Take Me To The Pilots ’14: ABC’s ‘Forever’

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show: “Forever” (ABC)
The Pitch: “New Amsterbland” or “Ele-Meh-ntary”
Quick Response: Wait. Give me a second. People tend to read “bland” is a negative and it doesn't need to be. I think “Castle” is also bland, but I find it blandly charming and blandly pleasant. I just watch “Castle” each week knowing that the chances of it challenging me on ANY level are something below zero. And if ABC cared about such things, “Castle” should have swapped nights at some point and “Forever” should be airing at 10 p.m. after “Castle,” because I think fans of one will like the other. Ioan Gruffudd isn't quite the happy-to-spend-44-minutes-per-week-with-him bon vivant that Nathan Fillion is, but when he gets to speak with his native accent, he's hardly an inert blob. He's coasting purely on charisma here, but Matthew Miller's high concept premise — Dude gets immortality and, thanks to endless spare time, basically becomes Sherlock Holmes — practically requires it, since unlike Jonny Lee Miller's CBS Holmes, there are no real rough edges to this character. This guy would be annoying, because he seems to know literally everything, but he flashes a cock-eyed smile and… Oh who cares! Joining Gruffudd's Pretty Guy You Can't Hate are an assortment of vaguely sketched character types including Judd Hirsch as Wise Philosophical Jew, Alana de la Garza as Brassy Latina Cop and Joe David Moore as Socially Awkward Nerd in Lab. [Awesome “OITNB” veteran Lorraine Toussaint will join the cast as Stern Black Authority Figure.] The immortality angle yields a couple semi-interesting flashbacks involving Mackenzie Mauzy and I think there's some potential to the character dynamics it might yield. It also plays into a pilot that suggests a bit more of a serialized aspect than something like “Castle,” where only the Castle-Beckett relationship has been meaningfully serialized and maybe 75% of episodes could be watched out-of-order or, in the case of DVR overflow, skipped entirely. With a show this slight, instant chemistry is essential and I think Gruffudd and Alana de la Garza have that chemistry off-the-bat, which isn't unimpressive since both actors have been prone to some chilliness with co-stars in the past. I wish the comedy/quirkiness provided by Hirsch and Moore felt fresher and, in the pilot, Moore in particular feels like he's there because somebody thought the character was necessary for dramatic symmetry and not because anybody had an idea.
Desire To Watch Again: Tepid, but not negligible. As I'm mostly committed to “Castle,” I can't say that I need another “Castle” in my life. However, since I felt like the real “Castle” had a weak season last year (and a brutal finale), maybe it's time to move on-and-over. Maybe if “Castle” can't bounce back, it'll be time to swap my ABC laundry-folding romantic procedurals. Of course, shows die REALLY fast in that ABC Tuesday 10 p.m. slot, so I may not need to decide.

Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Red Band Society'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'State of Affairs'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Stalker'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Selfie'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: The CW's 'Jane the Virgin'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Gotham'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'Constantine'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Scorpion'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Black-ish'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: The CW's 'The Flash'
All of my 2013 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries