Josh Holloway in Intelligence.

Maverick: Josh Holloway in Intelligence.

There are a couple of things that can sound an alarm bell in the television world. A talking dog is one, though that was largely put to rest by the success of the SBS (and later FX) series Wilfred. Another is singing, particularly anything with the title Cop Rock. The third, surely, is chip-in-the-head.

Intelligence, a new television drama which has made its debut in the US to some impressive numbers, is a television program about a man with a computer chip in his head.

The microchip we're talking about allows him to connect to the ''global information grid''. Oh, and he's a 1.88 metre tall former male model.

Still with us? God knows why.

So, here's the thing: Intelligence isn't all that bad, but watching not all that bad is like watching a medium fitness athlete drag a thousand pounds of deadweight behind him on a running track. Good television should be lean, fast and unchallenged. Intelligence is intriguing, but a little chubby.

Chucked into the recipe is former CSI star Marg Helgenberger, who is the director of the United States Cyber Command, one of those post-Spooks organisations full of espionagey goodness.

And Dana Scully, oh, sorry, Riley Neal, played by Meghan Ory, the agent tasked with keeping this naughty chip-equipped maverick from getting himself in trouble. Or forgetting his iBrain charger.

The big problem here is that even science fiction has lifted its game in the post-Breaking Bad television world.

The genre which blazed a trail of originality and inventiveness struggles here with a series that has solid writing and great actors, but is ultimately let down by cliches worked so hard they come close to snapping by the first commercial break.

The power of great writing is in substance not gimmicks.

Re-constructing 3D representations in his brain leaves Gabriel looking like Matt Smith's Doctor Who, and even he abandoned his nifty replay-the-moment trick after a few goes. Everything else looks reheated from the genre: the sexy sidekick, the back-at-base genius (John Billingsley) and on it goes.

Intelligence has the ambition to spin James Bond through a high-tech wringer, but ultimately, frustratingly, ends up looking more like The Six Million Dollar Man, with inflation.

Intelligence will air on Seven later this year.