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Published: 5/10/2007

Don't count on the longevity of 'Traveler'

BY MIKE KELLY
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Jay (Matthew Bomer, left) and Tyler (Logan Marshall-Green)
are framed for a bombing by their  friend,  Will (Aaron Stanford,
center), in Traveler.
Jay (Matthew Bomer, left) and Tyler (Logan Marshall-Green) are framed for a bombing by their friend, Will (Aaron Stanford, center), in Traveler.
Enlarge

Suppose one of your best buddies from grad school turned out to be a terrorist. Would you still want to go out for beers with him after class?

Probably not, and neither do Jay and Tyler (Matthew Bomer and Logan Marshall-Green), the central characters in ABC's new action-drama series Traveler. But the boys are still plenty anxious to find their erstwhile pal, Will Traveler (Aaron Stanford), inasmuch as he was nice enough to frame them for the bombing of a crowded art museum in midtown Manhattan.

Their search will not be easy, however, because the authorities believe they are the bombers and are hot on their trail.

Traveler has a sneak preview at 10 tonight before kicking off its summer run on May 30, in the Wednesday slot being vacated by the series Lost.

In Traveler's pilot episode, which will be repeated May 30, what begins as a stupid but harmless prank by Jay and Tyler - in-line skating through the art museum - becomes something altogether different just moments after they've eluded security guards and whizzed out of the facility.

Will checks in with them via cell phone, and just before hanging up, he adds, "I'm sorry I had to do this."

Say what?

Suddenly the museum is rocked by a massive explosion. And guess whose images were captured by the museum's security cameras as they were making their wheeled escape, clattering down the front steps in their inline skates? Dumb and Dumber.

After seeing themselves on TV, Jay and Tyler realize that they're the prime suspects in the bombing, and they've got the FBI, the ATF, the Port Authority police, the NYPD - in short, everybody but Spider-Man - trying to hunt them down. And their pal Will has suddenly disappeared.

It eventually dawns on the fellas that Will - or whoever he really is - was most likely involved with the bombing, and has set them up to take the fall for it. But why?

That's the mystery that ABC hopes will hook viewers in this latest serial drama to hit the airwaves. Trouble is, viewers have shown that they're not terribly inclined to tune in each week to peel back the onion-like layers of a convoluted, season-long plot line. Serial dramas such as Kidnapped, Day Break, The Black Donnellys, Drive, and Vanished have all, well, vanished, as people tuned in to pilot episodes, then began tuning out as the weeks went by.

In an attempt to deepen the mystery on Traveler, there are lots of hints of a wider conspiracy that may involve big business, the government, maybe even Don Imus and Rosie O'Donnell.

The whole thing is a bit hard to swallow. I know, I know, great TV is supposed to make viewers suspend their disbelief - look at Lost, at least in its earlier episodes - but this show simply isn't all that great.

ABC is making a shrewd move giving audiences a peek at Traveler in the cushy time slot right after the hit series Grey's Anatomy. By the time of its actual premiere nearly three weeks from now, most competing shows will be into reruns and audiences may be more likely to give this series a try.

Even so, I wouldn't be surprised if Traveler meanders right off ABC's schedule even before all the windows are boarded up at that bombed-out art museum in New York City.



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