Monday , April 22 2024
Is Journeyman just weird or do the producers misappropriate Quantum Leap?

Journeyman‘s Swiss Cheese Effect

I spent a good deal of last night pulling my hair out trying to figure out Journeyman. None of what I watch on the show makes any sense whatsoever. Dan Vassar actually remarked to his wife, Katie, last night that he was shocked and surprised that while he was only in the past for what felt like 15 minutes, he was gone from the present for three hours. Why is this now a surprise? Was it not a surprise in the first episode when he was in the past for a few hours but gone from the present for days? Is the show misusing the Quantum Leap "Swiss cheese effect" wherein Sam Beckett can't remember details of his actual life in the past?

Is, in Journeyman's iteration, the Swiss cheese effect a process by which Dan can't remember what happened two episodes ago while in the present? And what about Katie? Why did she not look at him and say something to the effect of "Dan, you moron, we talked about this already? Do you not recall how I thought you were off on a bender because you disappeared for a few days? Remember, we had an intervention for you because you were gone for so long?"

The show seems to have absolutely no desire to put forth a clear set of rules as to the whens, whys, and wherefores of his time traveling. Yet, they are very happy to repeat the one or two little things we do know and pretend that it's new knowledge.

Speaking of inconsistencies in that show, why did Dan keep waking up in the same exact spot when he traveled to 1989? Every other time he goes into the past he wakes up in a variety of locations, but last night, it was the same exact spot every time. Or, how about this: if Dan had gone out and saved his boss's sister, his boss never would have stopped drinking and wouldn't have been the editor of the paper. Consequently, Dan and his boss never would have met so Dan never would have been prompted to save the boss's sister. Ah, a classic time travel paradox. Way to open a silly can of worms. Plus, let's not pretend that Dan didn't realize that the sister's death was what caused the boss to clean up. As soon as the death and the drinking problem were brought up everyone watching knew exactly when the drinking stopped. Dan is a reporter, how could he not have picked up on it?

There seems to be but one answer to these inconsistencies about Dan and his time travel: the producers are suffering from a Swiss cheese effect of their own.

But last night's cheese didn't end there for NBC, did it? Or, more correctly, it did end there as Journeyman aired in the final primetime slot on the network, but it wasn't the only show on NBC to feature cheesiness, as both Heroes and Chuck had plenty of the stuff.

As I have spewed most of the vitriol I currently possess, I'll keep the rest of this short. First, Heroes — I know that I thought last week that the show improved from the first episode of the season, but this week was a great disappointment. Only Hiro and Mohinder's stories are progressing, everyone else seems to just be there doing nothing, just like Micah and Niki last night. Why precisely did we need a scene with them if it was really just a graveside cry? That was our introduction to them this season, it didn't take place until the third episode, and it completely wasn't worth it. And, if Peter knew that Will (Dominic Keating) was going to try and steal the money from his fellow thieves, why did he not do anything to prevent it in advance?

Then there was Chuck, which was, and seems to always be (if one can judge by three episodes) cheesy. But Chuck's cheesiness seems purposeful. How can anyone cast Adam Baldwin and not expect cheese? He seems to always be given lines that beg for him to be just as over-the-top as he can manage. Plus, Chuck's learning the woman's part of the tango last night and having La Ciudad (Lorena Bernal) do the man's was great. It may not have any seriousness or depth to it, but the show is funny.

In closing, a question. Did anyone else out there notice that both Heroes and Journeyman last night relied heavily on Star Trek? Heroes did it with discussion of the space/time continuum, Dominic Keating's presence (Malcolm Reed on Star Trek: Enterprise) and that of Nichelle Nichols (Uhura on Star Trek). Journeyman, on the other hand, even if you discount the Swiss cheese effect Quantum Leap Scott Bakula connection (Bakula playing John Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise) had John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox on Star Trek: Enterprise).

Fascinating, Jim. Fascinating.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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