a time-traveller fights to keep his marriage from imploding
Type of Pilot: Fantasy, Drama
Similar Shows: Quantum Leap (he's a time traveller who helps ordinary people), Tru Calling (the hero is at the mercy of time/fate/something)
The Inner Light: I'll always come home.
Strengths: A hero who thinks like a real person, a well-written wife, a dark tone.
Weaknesses: It's a bit confusing on first viewing.
Impressive Characters: The hero of the piece is the first TV hero I've seen in a long time who thinks like me (a real person) and not like a TV character. It's like the pivotal moment in 24 a few seasons back when Jack cut off Chase's arm to save his life, and I sat at home thinking "Well, that's exactly what I would have done, but I'm really surprised they did it on TV." A few of the key scenes in the Journeyman pilot are like that. The hero is flung though time and, once he gets to grip with the situation, he acts like a real person would. Albeit, a very smart and altruistic real person. Unlike other TV heroes in fantasy shows, he doesn't take ages to figure out what is going on. Even better, he does a lot his thinking off-camera, so the viewer is never ahead of him. He deduces what is going on, deduces what exactly is required of him, as fast as the viewer does. And it's refreshing. He never actually says "I feel like I'm living through the first episode of a TV series here" but it's indicative of his thought processes. It's as if the show is aimed at people who have seen this kind of stuff before and it doesn't slow down to explain everything to us. Kevin McKidd, as Dan the time-taveller, does a great job of looking like he's always thinkging and working it all out. Dan's cool. Likewise, his wife is a great character. She's not written as a victim-wife (who often appears on TV, totally clueless as to what the hero of the show really does, and spends her time complaining because it messes up their life together) and she's not written as an agressive, unsupportive wife (who also appears regularly on TV, as an obstacle to the hero of the show). Consequently, the audience likes and sympathesises with her, and her dilemma.
Impressive Actors: Gretchen Egolf is fantastic as the hero's wife. She makes the character likable, sympathetic, smart. In many ways, she's the lynchpin of the pilot. And the final scene is more about her character than his, so it bodes well for how involved she will be in the resulting series. It's also fantastic to see Reed Diamond back on TV. he's perfectly cast as the disbelieving (in-love-with-the-hero's-wife) brother of the hero.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: His boss, from work, only has a couple of scenes and thus comes across as a typical TV Boss. However, I'm sure the writer's have something more in mind for him.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: The pilot is extremely well cast. Even the guest actors are strong.
Continuity: Not sure. Hard to tell from this pilot. I'm sure the 'missions' he goes on every week will be self-contained, but I have a feeling the show will document the trials of his marriage and friendships in a continuity-heavy style. I hope so.
Rewatchability: Huge. It's a cool pilot and I'd happily watch it again.
Three Things I Really Like About This Pilot:
The final scene is a stunner. Easily the best ending to any pilot I've seen in a long time. it will either bring a tear to your eye, or make your cheer at the screen. It's a great ending. And raises the bar for future episodes.
The way his 'mission' ended came as a surprise to me. It was also fairly dark and gives the impression that this will be a show where a "happy ending" doesn't always mean that everyone lives happily ever after.
One Thing I Really Don't Like About This Pilot:
Moon Bloodgood is underused. She plays the girlfriend who died years ago. The pilot gives her very little to do, but makes it clear that she will play a big part in the series. Bloodgood was superb in Day Break last season, so I'm looking forward to seeing her in this series.
I loved the ending and I liked the pilot. This one is worth sticking with. It jumps to the top of pile, way way way ahead of Chuck, Reaper and Bionic Woman and seems like a show I'll be watching every week.