TV Review - Forever (2014)

Ioan Gruffudd is in the running for
sexiest immortal in "Forever"
This show is just another gimmick for a police procedural program. It's not as serious as something like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or Criminal Minds. It's more akin to the quasi-comedic, buddy cop shows like Castle, which is probably its closet comparison. It's also in-line with the slate of shows that center around a super smart or super-skilled detective or doctor with a female companion who helps him solve cases.

Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four and Ringer) stars as Henry Morgan, a scientist and doctor in the New York Medical Examiner's Office. He partners with Detective Jo Martinez, played by Alana De La Garza (Law & Order and Do No Harm), and helps her to solve various murders. The gimmick is that if Henry dies, he is then magically resurrected and immediately teleported into a nearby body of water naked.

This raises a lot of questions that don't really get answered after 4 episodes. He originally died 200 years ago at the age of 35. He was a doctor defending a slave on a seafaring vessel. He was shot and fell overboard and that started his constant rebirths. Obviously, like the cheerleader in the NBC series Heroes, it would make sense that Henry would experiment with trying to kill himself, but how much of that 200 years was spent of him not dying?

He could conceivably go about 100 years before he finally died of natural causes, but he would eventually wrinkle and his body would degenerate. Yet, he doesn't look like he's aged or aging at all. He still looks like a handsome man in his mid to late 30's. Does he not age like a vampire? Does he age but when he dies, his body resets or reverts back to the age he was when he originally passed?

Henry starts to address the edges of these questions in the beginning of Episode 4, but it's a wonder why these questions weren't more addressed in either the first or second. The pilot kicks things off rather well. Its plot apes M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable where you have the main character and a rival who wants to test and toy with the main character's super power.

Judd Hirsch also co-stars as Abe, the elderly owner of an antiques shop who knows Henry's secret. Henry in fact lives with Abe and operates a secret laboratory in Abe's shop. Given their dynamics, there's a sense of a father-and-son relationship. The twist is that despite looking older, Abe is the adopted son of Henry. Abe was a baby that Henry raised. Abe got older. Henry remained the same, but the two love each other.

This show has flashbacks that reveal Henry's life over the past 200 years. I normally don't mind flashbacks, but, aside from the flashback that reveals Abe is his son, all the other Henry flashbacks don't add much of anything that feels significant or substantial to understanding Henry's power or how he managed to fly under the radar of being immortal for 200 years and then able to work in such an important position in New York City.

There is some religious aspects to this. In Episode 2, Henry gets a call from his rival or nemesis who admits to having the same power as Henry. The rival calls himself "Adam" and claims to have lived for 2000 years, which would put him alive during the time of Jesus Christ. Resurrection was a key power of Christ. It's sad that the Adam character is ignored for the next two episodes though.

A scene in Episode 4 has Abe pulling Henry from his lab to go out and skateboard. The point is for Henry to stop and smell the roses, which is ridiculous to say to a man who's lived for 200 years. It devalues the importance of death. Even though Henry is about studying death or his resurrection power, that moment pulls us from seeing him study it and that's frustrating. Seeing him do the usual murder-of-the-week, police procedural thing is lame by comparison, and if that's the case, the gimmick is just that and is a waste.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG-LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Tuesdays at 10PM on ABC.


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