Dr Henry Morgan: not the most obvious candidate for immortality, but that’s his gift (or his curse). Working in the New York Medical Examiner’s Office, he pursues his interest in what makes people tick – in amongst getting killed, and waking up in the waters of one of the rivers…
There’s elements of the short-lived New Amsterdam show from a few years back, the Highlander franchise, and Torchwood’s Captain Jack in this new lightweight detective show on ABC in the States and coming to Sky 1 later in the year. Hornblower’s Ioan Gruffudd makes a very likeable lead, with Judd Hirsch as his (mortal) friend, the only one who knows his secret.
Morgan’s great lifespan has enabled him to develop his observational skills, which he demonstrates as a cut-price Sherlock Holmes in the opening few minutes, and again later when he meets Alana de la Garza’s widowed Detective Martinez. It’s also given him a degree of a death wish – in the course of this first episode, he’s killed once, but commits suicide twice, and you get the definite feeling that he wouldn’t be overly worried if he didn’t come back to life.
As befits a good pilot episode, there are hints of a longer-running arc, as Morgan learns of someone else who knows his secret, and there’s a decent chemistry between Gruffudd and de la Garza. The flashbacks to various parts of Morgan’s life could be a good tool if used sparingly, but I’d lay odds they’ll be the first thing to go if there are budgetary considerations.
Joel David Moore plays Morgan’s lab assistant, effectively reprising his role from Bones – for one lovely moment, I thought he was playing the same character, leading to a very intriguing crossover as Brennan’s down to Earth attitude met Morgan’s immortality – and there are various other small parts who have yet to make an impact.
It may come as a surprise to the makers of this show, but most medical examiners (even the greatest of them all, Quincy M.E.) don’t normally find themselves being blown away/poisoned/shot at/killed by mutant okapi or whatever fates they have in store for Morgan. If Forever is to succeed, they need to maintain a difficult balancing act of keeping it credible while still showcasing their hero’s differences. A lot of questions are raised about Morgan, but Gruffudd’s easy charm helps to keep them at the back of your mind while watching.
Verdict: An entertaining, if not yet particularly original, hour. 7/10