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Snap Judgment: ABC's 'Traveler'

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Traveler_l

Traveler_lHere’s what I don’t get about ABC “previewing” their new hide-and-seek drama Traveler tonight after Grey’s Anatomy: Assuming you hook us, won’t you lose us by waiting until May 30 to air another episode? (The pilot will re-air that Wednesday at 10 p.m., in what will become the show’s regular timeslot.) I suppose the network doesn’t actually care. They’ll use the Grey’s lead-in to get great numbers for the show, so they can spend the next 20 days promoting its May 30 “premiere” as “The start of the journey that 20 million people have already embarked on.” (Though honestly, I’d prefer that to another promo for National Bingo Night.)

So is Traveler worth the ratings it’s about to receive? Perhaps we could tell if they’d have launched with a two-hour premiere. This show will thrive on the chase, but tonight’s episode just has time for the set-up. Three Yale grad students — future lawyer Jay Burchell (Tru Calling‘s Matthew Bomer, left), venture capitalist Tyler Fog (The O.C.‘s Logan Marshall-Green, right), and chemical engineer Will Traveler (X-Men: The Last Stand‘s Aaron Stanford, center) — set out on a road trip. Jay’s supposed to keep them out of trouble; Tyler’s going to foot the bill courtesy of his rich daddy; Will’s in charge of planning. The first stop on the itinerary is New York City, where somehow, Will convinces Jay and Tyler that they need to race through an art museum on rollerblades. (Funny when Steve Martin does that in L.A. Story as “performance art”; just lame when three highly-educated men do it as a prank.) Still, this is where the show kicks into gear; mild spoilers ahead.

addCredit(“Traveler: Patrick Harbron”)

Once Jay and Tyler make it out the door and onto the street, they phoneWill to find out where he ended up. He asks if they’re out of thebuilding, apologizes for what he’s about to do, and then the buildingexplodes. Having been seen fleeing the museum (to avoid securityguards) and without any evidence that Will Traveler ever existed, Jayand Tyler become the terrorist suspects — and the chase is on. The restof the episode is a game of What Would You Do? as the guys make theirfirst contact with the FBI (lead by Desperate Housewives‘ Steven Culp), realize they have no idea who Will really is/was, and try to get off the island of Manhattan.

Speaking spoiler-friendly, there are a few carrots dangled in the episode — one mysteriously helpful character appears out of nowhereat a crucial moment, and Tyler’s father gets involved and you’re notsure why. Fun stuff to think about after the fact, but too frustratingto watch. Bottom line: I’m not feeling compelled to tune again.* I’llbe content for someone to just tell me how it ends.

*Unless ABC promos another episode where Bomer is momentarily shirtless for no reason.

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