Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Forever has what I like to call a "Golden Premise." It is a premise so solid, so rife with drama and intellectual depth that there is no end to its potential. It is the story of a man who cannot die. With every death, he is reborn in the nearest river, completely intact. He never ages, never dies, never changes, as he travels through history. In this iteration of the premise (previously explored in the failed show, New Amsterdam), our hero is Henry Morgan (the ever talented and obnoxiously spelled Ioan Gruffudd) who uses his invisibility and wisdom to solve murder mysteries because god forbid we have to think of something original for our characters to do.
Like many many other shows blessed with a Golden Premise, this show squanders every good thing it has going for it. You know you're in trouble when the first scene of the pilot involves a dashing man on a train, explaining to a young woman how he knows she is a cellist on her way to a performance just by looking at her. (I recently wrote at length about how much I hate the "magic disguised as intelligence" trick.) Luckily, this ludicrous waste of time is followed by a train crash that kills literally every character we've met so far (which should be the beginning to more pilots in my opinion).
From here, the plot moves along like any stupid detective procedural centered around a magically brilliant roguish type. There are a few stellar performances, a few not so stellar ones. There are some interesting uses of Morgan's abilities (identifying a poison by consuming it and observing how it kills him) and some laughably stupid uses of his abilities (e.g. everything else that happens). And there is potential for a will-they-won't-they, just in case everyone involved completely runs out of interest in making a good TV show.
It is my opinion that good television should either exceed or subvert expectation. You have a scene where a dog notices little Timmy has fallen down a well? Well, you either have the dog fly Timmy out with a jet pack, or you have Timmy be a dog serial killer who uses the well routine to lure new victims. It seems the writers of Forever aim to make an exact duplicate of your expectations with no variance. It's a forgery, but close enough to pass as a real show without too many people noticing.