Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The road to somewhere not interesting or my Traveler review

I've never seen the Fugative but I know it is considered a classic tv show and that it has spawned a little genre of its own, the man on the run from the law, accused of a crime he didn't commit. To be honest, not only have I not see the Fugative but I've seen little of this genre in general. That isn't to say I wouldn't like to see it, but there has never been a show or movie in that genre which I've found intriguing enough and available enough to prompt me to go out of my way to watch.

Until now (dun, dun, dun, cue ominous music). Traveler definely fit the latter available part of the equation. It was right after some other show I was watching, Scrubs perhaps, or something similiar of the like. It didn't really fit the intriguing part but still I was in a generous mood and so I said to my brothers let's give the whole thing a try.

The whole thing starts with old college budies doing minorly mischievious stuff and then getting framed for blowing up a building. One of the buddies has disappeared and appears to be the framer (and his name is gasp, Will TRAVELER), the other two our framees and decide that they must clear their names. Of course they can't turn themselves in and let the legal process sort itself out. Of course they can't simply hire top notch private detectives to sort things out. Of course they have to go head to head with the FBI, and of course they get to out wit them. The rest of the show and the next episode has enough of courses to fill the page but I'm not going to bother with them. This is a show I've never seen, this is a genre I'm not well-versed in, but it seems so familiar. I think it's because pieces of the framed guy genre have leaked into popular culture. Just the most cliche and obvious pieces of the genre, though, nothing more in-depth, none of the more specialized conventions. I guess it is those pieces I am seeing in Traveler and amazingly, very little else. It is as if you asked a man on the street, ok, I want you to make up the plot of a generic framed guy tv show.

Sometimes though the characters in a tv show can redeem even a completely cliche plot. Here, not so much. The main characters are so incredibly bland they seem like caricatures of yuppies instead of real people. All the stock characters are here, there is the tough-talking FBI agent who's always second guessed by her superiors. There is the mysterious helpful man who gets the guys out of trouble. There is the loving fiancee who for some reason can't go along for the adventure, but hangs in the background pining and being questioned by one of the mean government agents. There don't seem to be any nuances to the characters and in none of them are the classic attributes of these stock characters raised to an extreme that might make them interesting. I couldn't care less about them unless I started to really think about them like I do now and now I care even less about them and I want them all to disappear and never be heard of again.

Sometimes even the most cliched of cliches can be elevated by superb execution but no, no, that is not here. The camera work is nothing special. The dialogue is mediocre. I can't see any significant production value to the show. It is adequately made, poorly thought up, with little content and little style.

I think some people might be attracted to the show because they like the framed guy genre and they like it so much and have seen so little of it lately that they are willing to forgive the flaws of any show that belongs to the genre as long as it can make it into the air and perhaps bring the framed guy genre back into the mainstream. But these fans should be warned of what a show like Traveler can do to its genre. It can become such a failure that its stain spreads to other developing pilots killing its more legitimate brethern. For the sake of the framed guy genre, Traveler should die.

The only redeeming quality I can find in it is the whole its so bad its good quality. It takes the cliches so seriously and so clichedly that it's like a parody of its genre. But such a parody has only limited appeal. Because it never relents in its march of cliches that after watching it and saying hey this is so cliche is funny for an hour one has to say man this is so cliche I want to burn my television. Now Traveler has become that threat that my brothers use when they want to watch something. Hey if you don't like this show we can always watch Traveler.

And then we all laugh at the insanity of the thought.

Overall, I can't see this getting more than a 3 out of 10, but that's largely because I haven't paid enough attention to bad tv to properly calibrate my scores below 5.

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

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