In my own thinking about CBS’ midseason drama “Intelligence,” I’ve tended to compare it to “Chuck,” with Josh Holloway playing a buffed out government agent with a microchip that allows him full access to the Internet.
At the “Intelligence” Comic-Con panel that kicked off the year’s Ballroom 20 lineup on Thursday (July 18) morning, the moderator opted to eschew “Chuck” comparisons to ask if this new thriller was like an updated version of the ’70s classic “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
Perhaps because he was bracing for “Chuck” questions, “Intelligence” creator Michael Seitzman was fairly receptive to Lee Majors-based comparisons.
“With inflation, I think we’re in the billions now,” he said. “We talk about it for the obvious reason: That was about human enhancement.”
The key question, Seitzman explained, is “What part of the human is left when you augment humanity?”
Holloway’s “Intelligence” character has a Delta Force background, so he’s no slouch physically, but Seitzman made clear that this augmented man has value that goes well beyond brawn.
“What today is more important than super-strength?” Seitzman mused. “Super-strength in the ’70s mattered, but matters, but right now we have drones in the sky and satellites that can see everything and we carry around more power in our pocket… than they had on the space shuttle. Information seems to be the bionic strength of today.”
Of course, one of the fun things about “Chuck” was always that if you got Zachary Levi talking about video games and his entertainment passions, he was happy to admit that he was every bit as geeky as his character.
The same cannot be said for Josh Holloway.
“”I’m probably one of the most computer illiterate people on the planet The only way I would use a computer is if they jammed it in my head,” Holloway admitted. “So it’s funny that… they picked me to be the super-computer guy.”
For Holloway, making his first regular TV appearance since “Lost,” “Intelligence” is a chance to fulfill his espionage jones.
“It’s a dramatic thriller with hot, strong women characters and a mixture between like James Bond, ‘Bourne Identity’ kind of thing,” he said, adding, “I grew up always wanting to play a secret agent of sorts.”
Perhaps because they’re so early in the process on “Intelligence,” the show’s stars haven’t had the chance to get sick of the “If you had this chip in your brain for real, what would you do with it?” question. But they also haven’t had time to come up with good answers.
“I don’t know. I’d take some really amazing test and be like, ‘I’m just really smart, guys,'” Meghan Ory said after a long, thoughtful pause.
Holloway confusingly responded, “I’d probably be addicted to Korean drama.”‘
Marg Helgenberger’s answer? “I think I just would love to be able to learn every language… so I can travel everywhere and seem smart.”
Because of lengthy delays in loading the crowd into Ballroom 20, the screening of the “Intelligence” panel started late and fans were still entering the room for at least the first 20 minutes. I’ll let that be the excuse for the total lack of audience respond for that time. After a while, the audience started laughing at the occasional one-liner and there was tempered applause after a couple action sequences. [Personally, I’ve seen the pilot twice and… it’s not a pilot I needed to see twice. But I’ll talk more about that when I get to the midseason shows in my Take Me To The Pilots seres.] That left the panel with very little time for questions from the moderator and no time at all for questions from the audience.
A couple other highlights:
*** Holloway was asked to compare the pain of losing his “Intelligence” wife — that’s not a spoiler — to the pain of losing Juliet on “Lost.” Yes. Really. His response? “Wow. That’s not fair… The loss of any love is tragic.” Oh come on, Man. JULIET.
*** Helgenberger was, of course, asked to compare her now authority figure to the one he played for years on “CSI.” She replied, “First off, this is the federal government. This isn’t the Las Vegas Police Department. And I’m in charge!” And she added, “I was looking forward to a new challenge and low and behold, here I am.”
“Intelligence” premieres on February 24, airing Mondays at 10 p.m.