Review: Forever

I recently posted a message on Facebook saying that based on the premise of the new ABC drama “Forever” it probably would not last as long as the title suggested. And while it won’t last forever, but certainly should last much longer than I first expected. The main character is Dr. Henry Morgan portrayed by Ioan Gruffudd you may recognize as Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four film series but more recently appeared in the TV series Ringer where he was has been to Sarah Michelle Geller. The title “Forever” comes from the fact that Dr. Morgan apparently cannot die. The show opens with him getting killed in a New York City subway train crash and then he miraculously reemerges in the middle of the Hudson River totally naked but otherwise unharmed.

I recently asked about the series “Z Nation” the question “Do we really need another zombie show?” And one might rightly ask “Do we need another show about immortals?” We got vampire stories that are semi-immortal or at least can heal quickly. Add to that list Wolverine from the X-Men. You’ve got Christopher Lambert in the Highlander series of TV and film. And let’s not forget my favorite Capt. Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood fame. My point is this is been done before so what else can be brought to the genre? As it turns out they may have found a reasonably interesting new twist.

After the subway crash and resurrection, in voiceover he explains that 200 years ago he was a board a slave ship as the ship’s doctor. When the crew tried to throw overboard one of the slaves who simply had a cold and was not infected with cholera, Dr. Morgan intervened and tried to save the man. For his efforts he got shot in the chest and thrown overboard himself. This was Morgan’s first death and he has resurrected many times since then. In present day is a New York City medical examiner which allows him to study the phenomena of death up close.

The only person who knows his secret with his friend Abe played by Judd Hirsch. It’s obvious that their relationship goes back many years but you don’t really find out how they met until the very end of the first episode and I will not spoil that surprise for you but look for it carefully or you may miss it. His assistant in the medical examiner’s office is Lucas Wahl played by Joel David Moore who you have previously seen in 14 episodes of Bones as one of Dr. Brennan’s many interns. The other major character is the very sexy Detective Jo Martinez played by Alana De La Garza who you might recognize as Marisol Delco Caine from CSI: Miami. And more recently the TV series “Do No Harm“.

Dr. Morgan himself having lived over 200 years trying to solve the mystery of his existence is a very observant and analytical person with a Sherlock-Holmes-like ability to just look at you and know your life story. I suppose you have to ask do we need another Sherlock Holmes character and I’m not sure about that. Morgan seems to be constantly pining over the lost love of his life Abigail whom he met in World War II when we see parts of their relationship told in various flashbacks. The whole “being immortal is no fun because you have to all of your loved ones die” plot line is also not at all original.

So it seems like they’ve taken a lot of old ideas: immortality, Holmesian deduction, lost love due to immortality etc. and thrown them together. But for some strange reason it all really works for me. Some of it is the witty dialogue in which he somewhat sarcastically yet humorously talks about all the different ways that he’s died. For example when someone seems to us found out secret he tries to decide whether to run or face them. He recounts other bad experiences when someone figured out is immortality. He had his blood drained, organs removed, hanged as a heretic and then casually says “Hang me once shame on you, hang me twice…”. In another throw away line he says things like “That would hurt like getting a blunt object punched in your spleen which believe me is no fun!” Someone will have to create a wiki webpage to keep track of all the ways he’s claimed to have died.

In my most recent review of “Scorpion” I bemoaned it having “plot driven technology” and I long for a show that had “technology driven plot” where you introduce some strange new technology or in this case the ability to be reborn each time you die and then you ask the question “What if?”. That’s exactly what this series does and does so brilliantly. For example when he’s trying to figure out what kind of poison was used to kill the subway driver and he can’t get the tox screen quickly enough, he injects himself with blood from the corpse that still contains the poison just so we can see how he himself dies thus identifying the poison. And a bit of a spoiler, at the end of the episode when he’s trying to stop the bad guy and the only way to do it is to throw him off the roof of the building, he ends up having to fall off the building with the bad guy knowing that he’s just going to reboot but the bad guy will be stopped from poisoning thousands of people in Grand Central Station. The point is he’s taken this strange ability and turned it into a tool that lets him do his job. It may be a jumble of retread ideas but it is smart and clever and occasionally funny and a little bit dramatic and it seems to have peaks my interest very much so.

I’m giving it a very definite “I’m Watching” rating.

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