The premiere episode of 'Vanished' had almost everything it would need for a single story to string out the entire season - plenty of characters that could have their own storylines take center stage for a few episodes, plenty of motives for the reason behind the disappearance of the senator's wife, and a couple of action sequences to keep the proceedings lively.
What it's missing is jazz, heat, something that would make us WANT to tune in next week not to mention the rest of the season.
And the main reason for that problem lies in the character who serves as the lynchpin that should be keeping it all connected - FBI agent Graham Kelton.
I suppose I'm spoiled when it comes to Toobworld's FBI agents. From Dale Cooper of 'Twin Peaks' through Fox Mulder of 'The X-Files' and now Jack Malone of 'Without A Trace', FBI Agents have a vitality, a feeling that life pulses through them. It's not just a matter of quirks, although that certainly helps as well.
Graham Kelton has the potential, and it looks like he'll be more connected to this case than he ever would suspect, due in part to a past case as well as to his Catholic faith. We know the actor playing him has the chops to bring Graham Kelton to life; Gale Harold played vain, self-centered Brian in the Showtime version of 'Queer As Folk', after all.
But here, he's nothing more than an update on the cardboard characters from the old TV series, 'The FBI'. Worse, he's just a mature Ashton Kutcher in a suit.
The problem lies in the writing, I guess. They've got to give Harold more to work with and I know then he'll run with it.
I do like Ming-Na as his partner though. She looks perfect in the role. Let's just hope they give her more to do with it.
Let's get down to some of the Toobworld aspects.......
As of now, I have no problem seeing this series set in the main Toobworld, Earth Prime-Time. We never see the President or know who it's supposed to be, so right now we can assume it's President Bush. As for Senator Collins being from Georgia, I don't see that as a problem - sorry, Georgians (and you know who you are, I.G.), but it's not like your senators in the Real World are that high-profile.
There's apparently an opening on the Supreme Court and the senator's crucial vote on the matter could be a reason behind the case. But again, so far we don't know the name of the nominee nor who was being replaced.
Besides, the Supreme Court can be a nebulous body once you get past the Chief Justice. One of the other justices would be like the Manhattan D.A. of 'Law & Order', you can get away with having a fictional character in the position.
The one glitch might be in a guy who showed up to put some pressure on the senator just before his wife.... 'Vanished'. (I keep wanting to put an exclamation point in that title!) If I heard the senator's major domo correctly, he was the Acting Attorney General. If so, the "Acting" part of the title could be the loophole to keep this in Toobworld, where Alberto Gonzalez has been cited in fictional series as being the A.G., just as he is in the Real World. It could be that for the run of this series, the televersion of Gonzalez has been sidelined by illness or some other reason.
All in all, though, 'Vanished' can be placed in the main Toobworld... for the time being.
And if the opinion of TV critics and viewers who comment in blogs are any indication, that might not be for very long. 'Vanished' can be a lot like light beer: tastes great, less filling.
Still, I hope it sticks around at least for one more month. That's because my friend and soul's twin, Shirley Jordan, will be playing a role in the episode to air on September 11th.
After that, I'd have no problem if 'Vanished' did just that.....