Dan Vasser -
Katie Vasser -
Livia Beale -
Jack Vasser -
Hugh Skillen -
OTHER TIME TRAVEL SHOWS
Dan Vasser is a man unstuck in time. He has suddenly started jumping through time into the lives of others in order to put things right that were wrong. This plays havoc with his work and family life, but it is a calling that he has no power over. It doesn't help that the only other person doing it turns out to be his ex-lover who he thought had died.
JOURNEYMAN is two parts QUANTUM LEAP and one part TRU CALLING with added familial angst. The familiarity of the format along with the repetitive nature of the storylines ultimately led to its demise after a single season. It, quite simply, didn't bring anything new to the concept.
It also didn't help that the characters were unsympathetic to start with, being a family already in crisis, but as the season progressed we came to like them more through the performances. Even so, whilst there were flashes of where this show might go and grow into, shows need to hit the ground running in this modern age and this one hit the ground stumbling.
As a result, JOURNEYMAN's journey was a short and unmemorable one.Top
Pilot - The Love of a Lifetime
Dan Vasser is a news reporter who has had a rocky time in his marriage recently due to his gambling, but who has somehow managed to pull it all back together. When he suddenly starts to go missing without explanation for days at a time everyone assumes that he is back up to his old tricks. Instead, he finds himself unstuck in time, moving backwards and forwards between the present and the life of another man, a man who is struggling to save his own marriage.
One part QUANTUM LEAP and one part TRU CALLING, JOURNEYMAN allows one man to revisit the past and put right things that went wrong. Not exactly a new story, so it is going to have to live on the strength of its stories and its characters. This opening show has the benefit of establishing its format and so being able to play with expectations and do whatever it wants, but it also has the drawback of having to introduce the characters and what they're all about. The plotting is fine - solid rather than inspired and that more or less goes for the cast as well.
Kevin McKidd makes for a pleasant enough leading man, not too pretty and able to exude honesty and integrity whilst still showing a past that is far from pristine. His wife is a bit of a whiner, but then she does have good cause. Moon Bloodgood pops up as the hero's one time love, now travelling in time rather than being stuck in the same day as she was in DAYBREAK (and there's more than a hint of that show in here as well), whilst the rest of the cast are solid without making too much impact.
On the evidence of this opener the show could go either way, the format becoming repetitive and stale or finding something new and exciting to say. Time will tell.Top
Dan undergoes tests to find out if his symptoms are some kind of physical problem, but he then disappears off a plane in flight, leaving his wife to answer some very difficult questions. He appears on another plane and helps give birth to a baby girl. He then meets up with the mother again and then the daughter later on. He learns that the errant father is suffering from leukemia and his daughter may be the only one with a match for his bone marrow. He knows that he has to bring them together, but the results are not what he was expecting.
The second episode of this time travel series doesn't improve greatly on the opening pilot, but it does provide for a solid enough hour's entertainment. Some of the practical problems involved with the situation are played with, providing nice situations, but on the whole it is unexceptional. There is also a little bit too much schmaltz going on here that threaten to tip the whole thing into oversweet territory, but it does manage to sidestep that right at the end.
Dan finds himself in 1989 on the day of a big earthquake. He immediately tries to alert the authorities to what is going to happen, but nobody will listen. He then pretends to be a terrorist, but that doesn't work either. He fails to save his editor's sister from her fate as victim of the quake and finally realises that his task might be to save a small-time lawyer who shares the love of gambling that once blighted Dan's own life.
This is the same day over and over and so it becomes very much like GROUNDHOG DAY without the laughs or DAYBREAK without the fast action. Dan is gaining his sea legs and learning more from his ex-lover, but he is far from coming to terms with his gift and his wife is also having a hard time dealing with it, not least when she finds that Dan has lied about meeting his old girlfriend in the past. She, it seems, will be acting as mentor, at least for a little while.
The plot works well enough, going through all the expected motions, but they do feel like motions and the show will have to come up with more variation on a theme if it is to survive.Top
Year of the Rabbit
Dan is taken back to the 90s and finds himself sorting out a love triangle between a pretty woman, a nerdy bloke and an obsessive police officer that is destined to end in death. Before he knows it, he is running around his wife's dinner with a gun in his pocket and the police on the lookout for him. Not a good time to be telling her that he sees his ex-lover every time he jumps.
Talk about your deja vu, but we're only on episode 4 and already we have a second couple waving guns at each other. That's not a lot of time before having to recycle plots. The same sense of 'haven't we been here before?' comes up with Dan's relationship and Jack's involvement. We've been there before as well.
On a pure entertainment level it's fine, but we do fear that repetition is already setting in.Top
The Legend of Dylan McLeen
Dan finds himself caught up in the story of a hijacker who stole a huge amount of money (Huge for the time anyway) and this might provide the story that will save the ailing fortunes of the paper. Unfortunately, his son is getting upset that his father is never around and the police would like to know who the man that visited Katie's party in a tux with a gun was.
The story of the hijacker and the Cambodian man that he was trying to help out is just plain dull, nothing new and nothing exciting. What is happening in the present day is more interesting as Dan is geting himself seriously set up for murder. The gun was last week and now a large amount of money has come his way. Sooner or later the police are going to put all of that together. That will be something to look forward to as the time jumping is already getting repetitive.
What does enliven it for a moment is when Dan meets his father as a young man (played Joel Gretsch of The 4400 fame), but the moment is fleeting.Top
Dan jumps into and out of the lives of two brothers, one of whom turns into a serial bomber. Whilst sorting out their problems he comes to a better understanding of his own fraternal issues.
The story of the would-be bomber and his brother is never believable, nor all that interesting. More interesting are the continuing problems that Dan and his own family are having. Of course they would all be resolved if Dan bit the bullet and explained what was going on to his brother. Surely any half-sane person would have done that by now.
That aside, there really needs to be more going on here.Top
Dan Vasser's problems are multiplying. In the past he saves a witness from a gang killing, but in doing so puts his past self in danger. Now he must protect himself in the past without altering his own timeline. Meanwhile, his cop brother has found the money from the Dylan McLeen case.
The paradoxes and problems of going back in time, meeting yourself and trying not to change the way the future turns out are all well-known from a good many other shows in the past. There is nothing new here with the possible exception of seeing Dan fight himself.
The main interest lies in the present with Dan's brother and the FBI getting very interested in the money that Dan has. There is also some good work from Moon Bloodgood as Livia when she is confronted with the reality of Dan's current life, something that she could allow to be snuffed out if she wanted to.Top
Dan is bouncing back through time trying to stop a girl from drifting through her life into a murder that will put her in prison for 30 years. At the same time, however, the FBI are continuing to investigate how he got hold of the money from the airling hijacking and not being too subtle about it, forcing his brother into a desperate act.
We'll say it again, if the characters in this show talked to each other it would all be over by now. The time travel story is tedious and uninteresting. What's going on in the present is OK, but not rocking any part of our world either. Even the revelation that Livia is from the 40s and jsut got caught up with Dan on one of her trips doesn't inspire that much interest.Top
Emily is a girl whose downward spiral into drugs and prison started when she was kidnapped and held prisoner by a dangerously disturbed real estate man. Dan saves her and, when he learns that another girl later died by the same man's hand, he goes after the real estate man, despite Livia's warnings that going off mission never ends well.
The actual saving Emily strand of this episode is really quite dull, as have most of the plotlines to date. What is interesting is the background, especially the character of Livia. She is proving to become more and more rounded and deeper each week. She seems to know more about the situation than she is letting on and is only telling what she thinks Dan is ready to hear.
Then there is the FBI man who is dogging Dan's trail. He again seems to have more information than he is letting on and seems less interested in Dan's supposed crimes than how he got money from the future into the past. Dan also manages to get through to his brother, but then finds that his actions distort the timeline and leaves him right back where he started on that front.Top
Dan is shot by the real estate man who was arrested thanks to his actions in Emily. He fortunately escapes into the past where he meets the boy who will eventually grow up to shoot him. Can he somehow alter events or use the knowledge gained to save his own life and that of his wife?
Things are starting to pick up. Carrying on the plot through from Emily allows it a bit more scope and chance to open out. Dan's brother is brought back into the loop again and how that happens and how Dan manages to escape the violence intended are both unexpected and more thoughtful than might have been expected from the evidence on show to date.
Sadly, the FBI man who was turning into a much more interesting plot line is sacrificed out of nowhere for no reason. This is a shame as he clearly had a story to tell and information about 'them'.Top
Home By Another Way
On a busy Christmas Eve, Dan is fired from his job and then finds himself at the Ghost of Christmas Parties Past with a chance to try and persuade his father not to abandon the family.
JOURNEYMAN steps away from the formula of the episodes to date by having Dan jump back in time to help himself rather than someone else. Unfortunately this departure turns out to be rather more dull than the formula. It's all about relationships and personal strength and all of the little stories between people are about family ties and it's very condescending and oh so predictable and quite easily the worst thing that this series has come up with yet.
Setting it at Christmas only makes it worse.Top
The Hanged Man
Dan finds himself saving a mother and son in a vehicle about to go over the edge of a cliff. In the resulting crash, he loses his new digital camera. In the past, that camera affects how computer technology advances, but Dan finds that the deepest change is at home where he no longer has a son, but a daughter he doesn't know.
Technology from the future affecting the past is straight out of TERMINATOR 2:JUDGEMENT DAY, but that's OK because it is really an excuse to have Dan confronted by a change to his family that he cannot cope with and a choice to make between a son he cannot forget and a daughter who has a right to live. Unfortunately, the show doesn't make the most of that because Dan agonises over it for not one second, always certain that the only right outcome is that his son is returned. After that, it is just putting right what went wrong.
His sister in law is home for a visit and that means that there is one more person to keep the secret from and a bit more personal angst for the family, but that aside no real change.Top
Dan appears in a mental institution only a year before he started travelling and meets an inmate who claims that he too used to travel. Unable to believe the man, he is still drawn into his story as that is the case that he is dealing with. Jack takes to harrassing the NASA scientist who seems to have some of the answers but refuses to share until he pays a visit to Dan and tells what he knows.
The season comes to an end and there are all kinds of hints as to where the show would have like to have gone. There are shadowy groups of people who are looking for time travellers. There are strange celestial events that tie together Dan and Livia. There are historical anomalies and a system for setting things right that seems to be failing. All very intriguing and none to be explored now that the show is no more.
The show also carries out a neat trick by providing a final episode that could also be the end. The family has gone through some things and come to an understanding or, or rather an acceptance of, what is happening to Dan and he even visits the moment when it all started and allows his wife to see it happen for the first time. For a brief moment there is a wish that the show might have continued becuase there are hints are what it might have become, but the fact is that it didn't doo enough soon enough to really make us mourn its passing.Top
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