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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Crime
Josh Holloway as Gabriel Vaughn; Meghan Ory as Riley Neal; Marg Helgenberger as Lilian Strand; Michael Rady as Chris Jameson; John Billingsley as Dr. Shenendoah Cassidy; P.J. Byrne as Nelson Cassidy; Tomas Arana As Adam Weatherly; Lance Reddick as Jeffrey Tetazoo
Paul Asay


Way back in 2007, Gabriel Vaughn is lying in bed with his wife when she receives a call on her smartphone.

"Whoever thought we should be perpetually connected to the Internet should be shot," he quips.

It wasn't the Internet calling, but no matter: What's important here (at least for the show's writers) is Gabriel's irony-thick comment. Because these days, he's completely connected to the Internet—indeed, the world's entire information grid—all the time through his very own noggin, thanks to an embedded computer chip.

Gabriel (played by Lost alum Josh Holloway) is the government's newest, kinda creepy weapon to be used in its quest to make everyone as safe as a baby in a CPSC-approved crib. Thanks to a weird genetic mutation, he's one of only a handful of people capable of communing with this high-tech chip—and the only one with, apparently, enough hand-to-hand combat experience to justify needing to. Now, with less than a blink of an eye, he can bring up a virtual crime scene, check street security cameras or even buy movie tickets online. Because if the Feds are going to turn Gabriel into the Information Age's version of the Six Million Dollar Man, why not take advantage of the few perks it allows, right?

'Course, we all know computers can be a little flaky. And, frankly, Gabriel's got his own share of glitches too—including an "appetite for reckless, unpredictable behavior and disregard for protocol," according to CBS. (Odd how they rarely shape television shows around by-the-book crime-fighters, but that's a discussion for another day.)

In order to keep both Gabriel and the chip in tip-top shape, Washington has apparently formed a whole super-secret agency around his special skills. He is, for instance, bequeathed with his very own Secret Service agent—beautiful and brooding Riley Neal. Super-smart scientist Shenendoah Cassidy provides whatever hardware and software support Gabriel's electronic extras might need, while his son, Nelson, serves as computer support and comic relief. Lilian Strand (played by CSI vet Marg Helgenberger) does what she can to look perpetually concerned while keeping everyone in line.

Everyone is, naturally, very bright. The title Intelligence doesn't just refer to Gabriel's new circuitry. But there's more irony here than just Gabriel's old quip about connectedness: The show itself isn't all that smart. Each episode's plot feels like a step-by-step IKEA project, not all that different from what we'd see in most of CBS' other competent if unremarkable crime/terrorism procedurals.

And, naturally, it comes with all the content issues that are so organic to those oh-so-average procedurals. Violence is a part of nearly every episode. People bleed and die and sometimes receive postmortem dissections. And if they're not bleeding or dying, they sometimes land in bed together. Language can be harsh.

But then, Gabriel already knew all this since he can access the Plugged In website just as easily as the CIA's.

Episode Reviews

"Red X"

Terrorists steal a plastic explosive that can be swallowed, quite literally opening up new possibilities for suicide bombers. The first target is a military base: The explosion (which we see) kills a dozen men and women, including a U.S. senator. And it's up to Gabriel to stop additional attacks. But the case becomes more problematic when Gabriel's wife—a CIA agent who disappeared while working deep cover—shows up with the terrorists.

Gabriel wants to believe his wife is working a case, while everyone else believes she's turned. The tension culminates when she reveals that she's swallowed some of the explosive and will blow up at any moment. Riley tackles Gabriel through a window just as she delivers on her promise. (We see the light of the blast through water.)

Another walking bomb fights with Gabriel. Punches and kicks lead to the bad guy getting thrown down an elevator shaft. Personnel in bomb suits remove the explosive balls from his autopsied innards, and we see close-up shots of their work.

In flashback, we see Gabriel and his lingerie-clad wife in bed together. He's in a towel, which he takes off as he climbs on top of her. The two kiss and embrace, with Gabriel's lips sometimes straying to the top of her breasts. We hear a joke about talking dirty. Characters say "h‑‑‑" and "d‑‑n" once or twice each. God's name is misused.