Tv Review: Intelligence Series 1 Episode 1

intelligence s1e1 index

Written and created by Nick Mohammed (best known for comedy character Mr Swallow), Intelligence is a brand new Sky One sitcom whose major selling point is that it stars David Schwimmer and is set in the Government Communications Headquarters where the nation’s best and brightest try to foil terrorist plots and threats to the nation’s security, only for Schwimmer’s arrogant American agent Jerry Bernstein to arrive and attempt to shake things up.

A lot of money’s clearly been spent on it as it has lavish sets and looks pretty beautiful in general, and I imagine Schwimmer’s picking up a fairly decent pay packet for appearing in it too, but despite the money on display it’s a mixed bag, it shows some promise but this first episode is distinctly lacking in laugh out loud moments. Perhaps they’ll come as it’s hinted that Schwimmer’s Bernstein is not all he seems, but I was hoping for more from this episode.

It certainly starts pretty badly as three intelligence agents, Mary (Jane Stanness),
Joseph (Nick Mohammed) and Tuva (Gana Bayarsaikhan) are sitting around discussing vaginas in an opening which is presumably meant to instantly grab viewers but just falls a little flat, though thankfully it picks up when boss Christine (Sylvestra Le Touzel) enters and chastises them, throughout the episode Le Touzel puts in a sterling performance and looks to be the show’s Most Valuable Player.

Then Schwimmer is introduced, full of pomposity and bravado as he considers himself to be the most important man in the room even when he’s clearly not. The central joke in the series appears to be that Jerry’s an arrogant dick who treats those he has no time for shittily, like when he sees Mary and can’t help but exclaim “God, what, what happened?” and comes out with egotistical nonsense including “I think we can learn a lot from each other. Especially me”, but it’s one which is already starting to run out of steam by the end of the first episode.

At least there are hints that he’s not quite the man he pretends to be, after a (very funny and enjoyable) dressing down from Christine he’s seen in panic mode and attempting to regain his confidence, while another scene in a toilet is along the same lines. That’s less funny than I’ve made it sound though, as is the sequence beforehand where he and Joseph are going through various security doors to get there in the first place, and another scene where Jerry is attempting to improve morale and faces off against Christine is fine, slightly amusing, but nothing more than that.

If Intelligence is ever going to be more than vaguely watchable they need to ramp up the suggestion that Jerry suffers many a crisis of confidence quickly then, as right now it’s a little bland, the kind of thing which will occasionally make you smile but nothing more than that. Which is a shame as all of the cast are superb, Schwimmer’s especially on top form and Mohammed’s a very likeable second lead, and the set up is one which is filled with comedic potential, but right now it’s just not delivering on it.

★★★

Alex Finch.
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