TV TALK WITH BILL CUSHING – CBS “Intelligence”: Been There Done That


By: Bill Cushing – February, 2014

CBS new series ‘Intelligence’, starring LOST’s Josh Holloway and CSI’s Marg Helgenberger, premiered on January 7th to decent ratings.

It boasted a good cast, and an interesting premise.

The drama centers on a high tech intelligence operative named Gabriel, played by Holloway, who has a super computer microchip implanted into his brain, and the director of the cyber security agency named Lillian Strand that he works for, played by Helgenberger.

The show is pretty much your standard procedural. Show the crime, solve the crime, and catch the bad guys. The problem is that this premise has been done before, and better. NBC had a series called Chuck, which ran from 2007-2012.

It was the story of a computer geek who accidentally downloads critical government secrets into his brain, essentially making his mind a super computer. Sound familiar?

The difference was that Chuck was a nerd and this thing in his brain made him a spy, and that made it interesting. Gabriel is already a competent spy, much less interesting.

Granted, ‘Intelligence’ takes a more serious approach, while ‘Chuck’ was much more light hearted.

But Chuck was much better acted and written. ‘Chuck’ built a cult-like following over its 5 years on the air and stood out from other shows. ‘Intelligence,’ however, is loaded with your standard clichés and lazy writing, and does nothing to separate itself from other shows of its kind. There’s just nothing special to it.

In the pilot, Strand decides that Gabriel needs a bodyguard, so she hires an attractive young brunette from the Secret Service to watch over him. Let the sexual tension begin.

Cliché #1. Midway through the episode, we find that Gabriel’s co-worker and friend is actually working for the other side. The Mole.

Cliché #2. Throw in a fight with a guy twice his size, an unlikely hero saving the day, and mysterious issues surrounding his missing wife and her possibly being a traitor, and you have 3 more clichés that Gabriel has to deal with in the first hour.

It was really good to see Holloway on TV again, but he is wasted in this series. I’ve never been a big fan of Helgenberger and watching her in this series reminded me why. I just never find her believable in her roles. She’s very wooden and dull in this role although, let’s face it, she doesn’t have much to work with.

There are some good action sequences that will attract fans, Holloway is very likable in his role, and the show may get better as it goes along. Ratings have plummeted since the pilot episode, however, this is the type of series that CBS normally turns into a hit, so we will have to see where it goes in the coming weeks.

If you like “Intelligence,” get your fill of it while you can. My guess is that it will be unlikely to see a 2nd season.

With so many choices on TV these days, shows really have to do something to stand out, and ‘Intelligence’ fails to do so. In fact, it is so unoriginal and boring, that is just blends in with today’s TV landscape and gets lost in the shuffle. Hopefully Josh Holloway gets a better vehicle to come back to TV in, once this show is put out of its misery.

Bill CushingDo you have any questions about TV? Email me at I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future column.

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