Is there noth­ing new to im­mor­tal­ity?

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - View Screen -

Im­mor­tal­ity is a curse. Not so much for the world- weary im­mor­tals doomed to an eter­nity of Dave re­peats but rather for us, the poor TV view­ers sub­jected to an end­less suc­ces­sion of shows about the un­grate­ful whingers. For­ever, the new New Am­s­ter­dam, is the lat­est show to be added to the ever liv­ing list, and it brings pre­cious lit­tle orig­i­nal­ity to the ta­ble. Not just in terms of the im­mor­tal­ity genre, but TV drama in gen­eral.

Ioan Gruf­fudd ( Horn­blower, Fan­tas­tic Four) plays Henry Mor­gan who, 200 years ago, for no ad­e­quately ex­plained rea­son, be­came im­mor­tal. Now, when­ever he dies, his body van­ishes and he’s re­born aged 35- ish, al­ways emerg­ing from a body of wa­ter, com­pletely naked. We know all this within the first five min­utes of the first episode be­cause Gruf­fudd hand­ily nar­rates the in­for­ma­tion in character, read­ing sleep­ily in the style of a man nar­rat­ing a Win­nie The Pooh tale on Jack­anory. It’s a cu­ri­ous man­ner he re­tains for the co­pi­ous voiceovers through­out the whole se­ries.

Hav­ing spent some time work­ing as a doc­tor and a gravedig­ger, Mor­gan is now test­ing his skills as a po­lice pathol­o­gist be­cause, he says, “when you’re ob­sessed with death, you go where the ac­tion is.” We know, how­ever, that he’s re­ally do­ing the job be­cause once a US TV writer has come up a con­cept, the next step is graft­ing that con­cept to a crime for­mat. They have to: a show about an im­mor­tal hair­dresser is go­ing to be re­ally dull.

Mor­gan also seems to have an eide­tic mem­ory, be­cause he spots clues at crime scenes like Sher­lock Holmes wield­ing his favourite mag­ni­fy­ing glass, and reads sus­pects like Pa­trick Jayne in The Men­tal­ist. So that’s handy. He also has his very own scep­ti­cal po­lice part­ner, a geeky med­i­cal foren­sic and an abra­sive boss who’s ac­tu­ally on his side. There’s an arc plot con­cern­ing a mys­te­ri­ous, im­mor­tal ad­ver­sary for Henry. Any­one spot­ted a USP yet? No? Let’s move on.

What is dif­fer­ent about the show is the tone. It’s not dark and dour, it’s fluffy and light­weight, in the vein of The Men­tal­ist, and its best fea­ture is the fun it has killing off Henry at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, of­ten in bizarre cir­cum­stances. He even strate­gi­cally elects to die on oc­ca­sions, if it proves con­ve­nient. The cases of the week are mildly di­vert­ing and the char­ac­ters have been well cast so it’s a per­fectly watch­able show. It’s also, sadly, almost to­tally for­get­table. Dave Golder

It was of­fi­cially the worst Christ­mas ever.

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