INTELLIGENCE: 5 Things Learned about CBS’s Spy Drama (2014)


At the recent Television Critic’s Association Winter Press Tour, CBS brought their creative team behind its new spy series INTELLIGENCE to talk about the secret to the show’s success.  The following are five fun tidbits gleamed about the show:

Strong Chemistry 

A television show about super spies would never be quite as intriguing without a few sizzling hot agents to keep things spicy on screen.  When asked about the strong chemistry between Riley and Gabriel in INTELLIGENCE, star Josh Holloway revealed, “It’s quite easy, actually.  She’s wonderful to work with.  Meghan’s been a pleasure and a joy to work with. We’re lucky to have found her, because it’s very physical, very long hours, and she’s a little warrior, so I have a lot of respect for that.”  He then added, “She beats me up, tackles me all the time,” to which Meghan merely laughed and said, “He hates it.”  Josh grimaced a bit and sheepishly admitted, “I hate that, but that’s cool.  That’s cool for now.  We’ll change that later.  It’s a lot of fun.  And like I said, it happens kind of naturally, and we both were thrown into this wild ride, and we’re doing the best we can.”  Meghan also explained, “I think, too, in the show we deal with such serious issues. There’s threats to the world that we’re having to deal with, that having our relationship light and funny and fun in our moments of crisis, I think, is a very human way to deal with stress and something that I think is really fun and a really great part of the show.”

Cyber Sequences

Another eye-catching thing about the show is how Gabriel seems to effortlessly walk through cyber recreations of crime scenes, which one would imagine would be a tricky thing to film.  Josh Holloway said, for him, “It’s becoming easier.  The one thing, you do learn as you go.  This was a new thing to film, and so we were learning a bit as we went.  The pilot was a bit tedious because we talked a lot about it and tried to figure it out and layered things to create the effect.  So it was a different way for me, as an actor, to walk through things.  But now it’s pretty streamlined, and it’s not as tedious as you might think.  It’s hard on the extras that have to freeze.  I mean, they have to freeze for a while. . . [and] it’s difficult and tedious for those poor folks that can’t sit still and they have to freeze.”  Meghan laughed and said, “I drink too much coffee.”  Josh then explained, “It’s interesting, that part, to watch, and it’s a little spooky.  People can really freeze, and they look like wax figures, and you walk around them.  And I’m learning how to do it.  You have to flow through it as if I can’t avoid you because you’re not really there, so I have to flow through it in a way that I’m not really avoiding your arm or whatever is sticking out.  I would just walk through it in the reality, so there are certain blocking things you have to figure out.”

CHUCK Comparisons

While it has been a few years, there have been natural comparisons made between the former NBC drama CHUCK about an average guy who had a computer-program downloaded into his brain which turned him into a super-spy, and CBS’s new spy series INTELLIGENCE.  Addressing the question about the similarities of concept, executive producer Tripp Vinson admitted, “We’ve actually been asked that before, and I’m embarrassed to say, I’d heard of CHUCK and I’m sure Michael had also, but neither of us had seen it while we were developing this show, so I can’t really speak to that.  I can tell you ‑‑ obviously it wasn’t an influence for us because we hadn’t seen it.” Co-executive producer Michael Seitzman added, “ I personally have studiously avoided it now.  We’ve heard about it.  CHUCK has this amazing fan base that is enviable, and we keep hearing from them online.”  Josh Holloway then confessed, “I’ve seen CHUCK and I liked CHUCK. The difference is, though, Chuck could download things and do things.  I can’t do that.  I can only get information.”  So while Gabriel can see and extrapolate information, it does not enhance his physical abilities.

Gabriel’s Wife

Fans watching the show may have been very surprised to see that the mystery surrounding Gabriel’s wife was addressed so quickly. Executive producer Michael Seitzman said, “In the pilot, we introduce a bit of a mystery, which is Gabriel’s missing wife, Amelia.  We wrap that up to some degree in Episode 2.  We just decided to hit it right away, and, you know, with a big climactic tragic ending.”  He explained, “It’s a story that we really wanted to go to, and there were a number of things.  One thing was we liked the storyline and we liked the surprise of it, and we thought, you know, let’s surprise the audience early on.  How often do you get surprised?”  He then added, “There was another reason, too, which, quite honestly, there’s a practical reason, which is that we didn’t want Gabriel to be spending the whole season hunting for his wife, because then it just becomes about that and how could he focus on anything else, so it freed the character up for us in the writing.”  Though as one last big tease, he said, “But that’s also not to say that Amelia’s storyline is necessarily completely wrapped up.”  So just maybe Amelia did survive that nasty bomb explosion.  How would that even be possible?!

Upcoming Guest Stars

To help give the show some gravitas, INTELLIGENCE has tapped on a familiar face to flesh out the spy world a bit further.  Executive producer Michael Seitzman said, “We just cast Peter Coyote as Lillian’s father, as Marg Helgenberger’s [character’s] father, the great Peter Coyote who is really kind of magic and a lot of fun.”  Marg added, “Peter Coyote was hired to play my [character’s] father – and I don’t think I’ll be giving too much away by saying he’s a former CIA director – [they] have a very complicated relationship, as you can imagine.  He basically kind of trained [Lillian] to be in the position that [she’s] in.”  So look for that to add some father-daughter tension, and who knows what he is going to think of Gabriel!

INTELLIGENCE airs Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.

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Marg Helgenberger, Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
Marg Helgenberger, Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory (photo credit: Jennifer Schadel)
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