A few weeks ago, Fox premiered a show that was basically one long car chase. The red flag came out after a couple of weeks of no viewers, and we'll never find out what happened to the drivers.
Now comes ABC with Traveler tonight at 10. It's an intermittent chase shrouded in a mystery and wrapped in an enigma. But the biggest question is: Will viewers be left in the lurch again?
It will take an intrepid band of optimists to hook up with Traveler, given the checkered history of serials this season. So many crashes on the first few laps.
This show has one thing going for it: Summertime, when the ratings aren't easy, and networks can afford to stick with just about anything. After tonight's cushy preview, following Grey's Anatomy, Traveler goes on hiatus for almost three weeks, starting all over again on May 30, which, in TV terms, is the dead of summer.
Traveler is maybe a notch above just-about-anything status, but it's not exactly HBO material. It seems aimed at fans of the old WB, who have aged a few years since Dawson's Creek and maybe lost custody of most of their brain cells, so they need to have their nerves shook up all the time and get everything constantly explained, or they can't keep up.
Subtlety would be lost on these folks, so why not get the pigeon wrangler to station a flock of birds (visual cliche alert!) in our hero's path so they can flutter dramatically into the sky as he dashes by?
And it certainly doesn't matter if the stuntman who jumps off a 10-foot wall is followed in hot pursuit by an actress in ill-fitting clothes playing an FBI agent, who hops not from the wall, but from a little step. Maybe she Spiderwoman-ed it off the wall first, when we weren't watching.
Traveler starts with three gorgeous guys - smart, too; they've just finished grad school at Yale - who set out on a road trip, pretending they're Jack Kerouac.
They'd still be too dumb for TV's most famous Yale student, sharp journo Rory Gilmore, but at least they know their place.
"We did not come to the most exclusive club in Manhattan to be wallflowers," the leader says, just so we know that the generic pack of young partiers in the scene is more hotsy-totsy than it looks. "I've got three interns from Vogue over there looking for dance partners."
We're spared the dancing. That's another ABC show. This one has a bomb at the famous nonexistent Drexler Art Museum in New York and daredevil roller skating by one of the three musketeers who just finished law school. Another's claim to fame is he comes from money.
His father is "Carlton Fog, one of America's richest men and convicted conspirator in the Iran-Contra scandal in the late '80s," a newscaster announces on the TV-show-within-the-TV show. Of course, the audience for Traveler probably doesn't have a clue what Iran-Contra was and really doesn't care.
Fog's on TV because, after the bomb and the roller skating, the musketeers are wanted for terrorism.
Look, I didn't make it up. And I didn't make up that no pictures exist of one of the three, who is maybe named Will Traveler and maybe set off the bomb and is maybe dead and is almost certainly not who he claimed to be for two whole years while he was buddying up at Yale with the rich guy and the would-be lawyer.
If I could make up ludicrous stuff like that, I wouldn't be scratching nickels and dimes as a TV critic.
And, finally, I didn't make up that, in their mad dash to escape all manner of lawmen and women, the suspects don't head for New Jersey - Gateway to the World - but rather onto the geographical dead end that is Long Island.
Follow them there, if you dare. I'm already committed to Prison Break. One cockamamy chase show is all my unaddled brain can handle.
Premieres on 6ABC tonight at 10:01