Thursday, May 10, 2007

TV premiering tonight: Traveler

ABC is taking an odd approach to scheduling this new serialized drama, airing the pilot episode tonight and then not showing any more episodes until May 30, when the pilot will repeat, followed weekly by the short, 8-episode season (assuming it doesn't get cancelled before then). This seems to me like a poor strategy, especially with a show like this, which is built on intricate ongoing plotlines. By the time the next episode airs, momentum will be lost for a lot of people (and the premiere will probably draw decent numbers because it’s airing after a new Grey’s Anatomy). And I’m not sure they’ll want to tune in to watch the same episode they just watched three weeks earlier.

But maybe there’s a plan here that I’m missing. Either way, I don’t see this show lasting much longer than Drive, the last serialized drama to get heavy promotion and a confusing premiere schedule. Although the initial hook is kind of cool (two friends are apparently set up as suspects in a museum bombing by their third buddy, who then vanishes), the execution reminded me much too heavily of the failed conspiracy-theory suspense shows from earlier this season, like Kidnapped and Vanished and Runaway. The set-up is a little different, but the structure is very similar, with veiled hints about a vast government conspiracy closing in on the main characters, references to secrets from the past, and lots of shady people having cryptic conversations. On top of that, the two lead actors are rather bland, although there are some welcome familiar faces in the supporting cast (including Aaron Stanford as the possibly sinister third friend, who hopefully will have more screen time in future episodes).

I’ll give it a shot, since there are only (at most) eight episodes, and it’ll be on during the summer lull. But it already feels like a relic of an earlier time, when an intricate web of lies, betrayal and intrigue (with the occasional shoot-out and/or explosion) was all that the networks were looking for in their dramas. ABC, 10 p.m.; Wednesdays at 10 p.m. starting May 30

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