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New series review: Traveler (ABC)

On a roll: But can two law school grads skate a terrorist rap?

Premiering: Thursday, May 10 at 9 p.m. central (10 eastern) on ABC. Then moves to Wednesdays at 9 central on May 30th
Starring: Matthew Bomer, Logan Marshall-Green, Aaron Stanford, Pascale Hutton, Viola Davis, William Sadler, Billy Mayo
Produced by: Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen, Charlie Craig

First off, the three young protagonists are all Yale law school grads, one of whom's father is one of the world's richest men.

Anyone relating yet?

It also seems to be way late for another mindbending serial drama in a season where many have tried but only Heroes hasn't failed. Still, here comes ABC's Traveler, with a sneak preview Thursday night after Grey's Anatomy. Then it won't return until Wednesday, May 30th, when the same episode will air again.

You'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better recipe for viewer confusion and/or disinterest. The onset of hot weather won't help either. Summertime hits invariably are light, breezy and easy to digest. But this is no Slurpee. Nor is Traveler terribly plausible, but we'll get to that in a bit.

We begin with three male buds ready to debark on a two-month road trip before settling into the riches that a Yale Law school degree usually yields.

Jay Burchell (Matthew Bomer), Tyler Fog (Logan Marshall-Green) and Will Traveler (Aaron Stanford) first head for Manhattan to get blasted. Then they plan to hit the road for an extended jaunt to San Francisco. Their inspiration is iconic Jack Kerouac, who'd be thoroughly bored with the bunch of 'em.

Hoping to pull off a jaunty prank before blowing the Big Apple, the boys lace on their rollerblades and see who can skate the fastest out of a stately art museum. Security guards take exception, but Jay and Tyler make it out of the building just in time to get a cell phone call from Will Traveler.

"I'm sorry I had to do this," he tells Jay.

"Do what?"

Ka-boom. The art museum partly blows up, making immediate suspected terrorists of the caught-on-tape Jay and Tyler. So did Will Traveler make them fall guys? Is he still alive? Was that his real name? Did they ever really know him after rooming together for two years? And is Certs a candy mint or a breath mint?

Whatever the answers, Jay and Tyler are on the lam after deciding against cooperating with authorities.

"If we go in now, they'll ship us straight to Guantanamo Bay," Jay tells his girlfriend, Kim (Pascale Hutton). Well, he's got that right.

Not to give away too much, but the boys initially are caught trying to get out of Dodge. Even though NYC is in virtual lockdown, these two suspected terrorists are taken away in a van otherwise occupied by just two FBI agents. There's no other escort or police presence. You'd think they'd just been busted for smoking grass rather than plotting to blow up a Manhattan landmark. Preposterous.

A mysterious bellhop also is worked in. And Tyler's imperial father, Carlton (William Sadler), appears to be at the mercy of unseen forces. So it's Prison Break meets The Fugitive meets Without A Trace -- with flashbacks. But will you have the will to go on with this?

Probably not. Press materials for Will Traveler say the series will "slowly unravel a conspiracy that involves friends and family members, and calls into question the very nature of American democracy."

But summer's nearly here, and most Americans probably aren't up for anything much more taxing than Popsicle-sucking.

Grade: C