Don’t ask questions. Just go with it.
Photo credit: CBS
Gabriel is both taxed with working on new cases for Director Lillian Strand (Marg Helgenberger) and obsessed with figuring out what happened to his wife, an agent who reportedly betrayed her country (but, of course, we all know there’s more to it than that). Gabriel can figure out any crime but can’t get to the bottom of what happened to the love of his life.
Photo credit: CBS
Helping Gabriel are a new Secret Service Agent named Riley Neal (Meghan Ory), who kind of serves as his guardian and case manager. Gabriel is a little reckless and hard to control, so Riley serves as the Scully to his Mulder. John Billingsley stars as the doctor who developed the super-chip design while Michael Rady plays a fellow investigator.
With its gorgeous stars in Holloway and Ory, “Intelligence” has just enough heat but the show is constantly being dragged down by flat dialogue and silly plotting. To be blunt, over the first two episodes, I just didn’t care. Holloway is too generic in the premiere, nowhere near as charming as the character that made him a star on “LOST.” The shackles are taken off a bit in the second episode, indicating that the Holloway charm will be allowed to flow more freely in future episodes. The show won’t work if it doesn’t.
Ultimately, “Intelligence” features a ridiculous concept — a computer with a beating heart — and a gorgeous cast, so why is it so often so dull? I want a show like this to be ridiculous and “Intelligence” is at its most enjoyable when it embraces the B-movie silliness of its concept. When it takes itself as seriously as it too often does, it ends up failing dramatically. It’s a near-miss and with so many great shows new & old in January 2014, it wouldn’t be smart to invest in a near-miss.