Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Journeyman: Sbarge saves

Spoilers for Monday night's "Journeyman" coming up just as soon as I buy an iPhone...

Reading the Nielsen tea leaves is supposed to be part of my job description, but I'm damned if I can figure out what Monday's numbers -- which, thanks in part to one of the worst "Monday Night Football" games ever, were up from the previous week but still terrible compared to "Chuck" and "Heroes" -- mean for the future of "Journeyman." Two more episodes are in the can, with the second one designed to provide some measure of closure in the event of cancellation, and I have no idea whether NBC will air either one. Yes, they promised that the show will be back in two weeks, but what if the already back-nined "Life" does significantly better in its Monday tryout next week? Given Hulu and other on-line methods of distribution, I imagine the other episodes will be available in some form, and there remains that slim chance that the strike could disrupt pilot season enough that even a charity case like "Journeyman" might get a small pick-up for next season, but I also wouldn't be shocked if "Blowback" was the last hour to air on the NBC television network.

And, if so, this wasn't a bad note to end on. No, we still have no clue about The Powers That Be's origins or motivations, but Jack has now been brought into the fold, Dan has learned the consequences of going off-mission, and Bennett did Dan the solid of killing that nosy FBI agent. Answers are always preferable, but we're at a good equilibrium point for the concept and characters now.

(Speaking of the FBI agent, how chilling was the moment where he starts ignoring Jack to mutter to himself about how "they" always need currency, implying -- as tachyon expert Dr. Langley suggested a few weeks ago -- there are always powerful men trying to track down and exploit time travelers?)

Raphael Sbarge did a good job in a showy role, playing convincingly nuts without chewing (much of) the scenery. Katie's been a problematic character for the show, but I pin that more on the writing than on Gretchen Egolf, whose fear in the apron/sandwich scene was very well done.

I kept wondering how far TPTB were going to let Dan go in his mission with the young Bennett. Would they, for instance, let him save Bennett as a kid and in turn undo the events of the previous episode and get adult Bennet out of his house? That might have been interesting, but would once again have led to a status quo reset. Jack needed to be in on the loop already, and I loved Reed Diamond's performance in the scene where Jack sees Livia across the newsroom.

(Also, had Dan rescued young Bennett, what would it mean for either of the girls Dan saved last week?)

I don't know that "Journeyman" ever has it in it to be a great show, but it's been solidly entertaining for the last five episodes or so. If it's done, I'll miss it but I don't think I'll mourn it, you know?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed the series -- but if it doesn't last, this was a great episode to go out on.
It satisfied the major story point I was concerned with -- the brothers.
The powers and mysteries behind the time travel are just mcguffins. I cared about the characters.

-- Paul

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alan, you make me sad. No, Journeyman isn't perfect, but it is very, very good, and it has only been getting better as the season has progressed. Yes, some plotlines have been resolved, but there is a lot more story that the creators have to tell. Last year I allowed myself to think that the Heroes creators actually knew where they were going and was bitterly disappointed. The skill of the Journeyman creators in putting together this half season, bringing back and tying in details from earlier episodes, makes me think that they are capable of putting together a satisfying season arc. I very much hope that I get to find out.

Taleena said...

Yeah I'd miss Journeyman which is better than a lot of the craptastic shows out there. People behave like real people without turning into idiots for the plot device.

The fact that Dan suddenly struggled with pity for the kid once he found out who it was, even though the boy was pitiable? Real.

Kevin McKidd and Redd Diamond sell the relationships between themselves and Katie and even the little boy turned in a quality performance.

Hope it get a few more episodes.

Nate said...

Wassup Sep,

I thought the episode was fantastically well written! It's not easy to deliver a storyline in this kind of fashion by having the ending affected by something that happened in the middle that really took place before the story started. I think they should send the DVD of this episode to the Emmy Committee!

And you Alan along with your other TV writing colleagues can make a difference by writing more articles about this show. You did Sepin-Wall to Wall coverage of The Sopranos in The Star Ledger.. why not toss it a few inches of newspaper space, so more people get a chance to watch what has turned into a very well done show.

Maybe it doesn't match up well with Heroes that also has a time travel theme... since viewers of both shows will inevitably compare how each show's writers tackles the concept. But it's sure much better than a lot of the other crap on TV.

K J Gillenwater said...

I agree, Mary Ann, the writers do such a great job of tying together previous episodes and bringing in new little bits and pieces each week.

Not sure what your problem with Katie is, Alan, I like her very much. Her character behaves in a real way about this whole here-one-minute-gone-the-next. And now to have the brother 'in' on what is going on? That will help her out a lot.

This show just gets better each episode. I am really vested in what happens to these people. The part with the FBI agent talking about 'they' was chilling indeed. And I was bummed when he got shot, so we don't find out anymore from this guy.

Please show those last 2 episodes!!!!

Anonymous said...

Although the last episode was great, I was irritated that the writers took the easy way out with a couple of plots last night. First, they resolve the whole FBI plotline by first suddenly changing the agent into a rogue crackpot, and then simply killing him off! If that's the end of the plot, it's a really cheap way out. Second, at the end, Diamond's character apologizes for "not believing" Dan for so long. Why?? The only time Dan ever mentioned the time-traveling truth to him was in the pilot; since then, Dan and Katie have simply lied, or refused to tell him anything! But in that line, it was like the writers were trying to have us believe that they've been trying to tell him the truth all along, and he's refused to believe them. Nothing could be further from the truth. That said, I did like the scene between him and Livia, and I'm glad they didn't resolve the Bennet storyline by simply having Dan rescue him from his father in the past (another too easy resolution).

Anonymous said...

i like the show very much. i hope it can be picked up for a whole season but that seems unlikely. very few show in tv right now can make you think like in journeyman. every show is either reality show or crime drama and its refreshing to have a different one. i am still hoping for the best!!! Long live Journeyman!!!!!!

Kenrick said...

I will sorely miss this show if/when it gets canceled. It's my favorite hour long show currently.

I agree with the earlier comments, that the FBI agent got killed off too quickly. I mean it was set up in a reasonable way, but a little too convenient. And yeah, they never really tried to convince Jack that Dan has been time traveling (which has been a gripe of mine throughout the season). Although I do get the Dan being the younger brother vibe of getting tired of convincing Jack of things, but he certainly could have tried doing something similar to what he did to convince Katie.

Also, Livia's point about her possible mission to get involved with Dan to set up his relationship with Katie is an interesting one. While interesting in the scheme of the show, one problem I have with it is that it brings into the question of free will, and in some sense Dan and the powers that be are manipulating people into doing what they want. Haha it would be cool if all the people he's been saving are necessary to prevent the apocalypse or something - maybe I'm getting overly scifi/fantasy on that notion.

Anyway, I certainly care more about what happens to Dan and his family than I do about Chuck or the ragtag band of heroes. If anything, pleeeease at least air the final episodes of Journeyman. We deserve at least that much!

Kenrick said...

Oh yeah, and when Jack saw Livia by the elevator - best scene of the episode.

Michael 8-) said...

Alan, I really wish you and some other TV writers would talk more about this show, considering how much everyone raved about "Heroes" - Season 1. I think this show easily outclasses that, and is one of the best dramas of the season.

It just keeps getting better and better! And, as others have said, it's about the relationships more than the stories around them, which is what makes it so enjoyable.

On a side to other commenters, Dan has mentioned small things along the way, such as when he admitted to his brother about being the one who passed the "forged" $20 to the cabbie back in time.

Ransom said...

(Speaking of the FBI agent, how chilling was the moment where he starts ignoring Jack to mutter to himself about how "they" always need currency, implying -- as tachyon expert Dr. Langley suggested a few weeks ago -- there are always powerful men trying to track down and exploit time travelers?)

Fourth Amendment concerns aside, the FBI character's sin, really, is simply that he is not the protagonist of the series but the one who is investigating that protagonist. Seen from Dan's point of view, the FBI agent is some type of Javert. But is it so wrong for a federal official to investigate something as compelling as time travelers? Are we truly surprised that said agent was reluctant to tell his employers exactly what he was investigating considering the nature of Dan's condition? This episode seemed to establish that the agent was on a personal quest, not necessarily acting on behalf of shady government or corporate interests seeking to exploit time travel. There has been many a sci-fi show in which the protagonist finds himself on a mission to investigate something which no one else would ever believe existed. Considering the statements of the agent, and his willingness to pause and spell everything out for Jack, he seems more in line with those types of characters than cartoon villains.

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful episode of this fantastic, doomed show. It was such a tonic after that dreadful Heroes ep.

I loved pretty much everything (the Livia and Jack scene was the highlight), but was a little disappointed that the FBI agent was killed off just as he revealed himself to be somewhere between Fox Mulder and Javert.

Really hope we get to see the final two eps. Keep us posted, Alan.

Anonymous said...

Some good news

Journeyman Fans--

NBC has decided to air the 12th episode ("Perfidia") on Wednesday, December 19th at ten o'clock. That means our 10th episode will air on Monday the 10th ("Home by Another Way"), the 11th will air on 17th ("The Hanged Man").

The decision to air the 12th episode had a lot to do with the passion of our fans through, the online petition and letters and emails to NBC executives.

And is it true you can vote once a day for the People's Choice Awards?

There's still no news on our long term future, but we can promise you this: three terrific episodes inside of ten days. Oh, yeah, and you'll get some answers, too.

Your comments and pro-active attempts to save the show are very much appreciated by me and my fellow Executive Producer Alex Graves, Kevin McKidd and the cast, writers and crew. But more importantly, it's working.

But don't rest. We need you. We want a back nine--and beyond.

Thanks again,

Kevin Falls

Anonymous said...

The love story with Olivia drew me in, but I have really come to love this show and Dan's family (namely his wife). I am excited to see the last couple of episodes.

Dani In NC said...

It took my husband and I several episodes to get into Journeyman. After the first episode, we said we weren't going to watch it again. The only reason we kept watching it is that there isn't anything else of interest to us on at 10p Monday night.

The two-parter with Bennett finally turned this into a show we like instead of a time-filler. I think I will like it even more now that the wife and the brother both know about the time travel. I get annoyed with the plot device of "I've got a secret power and no one believes me" in any show or movie if it goes on too long.