Fans of Person of Interest, high-tech action, and the good old-fashioned kicking of asses should pay attention to CBS’s upcoming series Intelligence Intelligence, starring Lost‘s Josh Holloway. The premise is promising: Holloway plays Gabriel, a top-secret government operative with a sweet device planted in his brain that allows him to tap into “the information grid.” That is, he can access the Internet, satellite data, radio signals, and all kinds of other invisible information that flies through the air. And he uses that ability to beat the pants off of bad guys.
To get a little more information on the show, I attended a roundtable session with the cast and producers (including Sawyer himself!) and didn’t let them leave until I got everything I wanted out of them. Or until they had to leave. Whichever came first.
Because Intelligence is a CBS show, the big question was, “Is this a procedural or what? Are we getting standalone episodes or a serialized bonanza?”
“We want audiences to be able to tune in and experience an encapsulated story within an episode,” explained executive producer Michael Seitzman, who adapted Intelligence from an unpublished book by John Dixon. “But we also want our loyal viewers to be able to experience longer story arcs, like what we planted in the pilot.”
That sounds pretty standard, but Seitzman went on to rattle off a few examples that are so full of spoilers that I won’t mention them here. The show doesn’t waste a lot of time on showing off Gabriel’s cool new tricks, and the bigger picture is laid out quickly. In fact, the pilot episode ends on a huge moment that easily could’ve been an anchor for a second season, indicating that Intelligence might move at a much quick pace than we initially thought.
The show is putting a lot of effort into keeping Gabriel from being too much of an omnipotent badass. As executive producer Tripp Vinson explains it, “If you make him too powerful, then you have problems in telling that story because it won’t be dramatic. One of the tricks of Superman and the other superheroes is they always have to have a fault of Kryptonite or whatever. We’ve defined it in our heads, it will be explored as the series goes on.”
Maybe Gabriel’s weakness will be his incredibly hot bodyguard Riley, played by Once Upon a Time‘s Meghan Ory? On the topic of a possible (and let’s face it, inevitable) romance, “We got really lucky because [Josh and Meghan] have a great chemistry,” Seitzman said. “We set up a relationship in the pilot that is an oddly intimate relationship. One person protecting another, one of them constantly putting the other in danger. Gabriel’s agenda is best summed up as 90-percent saving the world, 10-percent saving himself. And she’s 90-percent saving Gabriel. And in there lies a conflict that’s fun for the characters and fun for us to write and seems to lend itself toward wanting them to be together. But I also think the medium tells you that. The minute you see two attractive people on screen you want them to be together.”
When asked what the show’s main draw will be, both Ory and Marg Helgenberger, who plays Gabriel’s government boss Lillian, immediately pounced on the action, and indeed, it’s impressive. And Holloway wasn’t shy about the action being a highlight. “It’s like Disneyland for dudes,” he said.
Holloway also got a little insightful on the deeper meaning of the series: “These are things we’re facing today. How fast is technology advancing? Are we going to be left behind? I ask myself that question all the time. I have a daughter, and I’m like, I better learn to text and do everything right or she’s not going to communicate with me, and that’s a real fear in me! You have to keep up and it will change how you communicate and connect. I think that’s what will hook people, they’re gonna go, ‘Wait a second, this is happening now. It’s not a fantasy, it’s not so far away, it’s all within reach.'”
But he also said, “What’s going to grab people right away is the fast pace, action-packed [pace], beautiful ladies, and strong characters.” So it’s got that going for it, too.
CBS Picks Up Six Series, Including Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Crazy Comedy, Josh Holloway’s Intelligence and Chuck Lorre’s Mom
CBS has ordered six new series for the 2013-14 season, including the Robin Williams-Sarah Michelle Gellar comedy Crazy Ones and the Josh Holloway-Marg Helgenberger drama Intelligence.
Also getting a green light are Jerry Bruckheimer’s conspiracy thriller Hostages and the sitcoms Mom (Anna Faris!), The Millers (Will Arnett!) and We Are Men (Monk!).
Among the noteworthy pilots not getting the go-ahead from CBS — at least not at the moment: Hart Hanson’s Backstrom, adaptations of Beverly Hills Cop and Bad Teacher and a spin-off of NCIS: LA. (CBS’s complete development slate can be found here.)
Here’s the logline/casting/pedigree info for each of the new series:
Crazy Ones (Comedy)
EP | David E. Kelley (Harry’s Law, Ally McBeal)
DIRECTOR | Jason Winer (Modern Family)
CAST | Robin Williams (Mork & Mindy), James Wolk (Political Animals), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ringer), Hamish Linklater (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Amanda Setton (Mindy Project)
A father/daughter workplace comedy set in the world of advertising.
The Millers (Comedy)
EP | Greg Garcia (Raising Hope)
DIRECTOR | James Burrows
CAST | Will Arnett (Up All Night), Margo Martindale (The Americans), Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl), JB Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Mary Elizabeth Ellis (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Michael Rapaport (The Mob Doctor)
The multi-cam project revolves around a recently divorced man living with his parents.
EPs | Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker (Two and a Half Men)
DIRECTOR | Pam Fryman (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Anna Faris (The House Bunny), Allison Janney (The West Wing), Nate Corddry (Harry’s Law), Matt Jones (Breaking Bad), French Stewart (3rd Rock From the Sun), Spencer Daniels (The Office), Sadie Calvano (J. Edgar), Blake Garrett Rosenthal
A newly sober single mom tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley in the multi-cam sitcom.
We Are Men (Comedy)
EP | Rob Greenberg (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Jerry O’Connell (The Defenders), Kal Penn (House), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Chris Smith (Paranormal Activity 3)
A ditched groom moves into a short-term housing complex and makes friends with some older, divorced dudes in the single-cam sitcom.
EPs | Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI), Rick Eid (CSI, Dark Blue)
CAST | Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story), Toni Collette (United States of Tara), Tate Donovan (Deception), Sandrine Holt (House of Cards), Rhys Coiro (Entourage), Billy Brown (The Following), James Naughton (Gossip Girl), Mateus Ward, Quinn Shephard
Based upon the Israeli format, the project centers on a family caught in the middle of a grand political conspiracy and a righteous FBI agent at the center of said conspiracy whose role will come as a surprise.
EPs | Michael Seitzman, David Semel (No Ordinary Family), Tripp Vinson, Rene Echevarria (Terra Nova)
DIRECTOR | David Semel (No Ordinary Family)
CAST | Josh Holloway (Lost), Marg Helgenberger (CSI), Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time), Michael Rady (Emily Owens, M.D.), James Martinez (Breaking Bad), John Billingsley (True Blood)
Centered at US Cyber Command, and focuses on a unit that has been created around one agent with a very special gift, a microchip that has been implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum.