Some short-lived shows deserve to be buried beneath the sands of time but not Journeyman.
Aside from proving that Scotsman Kevin McKidd could mimic a middle-class American accent with ease, there is nothing particularly outstanding about most of its 13 episodes. Nonetheless, it clocks up just enough hours to leave us wishing it had lasted longer.
McKidd plays Dan Vasser, a San Francisco reporter and former gambling addict who suddenly finds he’s repeatedly being whisked back to dates in recent history.
It’s never clear what’s causing this but his purpose on each trip seems to be to make someone’s life turn out better. Ironically, his tinkering doesn’t usually appear to change much in the present except make his own circumstances more miserable: Vasser’s involuntary disappearances lead his friends to think he’s fallen off the wagon and intimate moments between him and his wife (Gretchen Egolf) become predictably anticlimactic.
Inconsistent observance of the ripple effect typifies Journeyman’s limited reliance on science.
Aside from a few obscure discussions Vasser has with a mysterious physicist (Tom Everett), the series doesn’t have much of a genre foundation. Instead, there is a strong emphasis on family values, with scripts focussing heavily on the effect Vasser’s condition has on his relationships with his wife, young son and detective brother, Jack (Reed Diamond).
Later in the season these angles provide touching moments but the build-up is diluted by a soapy love quadrangle that might have prepared McKidd for Grey’s Anatomy but won’t engage demanding viewers.
Luckily, time doesn’t totally run out before Journeyman starts to make the most of the dramatic potential in Vasser’s power to change the past. In the last three episodes threads that have been woven throughout the season come together for a smartly constructed finale.
This climax doesn’t deliver a punchline on a par with that in ‘City On The Edge Of Forever’ but at least it ties up most of the loose ends.