First, for those of you who think they don't deal w/ the "There should be 2 Parkers/Spheres" issue, let me tell you they do. It's discussed somewhat in the Pilot and you get snippets of it throughout the rest of the series (there's even one where the Sphere manages to go back by itself w/out Parker). Now, I don't remember the explanation exactly, but it's something about how the Sphere travels through time. Because it uses some kind of gravity displacement mechanism to time travel (no one ever said the show was scientifically accurate :-) ), it results in the Sphere and its contents (including Frank) to be displace their counterparts in the alternate timeline. In the Pilot, for instance, Frank is taken out of a mental institution to work on the project. When he shows up in the alternate timeline, he is reported as "missing" from that institution.
This also helps answer the question of why they can't just keep Back Stepping forever. If the Sphere displaces its counterpart from 7 days ago, there's only one Sphere. The Sphere itself takes 7 days to regenerate its energy source after a Back Step, thus it can't keep going over and over and over.
These may not seem like a satisfactory explanations to some of you, but they are at least explanations. And give the writers credit for one thing: they don't beat you over the head with them (obviously, since most of you objectors didn't even see them).
So like I said, it may not be the greatest show ever, but it is pretty interesting. And I think TNN put it in a good time slot: 1 AM Eastern. That late at night, it becomes pretty easy to believe anything. :-)
There is ongoing tension in the old animosity-hiding-intense-attraction department between Olga and Frank, and this gets resolved very satisfactorily. Sometimes she declares her love for him, so we get to see them "together", but usually he has to backstep, so it's all back to normal and he's the only one who remembers what was and what could have been. This is true of all the relationships on the show. So the balance never gets destroyed, but we get the satisfaction of seeing what's been suggested for so long.
Anyway, I highly recommend this show. I started watching it because Wednesdays are usually dead before 9:00 (I could not get into Dark Angel), but now I actually go out of my way to catch it. The main character is not the typical leading man but I like that, less formulaic. The ensemble acting and writing are really very good. And there's plenty of explosions and car chases to go around.
Don't get me wrong, the writing is cheesy and the actors cringe their way through their lines. The production values vary, but have a tendency to look computer generated and / or cheap whenever anything interesting happens on screen.
But somehow ... I find myself watching, and enjoying, this addled mess. It may not provide the same sophisticated satisfaction that the West Wing or The Shield may provide, but this is fine cheese-fest television entertainment.
EXECUTION: The series characters are more like caricatures. The security chief of this super-secret US project is barely competent and frequently childish. (More caricatures below.) The show is filled with unexplained "conundrums". For instance, what happens to the seven-days-ago Parker when the current one "backsteps"? I've seen perhaps 20 episodes, and I don't recall any attempt to explain this. The explanations they do give really make you appreciate Star Trek writers' efforts to make sense (or at least to be self-consistent in their nonsense). And many episodes require absurd events in order to reach their inevitable resolutions. The Secret Service accidentally leaves behind the man with the President's nuclear "football". Parker impresses Vancouver citizens and police with his *American* NSA badge. (The X-Files-like location overlay says Vancouver is in "British, Columbia", as if it were an area called "British" in the state of "Columbia", rather than the Canadian province "British Columbia".) And that same episode gets the "Battlestar Galactica" award for copying the movie "Run, Lola, Run", right down to the techno songs!
STAR POWER: LaPaglia out-Shatners Shatner. This billion-dollar project permanently sidelines its original "pilot" because Frank has to do *all* the backsteps. Dr. Olga Vukavitch constantly bounces between cold-shouldering Parker's advances and demonstrating unreasonable and unprofessional jealousy. (Justina Veil must have cringed her way through the series with the erratic and silly behavior her storylines required.) Every woman Parker encounters is madly attracted to him. And Parker *always* solves the problems; no other character is permitted to make a meaningful contribution. (One exception: when Donovan quits Backstep and Parker retroactively tries to convince him that's he's important. But it was hard to pay attention to the Donovan character in this episode -- I kept seeing actor Don Franklin instead, trying to make something of the pitiful bone the writers tossed him, probably to keep *him* from quitting.)
In all, it's fascinating but painful to watch this show flush away the good ideas with such poor writing and directing. I wish Mystery Science Theater 3000 had gotten their hands on this show. They would have made it hysterical instead of pathetic.
I got sick of it after the fourth time that the villains were those evil drug dealers.