With an enigmatic David Schwimmer at the helm, Intelligence is an enjoyable but fleeting 6 episode sitcom revolving around the British Intelligence Service. With a blend of slapstick, situational, crude and dry humour, Intelligence’s characters elevate the comedy that encapsulates the entire series. Accompanied by a jazz soundtrack and with the show already renewed for a second season, Intelligence’s first season essentially builds the foundation for the next batch of episodes to come, and it does so relatively well with enough laughs along the way to make this worth a watch.
The story itself revolves predominantly around NSA Agent Jerry Bernstein. Flown in from the USA as an adviser for the GCHQ, Director Christine finds her steely resolve and tightly-run ship ruffled when Jerry takes charge and tries to change things. Acting as the goofy wildcard lies Joseph Harrison, a junior analyst at the company that bumbles his way through every situation and looks up to Jerry as an idol. The first episode introduces the colourful cast of characters and proceeds to give a snapshot of what the series is like when it comes to the humour.
From here, the rest of the series runs as episodic snapshots, teasing at some secrets Jerry’s hiding from the group that eventually spill over in the final two episodes, as our characters make a stand and see their arcs round out in a satisfying manner. Of course, with the aforementioned second season already green-lit, the door is left wide open as a big twist during the closing scenes tease that this isn’t the last we’ve seen from our eclectic colourful cast.
Humour is of course subjective and Intelligence tries to pepper in a number of different styles to tailor its content for everyone. The crude jokes are arguably the worst, with vomit, vagina and STD jokes dotted throughout the six episodes. By comparison, some of the situational comedy is quite well written, and the longer, drawn-out scenes do well to really accentuate the jokes. Whether it be Jerry trying to fake his way through a polygraph test or Christine trying to keep her cool around dim-witted Evelyn, it’s this style of humour that helps the show really stand out.
When the story and humour doesn’t always hit the right notes, it’s ultimately the characters that remain stead-fast and charismatic. Intelligence has a pretty good array of personas in this one, with David Schwimmer inspired in his role as NSA Agent Jerry; his evolving relationship with Joseph across the course of the season is a definite highlight. The crazy-cat-lady-looking Mary becomes involved in an office romance, while Director Christine plays the straight-faced, deadpan boss overseeing everything. These characters are not only memorable, but they have unique arcs that evolve and progress as the season goes on, making them more than one-note walking jokes which is great to see.
It’s not perfect, and at times the show does sink into a bit of a slump, especially during the midway point, but there’s enough in this one to keep you coming back to see how it ends. The fleeting 20 minute episodes make this a really easy show to get through and if you can take to the humour, you’re sure to have a good time with this. Intelligence may not be the most intelligent comedy of the year, but it has just enough chuckles to make the journey worth taking. Quite what the next season will bring remains to be seen but for now, Sky One’s latest comedy has enough in the tank to warrant that renewal and it’ll be interesting to see what direction the show takes going forward.
Verdict - 7/10