Surprise Hits and Misses: Journeyman
Surprise Hits and Misses: Journeyman
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, we scoured the new shows for this year's biggest potential hits and misses. We found the ones that you should be following and which ones will probably get canceled early. The hits include Journeyman, Kid Nation and Dirty Sexy Money while the misses are Samantha Who?, Viva Laughlin, and Nashville.


Journeyman
is quite possibly the best attempt to enter the serialized science fiction market since Lost revived it for a flock of limping wannabes three seasons ago.  Initially this was not at all my impression of the show, then I saw it.  Kevin Falls' and Alex Graves' lack of science fiction street cred bothered me, and the fact that Moon Bloodgood was in a series with an almost identical hook last year, Day Break, seemed surreal in a cheesy kind of way.  Add to that the fact that the plot is almost identical to Quantum Leap, sort of, and you would think Journeyman would have a rocky start and a short life span.  You'd be wrong.

Journeyman's pilot is the epitome of a solid character piece mated with the fantastic.  Dan Vasser, played remarkably by Kevin McKidd, is a guy we get to know very well through the casual flow of the story without so much as a beat of exposition.  In a perfect world, dramatically slanted science fiction doesn't bare its fantasy belly except when necessary.  Journeyman does a fantastic job of getting an extraordinary story across without drenching the viewer in the mythology necessary to explain its means.

The comparisons to Day Break and Quantum Leap aren't completely unwarranted.  In terms of what Journeyman's hook is, it is really not, at this point, trying to break new ground in the science fiction parts of its story.   The true distinction, not only against those comparisons but against genre programming in general, is the richness of the Journeyman world.

If the time travel were removed from Journeyman's plot, the show would still be enormously successful because the characters lives are well delivered and exist within an interesting framework for a prime time drama.  Journeyman's complete disregard for its science fiction aspect actually lends a credibility to the characters that is absolutely key to its success.

One of the challenges for Journeyman will be to fend off the tendency of science fiction fans to demand a mythology to work through.  At some point, it should be expected that Journeyman will have to start down that road, but pleasing that contingent of the audience should be the farthest thing from the creator's minds.


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Read about why we think Kid Nation and Dirty Sexy Money will be the other surprise hits this year and why we don't think Samantha Who?, Viva Laughlin and Nashville will go far. Comment and tell us what you think.


- Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV
(Image courtesy of NBC)

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