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ABC's Forever – Or How To Frankenstein Together A Television Show

Forever-poster-ABC-season-1-2014Never judge a series by its pilot. That's a pretty good rule of thumb as most series tend to get better once the pressure of the pilot is past. Writer's become more free to stretch things out instead of just making one "wow them" episode. So I'm holding judgment on the new series until a second episode airs… which has happened already for the new ABC series Forever.

If you haven't seen the episodes yet, there are minor spoilers here that you would find in the show synopsis. So be warned.

On the surface it comes across like a Frankenstein's monster of a show. We start with the dead body of the Fox series New Amsterdam, a very short lived show about a New York homicide detective played by Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is inexplicably immortal and solves crime while living in a bar that his son runs (who is now older). So Forever gets the equally hard to pronounce Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four) to play a guy who is inexplicably immortal and solves crimes. But have him living in an antique shop with an older man who he has raised… and they get Judd Hirsh to play him because everyone loves Judd Hirsh as the dad on Numb3rs. And they make the guy a medical examiner like in Bones and even add the really annoying intern guy (Joel David Moore) to play the same part. But then they mix in some Castle by giving him a female detective (Alana De La Garza) to work with who is emotionally scarred by a death of a loved one. And they make him super observant like Sherlock on Elementary but without the rude bits. And finally they make him charmingly awkward and show him with no shirt on often.

I hope you are still reading at this point, because the above description is extremely accurate and unfair to the show. Gruffudd performance as Henry Morgan is unique and this show will succeed or fail based on his portrayal. You get to like him almost immediately. He's brilliant but not pompous. There is a sincerity to his acting that rises above the shows concept. Hirsh is exactly what you would want him to be and comes across with a genuine affection for his friend. And De La Garza isn't written as a sidekick or disbeliever. She quickly shows faith in Morgan's abilities and becomes a partner.

But the one thing this show has that the others don't is a mystery above and beyond the weekly cases. Not just how it is that Morgan regenerates… they are calling him immortal which isn't true as he can die, he just suddenly transports into the water. Kind of a Doctor Who trick… but also we find out early on that someone else knows Morgan's secret and claims to be the same way but much older. This is the type of mystery that could keep fans coming back regularly just to see the next clue.

The show is definitely geared toward the Castle fans in so much that it debuted in Castle's time-slot and then aired a second episode in its regular slot the very next night. You can see from that move that ABC wants to give this show the best chance to survive.

If viewers can look past the jigsaw way the show was conceived, then I think this could be one of the surprise hits of the season.

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Dan WicklineAbout Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
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