‘Forever’ is a new ABC medical drama about Henry Morgan, a medical examiner who has existed for over two hundred years. I say existed because he has died numerous times (three or four in the first two episodes alone) but he always returns in the water near the shore of New York with his deceased body disappearing whenever this occurs. And in a little stunt ala ‘Time Traveler’s Wife,’ he is naked.
Yep. Each and every time.
Despite ABC’s odd treatment of shoving the pilot a day before the actual shows time-slot, it proves to be a decent showing. We are introduced to the main trio of characters with the mysterious Henry Morgan, his friend and the only one who knows his secret, Abe, as well as police detective Jo Martinez.
Both of the episodes make it clear Henry is front and center here. His companion Abe is neglected to only a scene or two in each episode. Detective Martinez becomes something of an annoyance, which is disappointing considering how strongly she is introduced. Little is said of her and she doesn’t seem the type to reveal much, if anything so is given a nice air of mystery about her. An aura shattered in her first scene with Henry where he reveals anything and everything about her with his random ability to read people. A skill which comes off rather Sherlock-lite and isn’t explained other than the fact he has been around for hundreds of years. I’m fine with a bit of intrigue surrounding someone’s skills, but when a show is willing to explain exactly how his immortality came about in the first five minutes, not explaining something far less seems an odd decision.
The trappings of the plot are unfortunately very mystery-of-the-week with a deadly subway accident that (of course) the protagonist was involved in. While it is serviceable for an introduction to the cast, it falters in bringing the overall plot to a decent start. It seems every action in the show could potentially be connected to this dark voice on the phone that keeps calling Henry and claiming to know about his ability, seemingly possessing the same traits as he. This trend is especially evident in the second episode, where Henry investigates the death of a girl everyone else deems a suicide but he thinks was a murder because, again, he knows people. Apparently even those he never spoke to before.
The possible connection to someone like him is a great device and could potentially elevate the show. With how it is being used currently though, it feels more like one string keeping the whole fabric from tearing apart than actual plot threads. An annoying trend is the show’s tendency to have interesting plot points thumped out almost immediately. For example, Henry has a secret lab under his residence in which he tries to uncover the secrets of his immortality… only to have it discovered by the police halfway through the pilot. Abe knows Henry’s secret and has a strange connection that has kept them together for a number of years… and the reason is revealed a few scenes later.
There is a decent show buried beneath all these odd decisions. Perhaps a few more episodes will help to polish it up. As it stands, though, the only thing infinite about ‘Forever’ is the number of other shows it emulates.