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ABC's 'Traveler' hits the ground running

(c) Deseret Morning News

May 10, 2007

By Scott D. Pierce

Stop me if you've heard this one before — "Traveler" is an exciting, fast-paced serialized drama that mixes action, intrigue and mystery with an appealing cast.

I don't know where it's going to go after tonight's premiere (9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) but the first hour makes for some great TV.

The big questions are: What happens next, and how long are they planning for this to last?

And why has this show been sitting on the shelf at ABC for several months? If the next few episodes are as good as the pilot, why didn't the network's programmers get it on the air sooner?

Maybe that's just because we've seen a number of shows that combine serialized mystery, action and conspiracies fail already this season — such as "Kidnapped," "Vanished," "Day Break" and "Drive." Or maybe it's because those ABC programmers, having seen upcoming episodes of "Traveler," know something that those of us who have only seen the pilot don't.

Whatever the case, the first hour of "Traveler" is pretty terrific.

As the series opens, buddies Jay Burchell and Tyler Fog are already on the run from the authorities. Then we flash back a bit to discover why.

Jay (Matthew Bomer of "Tru Calling"), Tyler (Logan Marshall-Green of "The O.C." and "24") and Will Traveler (Aaron Stanford of "X-Men") have just finished graduate school and are headed on a cross-country trip. Their first stop is in New York, and, just as Jay and Tyler pull a prank at an art museum, the building explodes into flames.

They didn't have anything to do with it, but their faces are all over TV, and they're being viewed as homegrown terrorists. Will disappears, and, as it turns out, appears not to be the person he claimed to be.

Both Jay and Tyler have a family history that suggests something nefarious, although we can't tell the good guys from the bad guys in the first hour.

If "Traveler" is intended as a summer series that will lead us on a thrilling chase to the finish, that's great. It's hard to see how it could last too long without degenerating into something a lot less watchable than the first hour.

At this point, all we know is that "Traveler" hits the ground running.

IF YOU REALLY like "Traveler" and you can't wait to see the next episode, too bad. You're going to have to wait.

After tonight's "sneak preview," the show doesn't air again until Wednesday, May 30 — almost three weeks from now. And that episode will actually be the same one that airs tonight.

Episode 2 doesn't air until Wednesday, June 6 — almost four weeks from now.

I'm just a TV critic, not a high-powered network programmer. Maybe this makes sense to a high-powered network programmer.

To me, it just seems dumb.

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