Mondays on NBC
Written by Tom Syzentgorzy
Directed by Alex Graves
Reviewed by Sarah Stegall
Journeyman‘s third episode came out stronger than usual, with a cozy scene between time traveller Dan Vasser and his wife, Katie. We got to see some domestic tranquility between these two troubled spouses, and it was a welcome relief from Katie’s constant (and frankly boring) angst over her husband’s travelling. Unfortunately, the producers just can’t seem to resist casting her, once again, in the role of unsupportive spouse in the last half of the episode, and in the final scene have raised the angst-level between Dan and Katie so far, I’m not sure they can recover.
And increasingly, I don’t care. Although this episode took Dan back into a landmark event, the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, there wasn’t much mystery to it. By now, the agreed-upon parameters of “time travel” are so familiar that Dan’s attempts to warn people about the approaching quake are just wearying. Of course no one is going to believe Dan’s warnings. Ofcourse his attempts to save people who died in the quake will fail. Of course his own brother will start questioning his sanity. It’s too much to expect that any network series would take a really daring step and have a time traveller actually change the outcome of a significant event. Rather, Dan is forced to “save” an unsavory gambling addict, apparently because Dan himself is a former compulsive gambler. The earthquake itself is given short shrift, with minimal special effects and a quick cut to a collapsed store–where Dan’s target is not even in serious physical danger. The worst disaster since the 1906 earthquake is all around Dan, and all he’s allowed to do is pull one guy, unhurt, from the ruins. If Dan didn’t feel cheated, I certainly did.
The capricious nature of these “assignments” is starting to really annoy me–Dan can “save” one guy who didn’t die in the quake, but not the sister of his friend? What kind of whimsical, illogical, even tyrannical force is behind this whole time travel schtick, anyway? Not that the producers are going to answer any of these questions. The Dan-Katie-Jack-Livia quadrangle is so complicated I’m having trouble following it through time, and I’ve been watching from Day One. Heaven knows how confusing it must be for new viewers. Without knowing that Jack and Katie are ex-lovers, their whole lunch conversation is meaningless. It would probably have been better to hold off on these complications until the show had a firmer fan base, but then, maybe the producers are worried that it won’t have any fan base at all.
The show slid in the ratings for the third week in a row, averaging a 3/7 for third place from 10 p.m.-11 p.m. The week before, Journeyman dropped from a 3.5/8 in its first half-hour to a 3.1/8. Mondaynight the show dropped from a 3.2 lead-in to a 2.7. People are tuning in toJourneyman, and then tuning out after the first half-hour. I can’t say I am really surprised. There just is not enough new or innovative drama here to hold the audience. The performances are fine, especially McKidd’s, and the City of San Francisco herself is one of the most beautiful characters in this show, but none of those elements are going to make up for the humdrum nature of the stories. This show needs more spice–a villain, a world-shattering crisis (“Save the reporter, save the world?”), something. As it’s going now, I foresee several more episodes of routine, by-the-numbers rescue stories, interwoven with the increasing melodrama of Dan’s personal life, until some time in November or December, when the network pulls the plug on Journeyman.