Monday, December 10, 2007

Time Travel, Part 1: A 'Journey' Worth Taking

I'm writing about "Journeyman" (NBC, 10 p.m.) one more time, imploring TV viewers to give one of the most imaginative hours of the week another chance.

When I first reviewed the pilot earlier this year, I thought "Journeyman" to be a solid, if confusing, effort, kind of a mix of "Quantum Leap" and "Tru Calling," among others. But I also said much of the confusion was a deliberate effort of the producers, who wanted to show the disorientation of the lead character, Dan Vassar (Kevin McKidd).

But "Journeyman" has come into its own over recent weeks, carving out its own mythology by establishing a season-long arc as Dan continues to bounce around other people's lives, only to have his trips to the past affect his own life in the present in unforseen ways. And, unlike other shows about time travel, people within Dan's circle such as his wife and son, and now, his brother, are in on the secret, creating some strong subplots as they must deal with Dan's sudden disappearances.

Unfortunately, "Journeyman" is among the weakest ratings-wise of NBC's new shows, and even a network like NBC, which is usually pretty good about giving shows a shot at establishing themselves, may not stick with "Journeyman" too much longer. There are new episodes tonight and next week, but after that, the future is cloudy, especially with the writers' strike.

NBC gave "Life" a shot at the post-"Heroes" timeslot last Monday, and with the disappointment both creatively and in the ratings for "Bionic Woman," I'm wondering if NBC isn't re-thinking its strategy on Wednesday nights, with both "Bionic" and "Journeyman" not making the cut. ("Life" and fellow freshman "Chuck," both excellent series themselves, are safe, having received full-season orders.)

I'm curious to see which direction the writers will take "Journeyman" (once they get back to work), but I'm worried I won't get the chance. You can watch episodes of "Journeyman" online to catch up with the series, and now is a perfect time as most of the network offerings are in rerun mode.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: I've got to say, with a writers' strike and this late into December, there are a surprising amount of new, dramatic offerings still going on this week.

After ABC airs another "Peanuts" special (which have been doing nicely in the ratings) with "I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown," (ABC, 8 p.m.), the network airs new episodes of "Samantha Who?" "Notes From The Underbelly" and "October Road."

A new "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is the perfect Hanukkah gift for me. After reruns of the other CBS comedies, "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 10 p.m.) is also new.

Another Hanukkah gift: A new "Aliens In America" (CW, 8:30 p.m.), one of the best freshman shows this season, anchoring an all-new CW night that includes new installments of "Everybody Hates Chris," "Girlfriends" and "The Game."

Finally, one of the bigger disappointments, both creatively and in the ratings, "K-Ville" (Fox, 9 p.m.) is all-new, following a "House" rerun.


Jonathan said...

I like "Journeyman" as well. When I watched the pilots of the four big NBC newcomers a month or so before the season started, it was the one I was the most impressed with. Oddly enough, "Chuck" and "Life" were the least impressive and they've turned out to be damn good shows in their own right.

I'm actually hoping that all four of these shows get to return, although I realize that isn't likely. "Bionic Woman" got a little more interesting in its last few episodes, and it might be done for good depending on what NBC decides.

At least from what I understand, these last couple of episodes are supposed to dip heavily into the "Journeyman" mythos and give us a lot of answers, so maybe even if it doesn't return we'll still have a little more resolution than usual in these situations.

Phillip Ramati said...

I hope it finds some sort of conclusion. There's nothing more annoying than to get into the mythos of a series, a' la John Doe, only to be left with questions because the series was cancelled.

zodin2008 said...

I am pretty much in agreement with Joanthan, except that I didn't love the 'Journeyman' pilot (nor the "Life" pilot) but I am completely hooked on both shows as well as "Chuck".

I agree that "Bionic" is maybe slightly better, but that's like saying a Edsall is better to drive than a Yugo. It's still a big turkey and it's the only 1 of the 4 new NBC shows I could care less if it was canceled or not.

I feel pretty strongly that "Journeyman" is a goner. NBC was very blatant about their choice by giving "Chuck" and "Life" the season long votes of confidence, but not offering the same olive branch to "Journeyman", so we can assume the party's ending for Dan Vassar.

It's a shame, This is another of those terrific quirky shows that I think would have played very well on one of NBC's Cable properties - Sci Fi or USA. In fact, if "Life" hadn't been renewed, it would be the perfect fit on USA and "Journeyman" would be a great show for Sci Fi.

I think offbeat and sci fi shows like these, just simply can't get the traction and audience that one of the boring, stand along cop shows or really awful reality shows get, on regular Television.

But I hope NBC stays a 4th place network so they keep throwing shows like this to those of us that can't get enough of these kinds of shows to watch.

Phillip Ramati said...

Call me silly, but I actually hope that NBC becomes a first-place network by people tuning into these shows...

Jonathan said...

"John Doe" is a show I had completely forgotten about, and yes, that was very annoying. "Tru Calling," which I know you've mentioned before is another prime example. A couple years back EW use to do a small piece every now and then called "How Would It Have Ended" or something like that, and they had the creator of "John Doe" interviewed in one of them. I don't remember the specifics of what his idea was as far as the identity and purpose of Mr. Doe, but it had something to do with Angels and God. It sounded pretty cheesy, and actually made me happy that I didn't have to see it. Maybe it would have been okay, but it didn't sound too great.

As for "Bionic Woman." Zod, I'm not saying it became Must See T.V. What I am saying is that it got a lot more intriguing, and made me curious as to what direction the show would be taking. And I personally like having well thought out genre shows on television, so I'm usually more willing to give even the lesser ones a chance. I won't miss it, but I would stick around for awhile if they decided to keep it on. That's all.