January always brings a fresh crop of mid-season program premieres to television. Here are my thoughts on three of these new series:
This series stars Lost alum Josh Holloway as superspy Gabriel Vaughn, a man made super by the implantation of a computer chip in his head that gives him access to many computers, electronic door locks and the internet. He is managed by a counterintelligence chief played by Marg Helgenberger, and protected by a Secret Service agent played by Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red from Once Upon a Time). It doesn't seem likely that this series will ever touch any more than superficially on the issues surrounding the integration of technology and biology. The actors are all convincing, but the story nothing more than predictable so far. The back-story for the superspy and the SSA seem contrived to create drama for future episodes, but time will tell if that adds up to good television.
Killer Women (ABC)
Tricia Helfer takes the lead in this series about a female Texas Ranger named Molly Parker, who will apparently specialize in tracking down homicidal women. I’m not sure if being the only woman in the Texas Rangers and focusing on female criminals makes the show sexist or not, but this series breaks no new ground for women in law enforcement. The pilot started ridiculously enough with the 1st of the series’ killer women just walking into a church and killing a bride in front of a few hundred people (some of them well armed). Parker’s investigative techniques were also more than a little laughable, such as asking the suspect if her supposed lover was right or left handed. The guess alone gives you a 50 percent chance to get that right. And the later foray into Mexico to rescue hostages from a drug cartel was wildly unrealistic.
The SYFY Channel’s latest attempt at original programming takes us to the Antarctic, and a secret research lab that specializes in either viruses or mutations or both. An outbreak results in a call to the CDC, and Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) heads way south to investigate and to save his brother, Dr. Peter Farragut (Neil Napier), who has been infected with whatever it is. I didn't realize from the previews that this series was going to be so claustrophobic. Containment of the contagion seems to be the primary focus. Series characters are one step up from SYFY’s weekly schlock fest movies. The one female scientist’s former bad relationship with the male scientist main character has become a SYFY channel cliché. Battlestar Galactica re-creator Ron Moore’s series credit amounts to writing one episode, so I wouldn't count on that to raise the quality of the series. And all of these people are so stupid, that it’s hard care much about their survival. They get these RFID implants placed in their hands to give them access to facility doors. When Peter goes rogue (virus induced behavior change) they take the logical action of deactivating his chip, but never think to use it to track him. When they discover the body of someone he’s attacked has had his hand cut off, they wonder why, instead of assuming that he plans to use that hand to access other parts of the station. So he is able to attack more people and spread the contagion.