Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Forever" in Our Heart: Our First Love Letter to a New 2014 Series

After watching the first two episodes of ABC's new drama Forever, we are moved to declare our affection for this charming series.  We wanted to get our feelings out there early because we all know how hard it is for a new show to find a footing and a fan base.  If there's any way we can get you to start watching this one we will have done our duty!

Forever -- about a police medical examiner who happens to be over 200 years old and counting...he's immortal -- has aired two episodes so far.  It seems weird to say that the premise of a show about an immortal man sounds a lot like several other shows, but there are elements of Forever which bring to mind other series.  Most particularly New Amsterdam, a Fox show a few years ago which starred Game of Thrones' Nicolaj Coster-Waldau as a never-can-die NYC cop, Sleepy Hollow, and probably Highlander and others, too.  What makes Forever worth checking out is something that's been picked up in a few reviews of the series, namely a  leading man that's closer to Doctor Who than New Amsterdam's cop or various vampires who never kick the bucket.

Viewers who like standard police procedurals will probably find something to love in Forever, though this series doesn't look like it will be wallowing in the gratuitous blood and TV-safe gore of most of that genre. Those shows thrive on conjuring up nasty deaths to sufficiently titillate an America thirsting for TV that's at least a little more violent than what's on the news, and the procedurals fill that gap with sadistic glee.  I call that sad trend "granny gore" --  plenty enough blood to keep the old folks' own blood percolating, though what a despicable excuse for entertainment.

Audiences who crave the thrill of the whodunit will be attracted to Forever for those plotlines, old-fashioned but seasoned with a bit of Castle or Bones-like charisma (though the producer has promised no hanky-panky between the leads, for which I say hurrah.)  If you're a fan of The Mentalist or Elementary then Forever may also hit you where you like it, with its smartypants lead character being able to figure out things that nobody else can.  Those Sherlock Holmes-ish impulses are on display but also tempered with what could be the most compelling aspect of Forever, its humanity. and that's where it intersects with Doctor Who.

Somewhat tragic yet triumphant leading characters lend a melancholy tinge to some series.  We watch and delight in Doctor Who knowing that the fellow we love playing The Doctor won't be around forever, he will regenerate into someone else though always as The Doctor, giving the character immortality if not the actor playing him.  In Forever, we're faced with a lead who has been afflicted or cursed with immortality and seemingly has had enough of life.  He would welcome the end of it, owing to the unceasing sadness of always having to say goodbye as those around him pass away.

What Forever has, like Doctor Who, is a reflective heart, a kind center, a decency that I don't see much of in the shows that mostly like to smear blood and guts on the audience and foment dread.  Give us something with a bit of charm, not because we can't take the other, but because we're sick of watching TV that's making producers rich while damaging society in a real way.  When you can count on one hand the shows that aren't ankle-deep in shredded flesh, it's time to let something in for a change.

So, maybe Forever is just a police show with a little twist, but it's a nice twist, and played to perfection by the utterly appealing and gentlemanly Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd -- pronounced Yo-an Griffith -- with able assist from Judd Hirsch and Alana De La Garza. Gruffudd & Hirsch's relationship is sweet and that's nothing to apologize for  Give Forever a try.  It airs Tuesdays at 10pm on ABC-- tonight!-- and you can catch up on ABC's website and OnDemand.

If  you're interested in reading more of what people are saying about Forever -- but please make up your own mind -- here are some links: The New York Times review of Forever here; Variety's not-overly-enthusiastic review here; Entertainment Weekly's review here; Flavorwire on the show here; New Orleans Time-Picayune here; USA Today here; The Los Angeles Times here; NY Magazine's Vulture here; Fashion & Style here; Bleeding Cool here; The Hollywood Reporter here; Collider here; Den of Geek here; IGN here; a nice article on Give Me My Remote here; The American Journal here, and an aggregation on Metacritic here.

Forever may have what it takes to become a people's favorite, but it will take more than that to keep it on the air.  Let's see if Forever can make it for the long haul...but something short of forever, eh?

P.S.:  And for another recommendation from us, try out Selfie which premieres tonight, if only for the talents of John Cho and Karen Gillan. ABC at 8pm Tuesdays.

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