One can't help but question the wisdom of launching yet another serialized drama this year after the costly implosions of more than a dozen such tales, including Six Degrees (ABC), Kidnapped (NBC), Smith (CBS) and Vanished (Fox).
Yet tonight, in the next-to-last week of the network season, ABC introduces Traveler, a thriller about three graduate school friends caught up in a terrorist bombing and manhunt in New York City. The network is even showcasing the series in the middle of May sweeps in the hour after Grey's Anatomy, one of the most popular shows on network TV. And this for a show that failed to make ABC's fall lineup.
On TV Traveler premieres at 10 tonight on WMAR (Channel 2), then moves to 10 p.m. Wednesdays beginning May 30.
Too much of a good thing
Casualties of the serial-mystery trend:
Vanished: The show which premiered Aug. 21, centered on a senator's lovely wife disappearing from under her husband's nose at a gala dinner. Who took her, and why? Was this some kind of diabolical conspiracy? Most of the audience had vanished by the time Vanished was yanked from the air after just nine episodes. Four more episodes appeared online.
Smith: An action drama about a crew of shrewd criminals who pulled off high-stakes heists. But there seemed more to this CBS series than its capers. What was up with the double life lived by the crew leader (Ray Liotta) and his dishy wife (Virginia Madsen), herself a former substance abuser with a mysterious past? Viewers will never know. Smith, which premiered Sept. 19, was canceled after three airings, with four more episodes popping up on the CBS Web site.
Kidnapped: Jeremy Sisto played a kidnap detective hired to track down a missing rich kid. This NBC drama, which premiered Sept. 20, lasted five episodes before it was snatched to the network's Web site, where nine more installments were available online.
Jericho: An apocalyptic drama set in a Kansas town profiling survivors of nationwide nuclear strike looked promising after its Sept. 20 premiere on CBS. But since returning to the air in mid-February after a three-month hiatus, it's been bombing with the audience. The series is considered a long shot to be back next season.
Runaway: A high-priced lawyer's (Donnie Wahlberg) extramarital affair turns bad when his girlfriend turned up dead in the Sept. 25 pilot. He was framed and convicted for the murder. Then he jumped bail. A fugitive on the lam with his wife and kids, CW ran him off the air after only three episodes.
Day Break: Taye Diggs starred as an LAPD detective framed for the murder of the local state's attorney. But that wasn't the weird part: Every day when he awoke, this detective found he was starting the same day over again. Maybe viewers thought this concept was the same-old same-old: Day Break premiered on ABC Nov. 15, but the sun set after just six episodes, with remaining episodes posted on the network's Web site.
Drive: A Fox action drama followed a coast-to-coast road race fueled by dark secrets and life-or-death stakes for its many competitors. The show premiered April 15 with a two-hour opener, but the race ended prematurely two episodes later.