The line for Ballroom 20 stretches for miles Thursday morning. Television fans begging for the latest morsels of information on Sherlock, Psych and Beauty and the Beast pack the vast convention center room with San Diego Comic-Con 2013 officially getting underway. And we were on the ground, ready to cover every last detail.
This time last year, Lost fans packed a similar room to learn more about Terry O’Quinn’s supernatural drama, 666 Park Avenue. Well, that series is gone, but the Lost faithful have still shown up to see what another island alum is trying on television.
This time, it’s Josh Holloway testing the network waters with Intelligence, a futuristic crime drama that mixes Bourne, Bond and the classic action program The Six Million Dollar Man into a high-tech concoction that makes great use of Holloway’s physicality and sarcasm.
CBS brought the promising pilot episode to Ballroom 20. It opens with Gabriel (Holloway) on a mission behind enemy lines where his unique “powers” allow him to walk through a violent, past act. Gabriel, we eventually learn, has a microchip implanted in his brain that essentially has turned him into a walking, talking computer. It’s a clever device, though not a wholly original one. The show uses Terminator-esque visuals on the screen to show the audience what Gabriel can see thanks to his technological enhancements.
The pilot also establishes several threads that can be explored as the series progresses, many of which were discussed during a post-screening Q-and-A. Holloway, Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time), and Marg Helgenberger (CSI) were joined by executive producers Michael Seitzman (North Country), René Echevarria (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and Tripp Vinson to discuss the new CBS thriller. The talked about Clockqork, the government program run by Helgenberger’s character that is behind Holloway’s transformation. They dove into a running subplot about Gabriel’s missing wife – one component the producer’s hope bring human elements to the action-heavy premise.
Seltzman admits that the show is influenced by the Six Million Dollar Man, wondering how that character would be different in our tech-obsessed society. But Holloway says we shouldn’t expect the character to by “cyber-Sawyer,” poking fun at his infamous Lost character. “We didn’t want this to be a show about a robot,” Tripp said.
To that end, a selling of Intelligence is its sense of humor, and the writers knew when to use it in the fast-moving, well-placed pilot. There are some legitimately surprising laugh-out-loud lines in the pilot. I think there’s a lot of potential as to where Intelligence can go, and I plan to tune in when the program starts on CBS in February.
The Intelligence panel gave way to Star-Crossed, The CW’s epic love story set in a distant, clichéd future where an alien race dubbed Atrians have crashed on our planet near Baton Rogue. The show’s focus falls on an unlikely teen romance between the alien Roman (Matt Lanter, 90210), human Grayson (Grey Damon, Secret Circle), and the beautiful Emory (Aimee Teegarden, Friday Night Lights). Here’s the official synopsis:
When an spacecraft crash-landed in Emery's (Teegarden) small town when she was only 6, whether the aliens came in peace or with more sinister intentions didn't matter: a fierce battle erupted as humans fought for control over their new rivals, an alien species called the Atrians. In the midst of the conflict, Roman (Lanter), a 6-year-old Atrian boy, found his way to a shed behind Emery's house, where she protected him from harm. In their brief time together, Emery and Roman forged a deep bond, but the authorities wasted no time tracking Roman down and capturing him. Emery has grown up believing that Roman was killed that day.During the post-screening panel, executive producers teased an epic battle between opposing races that will be triggered by a death we see at the end of the pilot. (No spoilers here!) But I probably won’t be watching … and I don’t think the episode won over too many fans in Ballroom 20. A tense “will they or won’t they” kissing scene elicited snickers and groans from the Comic-Con crowd. Perhaps people just weren’t buying into the CW’s template of Abercrombie-enhanced actors emoting to the latest pop-mournful tunes from coffee-shop rockers. Pre-teens looking for Divergent-era Romeo and Juliet adaptations, on the flip side, might eat this sci-fi romance up.
The panel closed with a surprise peek at Reign yet another teen-centric telling of a forbidden romance, this one between Mary, Queen of Scots and the future king of France. I’m not kidding. It had all the “strengths” of Star-Crossed, only set in an historic setting. It premieres on The CW on Thursday, Oct. 10.