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There’s no intelligence in ‘Intelligence’

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Intelligence premieres Tuesday night on CBS.
Chris Helcermanas-Benge, CBS, copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

One and a half stars

Intelligence Mondays, 10 p.m., CBS; premieres January 7, 9 p.m.

With its boneheaded information-age update of The Six Million Dollar Man, Intelligence is an early frontrunner for the most ironically titled TV show of 2014. Josh Holloway exhibits only a small amount of the charm he displayed on Lost in the role of Gabriel, a badass federal agent who’s been augmented with a computer chip implanted in his brain. Although characters constantly refer to how expensive and valuable the chip is (the show focuses lots of attention on the importance of not letting it fall into enemy hands), in practice it comes off like a glorified smartphone, allowing Gabriel to do the same sort of stuff in the field that other TV secret agents usually do back at headquarters.

With its hokey premise and awkward, cheesy dialogue (“This chess set isn’t hiding the bomb. It is the bomb!”), Intelligence is sometimes entertainingly terrible, but it takes itself too seriously to ever crack a smile. Shows like Chuck and Jake 2.0 had similarly absurd premises, but they got by with likeable characters and strong senses of humor about their own inherent ridiculousness. Intelligence has none of that, instead setting itself up as a serious show about fighting international terrorism and saddling Gabriel with an angsty back story about his CIA-agent wife possibly going rogue.

Even the cast full of TV pros (including CSI’s Marg Helgenberger and Once Upon a Time’s Meghan Ory) can’t pull off the combination of stilted exposition and overwrought melodrama, and the plots in the first two episodes are poorly executed rehashes of familiar spy-thriller elements. The serialized storyline about Gabriel’s missing wife is similarly rote, and delivered with laughably broad emoting (he may have a computer chip in his brain, but he doesn’t have a computer chip in his heart). The only intelligent response is to change the channel.

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