‘Second Chance’ Pilot Recap: “This Is the Best Version of You”

Knowing what a hair-trigger Fox has for canceling sci-fi shows, the title of the network’s new ‘Second Chance’ practically begs viewers not to dismiss it too quickly. Unfortunately, the premiere episode is so bad that I can’t imagine giving the series a second look.

Ads for the show have promoted it on the basis of coming from Howard Gordon, a producer on both ‘The X-Files’ and ’24’ (not to mention ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Homeland’). Gordon produces a lot of shows, and not all of them are as good as those. More to the point, ‘Second Chance’ was created by Rand Ravich, who made NBC’s intriguing (if short-lived) ‘Life’. Regardless of who’s responsible, this one’s a pretty big cheesefest.

We start with a slumming Philip Baker Hall playing Jimmy Pritchard, a crotchety old man with a fondness for booze and whores. We soon learn that Jimmy is also a former sheriff disgraced for planting evidence. (Don’t be surprised if a later plot twist reveals that he never actually did it.) These days, he doesn’t get much respect from anyone, least of all his son Duval (Tim DeKay from ‘White Collar’), who’s a straight-laced FBI agent.

One night, while visiting his son’s house to collect some old possessions, Jimmy interrupts a pair of home intruders, who drag him out to a bridge and toss him off, staging the scene to look like a suicide. That may be the last we’ll see of Philip Baker Hall, but it’s not the last we’ll see of Jimmy.

His body is collected from the morgue by billionaire twins Otto and Mary Goodwin (Adhir Kalyan from ‘Aliens in America’ and Dilshad Vadsaria from ‘Revenge’), who run a major social media empire, which somehow in this universe equates to also being brilliant scientists. Otto is the eccentric genius with social anxiety issues, and Mary runs the company. As it turns out, Mary is dying and Otto is desperate to save her. (For an end-stage terminal cancer patient on death’s door, Mary has no visible ill-effects from either the disease or the chemotherapy, and a weird habit of strutting around in sexy midriff-baring lingerie.)

Otto suspends Jimmy’s body (or a super-crappy CGI facsimile of it) in a big glass water tank and uses science magic to de-age him to a younger, healthier state and revive him back to life. The new, revitalized Jimmy (now played by Robert Kazinsky) has all of his old memories, but is super-strong and virile and has enhanced senses. However, he has to go back in the water tank every 12 hours or his body goes through “rejection” and he gets weak and will die again. The point of all this is that he also now has magic blood which can cure Mary’s cancer. It’s a win-win for everybody!

Of course, Jimmy insists on solving his own murder. Without revealing who he really is, Jimmy gives his son Duval evidence that one of the intruders was his FBI partner, who’s part of a ring of corrupt agents. The implication is that future episodes will focus on Jimmy helping his son solve crimes, thus allowing them to bond and reconnect.

Episode Verdict / Grade: D

In a nutshell, the show is a little bit of ‘Frankenstein’ with a little bit of ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’, put through the blender of a formulaic cop procedural with a convenient ticking-clock conceit automatically built into every episode for easy suspense. It’s dumb and lame, and Kazinsky (who played the annoying vampire Warlow in the final season of ‘True Blood’) doesn’t put any particular effort into mimicking Philip Baker Hall to convince us that they’re the same character.

I have no interest in describing the plot in any more detail than that. This is definitely a one-and-done viewing for me. I will not be giving ‘Second Chance’ a second chance.

1 comment

  1. C.C.

    Interesting that you call it “a little bit Frankenstein” – since I believe that was the original title before they started endless tinkering after (I guess) test screenings went badly.

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