“My life is just like yours except for one small difference. It never ends.” So states Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), doctor the lead in the new drama Forever, page which premieres tonight on ABC. The show follows the familiar trend of featuring a main character who can easily detect clues about another person’s life by simply taking a glance at them (very similar to the character of Sherlock Holmes, a figure who has not one but two successful programs focused on him right now).
That type of character— comparable also to Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory— is keenly observant, serious, and lacks a proper sense of humor. Those qualities are shared by Morgan.
The question is therefore if this show still works on a familiar character facing the distinct twist of being unbreakable. Each time the never-aging Morgan dies, he comes back to life and reappears naked emerging from a body of water.
To my pleasant surprise, Forever works with a solid lead actor and the warm dynamic he shares with Abe (Judd Hirsch), an older man who is one of the few who knows Morgan’s secret. Morgan, having lived for over 200 years, understandably wants to live a life of solitude (“I’ve fought in wars and seen more than my share of death,” he says). Abe wants him to loosen up and develop more personal relationships though. “You might not be able to die but you haven’t lived for a long time,” he notes.
Some of the dialogue is admittedly trite and there a few obvious jokes about Morgan’s inability to die (i.e. “Please kill me now”). The show’s hook though, along with the secret that Morgan is trying to hide from others (he’s been experimented on before with few conclusive results), does keep the momentum building. During the second episode (which was available for review along with the pilot), Morgan is nearly killed and we realize that his death wouldn’t be the worst outcome for him. The worst outcome is that his secret would be revealed, jeopardizing his new relationship with the diligent Detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza).
At the end of the first two episodes, it feels like Morgan and the detective will begin solving cases together on a week by week basis. Fortunately for viewers, the cases presented are well-written and crafted. The second episode’s case of a murdered professor offered up a few neat twists that made it stand out.
It’s possible that the characters could get tiring but the first few episodes offer up enough intrigue to keep me interested in what happens next. An ongoing storyline about another man who may or may not have the same issue as Morgan also offers up some intrigue. That focus is only hinted at here but it seems inevitable that that storyline will be explored more if this show lasts as long as ts creators hope. Forever may be an obvious mix of a lot of other properties (Unbreakable, Groundhog Day and Sherlock come to mind immediately) but it’s an entertaining combination that should be given a chance to grow.