If it were really possible for a person to live forever, he’d no doubt witness history repeat itself time and again. Likewise, ABC’s new drama ‘Forever’ leaves me with a serious case of déjà vu. Haven’t I already seen this show?
Pretty much, yes. Six years ago, Fox ran a short-lived series called ‘New Amsterdam’, about a New York City cop (future ‘Game of Thrones’ star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who was secretly immortal and, with the help of a hot female partner, used his centuries of knowledge about the city to solve murder cases while being invulnerable to the criminals’ attempts to kill him. I recall it being a fairly interesting and entertaining show, but it didn’t do too well in the ratings and Fox pulled it after half a season.
My guess is that ABC assumes no one will remember that, because ‘Forever’ is basically the same thing. This time, Ioan Gruffudd from the ‘Fantastic Four’ movies (that’s pronounced “Yo-an Griffith,” in case you were wondering) is Dr. Henry Morgan, a medical examiner for the NYPD who has been alive for over 200 years. He teams up with hottie detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza from ‘Law & Order’) to solve murder cases using his centuries of knowledge about the city and his intimate familiarity with all forms of death.
The twist in this one is that Henry actually can die, and does so lots of times. Every time he dies, his body disappears and he wakes up naked in the nearest body of water – mostly the Hudson River, ick. He has experienced and studied pretty much every way there is to die. When, in the first episode, he needs to quickly identify a certain poison and can’t wait for the toxicology results, he takes it himself to see what it will do to him.
Gruffudd plays the character as a charming asshole, smugly showing off his superior intellect but always with a twinkle in his eye. He’s been around long enough that he doesn’t really care whether people find his behavior eccentric. He does the Sherlock Holmes thing where he’s hyper aware of every detail in his surroundings, and can pick up the tiniest clues that everyone else misses. I kind of enjoy the fact that Martinez openly calls him weird and creepy. Nevertheless, I’m sure they’ll hook up romantically eventually.
The only person who knows Henry’s secret is his friend Abe (Judd Hirsch), who we’ll later find out is sort of his adopted son. While a soldier in WWII, Henry rescued an abandoned baby from a concentration camp and raised the boy himself. As I recall, ‘New Amsterdam’ also had a similar twist where the seemingly older friend was actually the character’s son.
ABC ran two episodes of the show this week, the ‘Pilot’ on Monday and another episode called ‘Look Before You Leap’ on Tuesday. I’m not sure whether that should be read as a vote of confidence for the series, or ABC already trying to burn off episodes as quickly as possible. In the first one, Henry survives a subway crash where the conductor was poisoned, and has to stop the killer from poisoning the crowds at Grand Central Station – which he does by grabbing the guy and leaping off the roof of the building with him. In the second episode, he investigates the apparent suicide of a grad student who leapt off a bridge, but quickly deduces that she was in fact pushed. Although red herrings point to the university professor she’d had an affair with, the real killer is a colleague who wanted to take credit for an important research paper on an ancient Egyptian codex. Putting these pieces together somehow leads Henry to being hit by a truck.
In the midst of these cases, Henry is taunted by phone calls and notes from a mysterious stalker who has figured out his secret. The caller claims to be over two thousand years old and calls himself “Adam,” as in the first man. From the tone of his voice, he’s clearly evil.
Despite its familiarity to another show I’ve previously watched, ‘Forever’ is fairly enjoyable. It’s essentially another reworking of the ‘Castle’ or ‘Bones’ formula with an immortality twist. Although I have a feeling that the need to find excuses to kill Henry every episode will probably grow stale, the leads are appealing and the tone is breezy. It’s nothing revolutionary and I doubt that I’ll go out of my way to watch this every week, but I wouldn’t be opposed to catching another episode. If it lasts very many more, that is.