Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Don't travel with citrus. It explodes, I don't know why.": Journeyman

It's always tricky to judge a show by only the pilot. Even the most interesting of pilots can be completely derailed by their second episode (best recent example of this: The Nine). Unfortunately, Journeyman fell head first into the pilot trap, because what last week appeared to be the start of a somewhat compelling show took a huge step backward with a disappointing second installment.

Not to say that the entire episode was bad. What worked in the pilot still worked the second time around, mainly Dan's attempt to figure out his new time traveling ability and his continued encounters with Livia. She confirms they are both time traveling and she is seemingly still alive, but when Dan asks where she "lives" she becomes very vague and doesn't give him an answer. She does give him some advice about his journeys (Like not traveling with citrus, which, how did she end up finding that out? Does she keep grapefruit in her purse?) before leaving mysteriously, again. Their interactions are quite interesting, but I can't help but feel their story might work better in a film than in an ongoing series. Is there really enough story there to sustain a show?

What didn't work in the pilot was the person-of-the-week story, and I'm sad to say that's what drags down the second episode as well. It's obvious that they are trying to establish a sort of procedural feel here, so that viewers can jump in at any episode and understand what is going on. The problem is, the stories so far are far too weak to carry such a large portion of the show, and therefore end up dragging everything down into a pit of mediocrity. This week's story of a baby delivered on an airplane (which was like a ridiculous, white, 1970's version of Soul Plane) who, by Dan's intervention, ends up giving bone marrow to save a guy's life that we only ever briefly meet, was completely forgettable. If the time travel somehow seemed to tie into Dan's life or the lives of his friends and felt like it had actual consequences for the characters we are getting to know, it might be better. But as it stands, it's very hard to worry about the fate of people we know we'll never see again.

Journeyman is still a very well-crafted show with a great look, decent acting and competent enough writing, enough that it is frustrating that the story is so lacking. I'll be around for a few more weeks to see if the show can step up its game, but otherwise I think I'll be content let Dan take the rest of his journey without me.


Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...


I agree with just about everything you say here. The weekly stories are WEAK. And the fact that he has to time travel as the premise of the show drags down not only the weekly storyline but the ongoing present storyline, and the storyline with his ex as well.

I have some goodwill for Kevin McKidd (which is odd, because I thought Rome was a mess), but I just dont' like this show.

The reason why I'll continue watching for a bit? The location inaccuracy game!

I live in San Francisco, so I recognize almost every place they shoot on location. This isn't hard, because everywhere they shoot on location is in a very small, localized area surrounding the Financial District downtown.

For some reason this show seems to have the need to name real, specific locations (like a street address, or a neighborhood 'The Tenderloin' in the last episode), but then when the action moves there, that isn't where they actually are! People in LA are probably used to this by now but its so obvious for me that its kind of fun?

Also, he woke up in the past lying against my former office building! That is pretty weird.

Todd said...

Really glad you pointed out that RIDICULOUS plane scene. I'm seeing a lot of people who are really grooving on the disorienting nature of this show, and I don't think it's a terribly good example of how to do disorienting right. It's like Lost welded clumsily together with CSI or something.

I know I should compare it to Quantum Leap, but. . .too easy.

Justin said...

Do a little dance... buh bum...

Get down tonight!

It is the 70s!!!

Libby said...

My least favorite part of this show is the "subtle" way they use music to define the timeline. (i.e. Ooh, Sarah McLachlan, must be the 90's) Such a cop out, though from what I've heard about this episode, that IS subtle for them.

Todd said...

If I ever do a time travel show, the only clue you will have to the point in the main character's life you are visiting will be which REM album is playing quietly in the background.

"Wait. . .honey. . .is that. . .is that GREEN?"

"No, it has to be Adventures in Hi-Fi."

I don't know which couple this is that mistakes Green for Adventures in Hi-Fi, but they clearly don't leave the house enough.

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