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The Chronicle
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, ©

Format: TV
By:   Silvio Horta (Creator)
Genre:   Science Fiction / Comedy
Released:   Premiered July 2001
Review Date:  
RevSF Rating:   6/10 (What Is This?)

When I first heard of the Sci Fi Channel series The Chronicle, I thought of a throwaway gag during the movie Men in Black. Tommy Lee Jones tells Will Smith he's going to check the news, then buys some tabloids. Smith questions his choices, and Jones tells him they have the best investigative reporters in the world.  

The Chronicle is a show about those reporters. That hooked me. It's a clever idea: all the monsters and aliens and freaks that tabloid papers like Weekly World News and The Globe cover are all real. But often, there are a million miles between concept and execution.  

Chad Willett is Tucker Burns, the lead guy on the show and our window to the world of the Chronicle: in the pilot, he gets a reporter job there. He was blacklisted by mainstream newspapers after an "incident." He considers the Chronicle beneath him, but changes his mind after the pilot episode. There's a lot of foreshadowing of the "incident," then he finally reveals what it was. He was the victim of a sorority girl lie that got a teacher fired. That's it. Now, many (oh, so very many) sorority girls I have known are capable of causing abject suffering and misery - but as the basis of a character's entire motivation? It would be one thing if they used that as a punchline, but it's treated with deadly seriousness.

It turns out that it's not just Tucker; the whole Chronicle staff works there because of being shunned by the mainstream, so now Tucker feels like he belongs. Willett is affable and nice-seeming as Tucker. That's the point of him, as the hero of the piece. Here, that's also the problem. He's generic.  

Rena Sofer plays the female lead Grace. She's got a better sob story, multiple alien abductions. So far she hasn't been given much to do.   Hopefully she isn't designed as just someone to look at.

The rest of the cast is serviceable in their roles, with the only standout being Curtis Armstrong as Pig Boy (but he's still Booger from Revenge of the Nerds in our hearts). He's the only one in the cast who seems truly into playing an odd character to match the odd setting. And by that, I mean that there's nothing very meaty in the personalities of these characters, nothing for them to do except react. Some of these characters could just as well be on something like The Practice. I feel like the only one who should be a "normal" character in an odd setting is Tucker.  

The writing of the show really left me wanting. The mythology established for the show is neat, but it doesn't go any further. The jokes seem meant to be hilarious, but they're not. The situations seem meant to be over the top, but they're not. This show is about weirdoes investigating weird things, but it isn't weird enough.  

Sci Fi used to air another comedy / action / weirdness show called Good vs. Evil. It was quickly canceled. That show must have been too stylistic, too weird, and too funny, because Sci Fi pulled back the reins when they tried comedy-action-weirdness again on The Chronicle.   

The show has just been renewed by Sci Fi, to give it a full season's worth of episodes. Good for it. I'd watch it again, to see if it gets its legs underneath it. So far, the show is just okay. Hundreds, nay, thousands, of shows with worse concepts and casts than this have been mediocre. With what The Chronicle has going for it, I expected more.

Joe Crowe is News and Humor Editor for RevolutionSF.

 
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