Sunday, August 20, 2006

TRAVELER--An ABC Midseason Replacement

This mixture of SUPERNATURAL, PRISON BREAK and THE FUGITIVE (has any TV series been ripped off as many times as THE FUGITIVE?) gets off to a promising start, but I wonder whether there ultimately will be anything in this series we haven't seen before. David Nutter, the new King Of The Pilots now that Robert Butler seems to be retired, directed this fast-moving pilot episode about three recent college graduates--lawyer Jay (Matthew Bomer, FLIGHTPLAN), rich kid Tyler (Logan Marshall Green, 24) and mysterious Will Traveler (Aaron Stanford, X-MEN 3)--leaving Yale for a two-month cross-country road trip before beginning their new professional lives. They begin with a night out in New York City, and before hitting the road the next morning, Will proposes a prank: that Jay and Tyler race from the top of the Guggenheim to the street below on rollerblades. Video cameras capture the two friends whizzing through the crowded museum while security guards chase them and a fire alarm sends the patrons to the street. When the two friends reach the corner, Will calls Jay on his cell phone. He says, "I'm sorry I had to do this," just before a bomb blast levels the museum. Instant suspects on terrorism charges, Jay and Tyler dodge cops and FBI agents all over the city, while wondering what else they don't know about their best friend Will Traveler.

Setting aside the fact that racing through the Guggenheim is an idiotic thing for guys in their mid-20s to be doing, which hardly helps make the leads likable, TRAVELER is an intriguing concept, if only because we're left in the dark as to why the explosion happened and how Jay and Tyler came to be inadvertently involved. Unfortunately, do we really need another serialized action show about shadowy conspiracies, unanswered questions, sinister law enforcement agencies and rich white men holding the puppet strings from their dimly lit mansions?

One way the show could work is if it was more like THE FUGITIVE, where every episode did not hinge upon the overall show concept and could occasionally function like an anthology where the two leads could interact with guest stars and get involved with their problems ROUTE 66-style. Retro perhaps, but at least it wouldn't tire out the premise and leave the writers scrambling for ideas every week the way PRISON BREAK did last season, where the show started spinning its wheels waiting for Show 22's big escape.

I doubt Nutter will be directing many more episodes, so we'll have to see if the series can stay fresh. I'm game to give TRAVELER a couple more chances though.

P.S. Titling the series after its villain seems an odd choice. Now TRAVELERS would make sense, as its leads are also "travelling" across the country, or were before they got into a fine mess.

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