TV Review: ‘Forever’

Ioan Gruffudd, Judd Hirsch, Alana De La Garza, Lorraine Touissant, Donnie Keshawarz, Joel David Moore

For some reason, TV has a bad habit of squandering immortality in the context of pedestrian police procedurals. Fox did as much in “New Amsterdam,” and ABC apes the formula in “Forever,” an oddly uninvolving drama that forces one to contemplate what “Castle” might look like if the lead character couldn’t die. Star Ioan Gruffudd is likable enough, but the rules of the show — poorly explained though they might be — tend to blunt any emotional attachment. Given ABC’s trio of strikeouts in the timeslot last year, the title seems overly ambitious; for starters, “November” sounds like a more reasonable goal.

Gruffudd’s Henry is working as a medical examiner in New York City, where his secret is known only to his blustery sidekick Abe (Judd Hirsch). More than 200 years ago Henry was struck by lightning, resulting in a condition where no matter how he dies, he immediately comes back — naked, and in water.

Aside from the parallels to the birthing process, this creates some peculiar opportunities, as well as considerable awkwardness when he’s on a subway car that crashes, resulting in multiple fatalities. Working the case brings him into contact with a detective, Jo Martinez (“Law & Order” alumna Alana De La Garza), who is suspicious of Henry, but can only fritter around the edges of what might be weird about him.

Yet once series creator Matt Miller has established the basic premise, Henry’s predicament raises more questions than it answers — starting with why anyone should become invested in his fate when those circumstances allow him to be utterly fearless. As a second episode makes clear, the producers do intend to have some fun with Henry’s rather morbid familiarity with different ways to die, given as he is to cavalierly comparing one to another.

Nor do the threads of an underlying mystery and threat — signaling a deeper mythology — add much zest to Henry’s backstory, beyond offering some hope that this won’t just be a cop drama where the hero periodically gets recycled.

There is, inevitably, the promise of chemistry developing between the central duo, but even that only makes the series feel more mundane than its concept. (Lorraine Touissant does join the show as Martinez’s boss in the second episode — as the show shifts to a regular Tuesday slot in which we scarcely had time to get to know “Lucky 7,” “Killer Women” and “Mind Games” — after a Monday preview.)

Granted, Fox has garnered a fair amount of mileage out of another pairing of a female cop and anachronistic male hero on “Sleepy Hollow” — a series with its own twist on returning after death. But even with that precedent, “Forever” just doesn’t feel built to last.

TV Review: 'Forever'

(Series; ABC, Mon. Sept. 22, 10 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in New York by Lin Pictures and Good Session Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Crew: Executive producers, Matt Miller, Dan Lin, Jennifer Gwartz, Brad Anderson; producer, Raymond Quinlan; director, Anderson; writer, Miller; camera, Tom Yatsko; production designer, Stuart Wurtzel; editor, Matt Barber; music, Josh Kramon; casting, Barbara Fiorentino. 60 MIN.

Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Judd Hirsch, Alana De La Garza, Lorraine Touissant, Donnie Keshawarz, Joel David Moore

More TV

  • Winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song

    Netherlands' Duncan Laurence Wins 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

    Madonna’s controversial performance may have grabbed the headlines, but Duncan Laurence won the nearly four-hour-long 2019 Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands with the song “Arcade,” which he cowrote with Joel Sjöö and Wouter Hardy. Laurence won a total of 492 points from the expert juries and televoters in a contest that was touch and [...]

  • 'SNL' Cold Open Has Alec Baldwin's

    'SNL' Cold Open Has Alec Baldwin's Trump Rocking Out to Queen

    The cold open for the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” saw the Trump administration taking some liberties with a rock classic. Alec Baldwin returned as President Donald Trump, letting America know that he is going to be taking it easy now that summer is nearly here. He then said he was going to do [...]

  • Great Point Invests in U.K. Indie

    Great Point Invests in U.K. Indie Producer Seven Seas (EXCLUSIVE)

    U.K.-based Great Point has bought into Seven Seas Films, the British indie producer that recently teamed with BBC Studios for a drama series about the final months of Marilyn Monroe. Great Point has a new “enterprise investment scheme” fund, Great Point Ventures, and is primed to invest in several more film and TV producers in [...]

  • Outlander Season 4 Finale

    What CBS' Pursuit of Starz Means for CBS, Lionsgate

    CBS’ effort to buy pay TV service Starz from Lionsgate seems on the surface to be a head scratcher. CBS has told Wall Street for years that it has prospered because it brings only two must-have services to the table in negotiations with MVPDs, allowing the Eye to drive a hard bargain. Why would CBS [...]

  • Doha Film Institute Steps Up Documentaries

    Doha Film Institute Steps Up Documentaries and TV Series Grants

    The Doha Film Institute, which is at Cannes as a co-financier of Elia Suleiman’s competition entry “It Must Be Heaven,” has announced the 37 projects receiving its Spring Grants, roughly half of them to be directed by women. The latest batch of mostly Arabic fare set to tap into support from the DFI, a key [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content