I hate to ask you to do this. It’s an awful lot like school, after all. Or summer camp. But it’s the most practical way to do things for tonight’s most interested audience in the evening’s TV premieres and new season returns.
Television officially returns from the holidays with a vengeance tonight (see my review of HBO’s “True Detective” on Sunday). And tonight’s anticipatory affections might be thought to be split down the middle.
So please line up on the right if the new show that most turns you on is ABC’s “Killer Women,” whose producers include Sofia Vergara and whose star, Tricia Helfer (of “Battlestar Galactica” fame), plays a Texas Ranger who specializes in, well, killer women. Vergara cheerfully nattered to TV Guide that “we’re going for ‘Kill Bill’ meets ‘The Good Wife’ with a ‘Justified’ vibe.”
Line up on the left if the one that bakes your potatoes is CBS’ “Intelligence,” in which Josh Holloway (“Lost”) returns to play an Iraq War vet with a microchip in his brain that gives him access to what seems to be every computer in the world. Marg Helgenberger, late of “CSI,” is his boss and Meghan Ory his sexy partner.
If you’re lined up on the right, I apologize profusely because I’ve got nothing for you. I haven’t seen an advance screener of “Killer Women,” but let me confess that I’ll be with you completely at 10 this evening when the show promises all manner of shamelessly trashy pleasures. This is a lot deeper into brazen pulp balderdash than television is usually prepared to go. And the idea that Vergara is its guiding presence and reigning suit is so delightful on its face that I honestly don’t see how anyone could resist it.
I have seen some episodes of “Intelligence,” though, so I can tell you that it behooves everyone lined up on the left to be patient. In tonight’s episode, they’ve got – as Desi always used to tell Lucy – a lot of “ ’splainin” they think they have to do.
I don’t agree, but in sci-fi it means that shows are positively lousy with premise, all of which supposedly has to be explained so that people will watch without confusion.
The idea here is that Holloway plays a war hero who is the guinea pig in “this generation’s Manhattan Project. … We gave a human a power that had previously been found only in a machine.” A guy, then, with a computer chip in his head, is able to connect to “the information grid” of the entire world.
So he’s a guy who can tell you instantly the GNP of Mongolia and how old you were when you had the measles.
A guy with all that going on could get just wee bit unstable, you know? So they give him a “baby sitter” – a beautiful woman who is mocked for getting just 1060 on her SATs (proof, say some, of “stupidity”).
It might seem, at this point, as if you’ve wandered into a really bad MENSA meeting where everyone’s intelligence is off the charts, but the only thing they want to talk about is how much their intelligence is off the charts.
It’s all very, very solemn. If I were to meet up with a guy who – to take just one example – had the whole Internet connected to his head, I might ask if he’d recently come in contact with any really good new dirty jokes.
I’ll grant you that’s a waste of “the most powerful intelligence weapon on earth,” but wasting such a weapon would probably be the most humane thing you could possibly do with it.
The fellow’s name is Gabriel. Fans of “Lost” will, no doubt, be eager to have Holloway on network prime time weekly after four years away from it. Those of us who are fans of Helgenberger might have wished she had made a prime-time comeback in something less inclined to humorlessness and lengthy sci-fi exposition.
Nevertheless, don’t let tonight’s relentless exposition put you too far off the “Intelligence” grid. There’s a pretty good sexy premise buried underneath all the gratuitous IQ points. And Holloway and Ory could be fun to watch if they really take the show’s aims to be another “Moonlighting.”
If it all seems like a reasonably dandy way to share a network evening with CBS’ “Person of Interest,” I couldn’t agree with you more.
Fans of that show have been vocal about its accelerating quality over the last year or so – all of which came to a screamingly dramatic climax a few weeks ago when the show-runners gave us one of the most surprising deaths on prime time this past season – the cop played by Taraji P. Henson.
I’ve always been a fan of Henson’s. I not only was more than a little shocked to lose her from the show (much more so, I must say, than I was to see the execution of Damian Lewis as Brody in Showtime’s “Homeland”), I was more than a little dismayed, too.
She was a hugely likable character in the show played by a hugely likable actress.
In her place this season – beginning tonight – we’re going to have Camryn Manheim as a villain.
Good casting, to be sure.
I’d love to ask the guy with the computer chip in his head, though, if he’s got any “intelligence” on how to get Henson back.