Intelligence TV Poster Image




Formulaic sci-fi cop drama racks up the bodies.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Justice and respect for human life is explicitly upheld, but it's tough to tell the good guys from the bad guys since both use violence to win battles.

Positive role models

Main characters are law enforcement, but villains are mowed down with guns instead of being arrested. Villains mostly have brown skin; heroes are generally white. Women also are in short supply on-screen, though two main characters are female and powerful.


Both "good" and "bad" characters use menace, threats of violence, or actual violence and death to advance their agendas. Guns are frequently brandished and fired. Deaths are styled like in video games, with faceless henchmen falling one by one and heroes blasting through unscathed. We see blood and dead bodies.


The show's main characters are young and attractive; expect romantic complications.


Some cursing: "What the hell are you doing?"

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Intelligence is a sci-fi cop series with lots of violence. Both "good" and "bad" guys seem to regard human life as expendable and confrontations often end in a pile of bodies as law enforcement comes in shooting. Anonymous henchmen hurl themselves at the officers one by one, crumpling after being shot and sagging, bloodless, to the ground, just as with a character in a video game. In addition, Intelligence shows a worrisome tendency to cast only white faces as heroes and people of color as evil villains. Sci-fi fans may find the premise appealing, but the actual cyber-nonsense seems poorly thought out.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Gabriel Vaughn (Josh Holloway) is more than just an INTELLIGENCE officer: He has been implanted with a microchip that allows him to access any information on the global information grid. With this Terminator-like power, he's immeasurably valuable to every country in the world. He has to be protected, and the director of the super-secret government cybersecurity program Clockwork, Lillian Strand (Marg Helgenberger), hands that job over to tough (but hot!) Secret Service agent Riley Neal (Meghan Ory). But protecting Vaughn isn't going to be easy. The hot-headed agent has a reckless disregard for authority and a chip on his shoulder over the purported criminal activities of his now-missing wife, Amelia. Can Neal keep both Vaughn and the Clockwork program safe?

Is it any good?


Ever since Lost fizzled out, television execs have been looking for a show that would spark similar magic. So the pitch for Intelligence must have made perfect sense: Here you have a show that not only has an intriguing sci-fi premise, you have one of the stars of Lost back on television!

If only the creators of Intelligence could have rustled up a script that's up to the strength of its promise. Holloway is still all dimpled charm, but the plot of the show is so trope-ish (and so silly) that it's hard to watch.

Why are all the bad guys people of color? Why is an immensely valuable government asset protected by only one Secret Service agent, who looks to be a twentysomething Maxim model? Why do government agents shoot first and ask questions later? Why is it amazing to have a government agent whose brain is basically just as powerful as your average smartphone? Perhaps huge Holloway fans, or those gifted in suspension of disbelief, will want to watch Intelligence to answer all these questions. However, we can't recommend it for family viewing: It's both too violent and too ridiculous.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why so many sci-fi shows are in law enforcement settings. What does our love of such dramas reveal about us? Why are we so interested in crime and so eager to see dramas about situations most of us will never experience? Does adding a futuristic aspect to a crime drama make it more relevant or interesting?

  • Compare Intelligence to other sci-fi cop shows, such as Dollhouse or Almost Human. How are these shows like Intelligence? How are they different?

  • Does the idea of implanting in a human brain a chip that allows a person to access the Internet sound realistic to you? Why, or why not? If not, can you still enjoy Intelligence?

TV details

Cast:Josh Holloway, Marg Helgenberger
TV rating:NR

This review of Intelligence was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byrebma97 January 12, 2014

Couldn't get into it

I agree with CSM's review on this; Intelligence feels formulaic. I decided to watch the first episode, as it looked interesting, and it starred two actors I knew (Josh Holloway from "Lost" and Megan Orey from "Once Upon A Time". The first 5-10 minutes was nonstop action, which lost my interest, but I decided to stay and see if it got more interesting. Unfortunately, I still couldn't get into it. I might watch the later episodes, but this doesn't really look like a winner to me. Violence: Lots of action, including guns and other weapons are used. Blood is shown. Sex: The two leads are attracted to each other, and there are minor sexual references. Language: Swearing like "hell" is used. On a side note: I did find it offensive that the antagonists in the first episode were Chinese.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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