Idol Chatter

Journeyman070924.jpgTonight at 10 on NBC, television viewers with meet Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd) on “Journeyman,” an interesting new drama about a man who suddenly finds himself ripped from moments in his everyday life–getting into a cab, waking up in his bed, even driving a car–to find that he has jumped years and sometimes even decades into the past. This makes life suddenly very complicated, to say the least. Not only is Dan’s wife Katie worried by these disappearances, but by time travel trip number three rolls around, she is ready to get a divorce lawyer. Then there is the fact that he’s a reporter and disappearances when deadlines are looming aren’t exactly going to get him promoted, and may very well get him fired. As Dan soon finds out, he not only can’t control when he time travels, but he has no control over how long he’s gone, either.
Sometimes Dan is gone for days. Oh, and when he time travels, he tends to run into his ex-fiance, who greets him as if they are still engaged, kisses and all.
But the real question is, why? What is the purpose of Dan’t sudden “ability”? Is he meant to fix something or someone, a la “Quantum Leap”? To save a person’s life? Or is this just some unfortunate cosmic joke whose punchline comes at the expense of Dan’s family–his marriage and relationship to his beloved son?

There may be no rhyme or reason to the timing of Dan’s travels, but as it turns out, there is a reason for these trips. He’s meant to change lives, but the trick is, he has to figure out exactly how to do this, without a guidebook and without even knowing when his next chance will be to return to the scene.
At least so far, the reason behind why Dan is one of the mysteries the producers aren’t about to give away–at least not in the pilot–nor are they about to spill on why Dan’s ex, Livia, is always around wherever he happens to show up.
Though Kevin McKidd is sufficiently unassuming, startled, and confused about what’s happening, and even heroic under these strange new circumstances, I can’t decide yet whether NBC has a new hit on its hands or not. The premise is interesting, but what will make or break the series is how the show’s writers handle not only the necessary identity shifts in Dan and his family’s life–adjusting to his newfound role as a “savior” of sorts–but also in how they unfold the who behind Dan’s travels, which is the most interesting mystery of all so far. Who is sending Dan back and forth in time? Why was Dan chosen, as opposed to someone else? Is there someone, anyone, in charge? Is that someone human or somehow divine?
The fast-paced twists and turns of the pilot episode warrant viewers giving “Journeyman” a chance. And for those readers who loved Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (one of my favorite novels of the last several years), the similarity in circumstances is unmistakable. It’s hard not to wonder whether “Journeyman” is somehow based on Niffenegger’s beloved story.

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