Forever (2018, Amazon)

3 out of 5

Created by: Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard

An airy, amusing – but ultimately mundane – drama-sprinkled-comedy about life and death and finding meaning thereabouts.  The Good Place is a good touchpoint, as a show that studies similar concepts and bounces around between some valid (if generally surface level) questions and a sense of mirth, but Forever tends to be much more interested in coasting than at least trying to dig deeper.

Husband and wife Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph find themselves in a pleasant marriage, both, in their own ways, staving off the nagging feeling that day-in, day-out is the same.  Rudolph does dry-humored snark; Armisen does innocent aloofness.  You’ve seen it before, but creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard appreciably don’t lump blame on one person or one situation, nor do they offer up any easy solutions.  That realism – that life truly doesn’t have answers – is mostly what puts it on par with The Good Place, along with some of the quirkier setup elements when our husband and wife find themselves separated, and then brought back together.

Unfortunately, thereafter it’s essentially just more of the same.  More snark; more aloofness.  Catherine Keener shows up to echo the What’s This Life Thing All About? question while tinkly music plays, and the world in which our characters find themselves feels too loosely defined to ever really effectively ground the conversation.  It feels more like an extended play in that sense: some chairs and one wall piece set up to let you know you’re in a kitchen or whatever, with the rest of it left unmentioned and undescribed so the focus can be on character.  And while our characters here are certainly pleasant to follow about, the material doesn’t require them to extend in any notable direction, making the lacking set dressing that much more apparent.

Had the series tried to continue on past its 8-episode point, my rating might be lower.  The criticism mentioned above starts to grow more and more impactful as we move into the show’s last act.  It certainly has potential to develop on its themes more – whether via character or premise – but nothing indicated an intention to do that, which could be a meta commentary but I somehow doubt it.

So, yes, you’re reading that right: Forever nets three stars for being easy to watch, and for not being bad, but it’s light-handed and ephemeral as all get out, and leaves just before it overstays its welcome.

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