Is there nothing new to immortality?
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.