3 out of 5
Created by: Matt Miller
Covers season 1 (…and then it was canceled)
Harmless and entertaining, ‘Forever’ plotted itself into a corner which prevented it from really capitalizing on its core concept, which, although fine for “Dad” programming on a TNT or the like, without a grabbing central star, pretty much guaranteed the show would really have to fight for an audience. That’s not to say the main players – Ioin Gruffudd as lead Dr. Henry Morgan, NYC Medical Examiner, Alan de la Garza as Detective Jo Martinez, and Judd Hirsch as Abe Morgan – weren’t well cast and likeable, or that the killer-of-the-week format doesn’t produce some fun mysteries, just that the show very quickly settles into formula without really trying to win anyone over, first. The confidence is comforting when you go with it, but doesn’t do much for defining a show in a crowded TV landscape.
The setup: Dr. Henry Morgan uses his encyclopedic knowledge of factoids and human behavior to posit himself as a valuable source for Detective Jo to assist in solving seemingly open-and-shut but actually oddball crimes. Also, he’s immortal – he can die, but is resurrected – and is maybe sorta seeking the “cure” for his condition, hence enjoying his role as ME as it puts him close to studying death. He lives with his Abe, he looks old enough to be his father but is actually his son, as Henry does not age beyond the point of when he endured his affliction. Initially, the show uses Henry’s inability to die for quirky ways of investigating crimes, a formula we’ve seen time and again in different formats (and recently in iZombie as well), but once this gets tired, it falls back on his wealth of knowledge for Holmesian snap analyses of crime scenes. Unfortunately, just being immortal doesn’t really guarantee one would retain all of this knowledge, so that has nothing to do with his abilities and all to do with Henry, whom Gruffudd gives a wonderfully likeable detached charm. The show tries to hold on to the immortal bit by having Henry flashback to relevant moments from his past… but really, it’s an unnecessary device, as is the “quest for a cure,” since Henry’s son is still around, and… that’s a trickier emotional formula than ‘Forever’ is willing to try for. There’s also another immortal bopping about, which the show tries to spin into a season-long mystery, but it lacks consequence beyond “I know your secret.” So we really just end up with a police procedural with a brilliant quirky dude solving crimes, and for better or worse, those shows are a dime a dozen. Not all of them are as laid back pleasant as Forever, but there are plenty with more arresting visual styles or attention-grabbing leads to pull in the ratings. So it’s not a surprise Forever didn’t last beyond a season, but it’s appreciated it did give us a full season of quirky crime-solving for our viewing pleasure – and, happily, an excellent final episode.