This review contains spoilers.
1.4 The Art Of Murder
Whenever a reviewer takes on a new show there’s always uneasiness about the first few episodes. Because some shows can start well and then go rapidly downhill, while others can start badly and then go really, really wrong. If you’re wondering about those that start brilliantly, and then become a shiny star in the heavens of televisual history, then those usually aren’t covered by me.
That said, this week’s Forever pretty much justified me picking this one to cover, as it marked a very distinctive change of pace and purpose in what was becoming something horribly predictable. It begins in typical Murder She Wrote fashion, with an elderly socialite being stalked through the darkened corridors of a grand art gallery. Kathleen Chalfant (Kinsey, Perfect Stranger) plays the wonderfully irascible Gloria Carlyle, who tells everyone what she really thinks of them before meeting her unexpectedly violent death.
The added twist for this plot is that due to an error of judgement by Lucas, Henry is removed from the case early on, and historically he’d met Gloria many years before, and the gallery has special significance for him. We’ve all seen the cop show (and movie) where a cop is pulled off a case but insists on investigating it. That should have made this rather corny, but actually the way the writers work the idea it made for a slew of really great character moments. These weren’t just focused on Henry and Jo, but spread around to make Lieutenant Reece, Lucas, Abe and even Detective Hanson seem much more believable characters. They even managed to insert a couple of running gags, one about Henry never having his own phone, and the other about Abe’s nemesis antique dealers, the Berkowitz Brothers.
As such this was by far the most entertaining story so far, and hints at an entirely different show that Forever has the potential to become. There’s a lightness of touch in the writing here, credited to Chris Fedak, who previously wrote and produced the marvellously anarchistic Chuck. I just hope Chris has the time to write some more Forever stories, because his abilities were very evident here.
Without rehashing the story, the plot is a convoluted track that twists and turns in some unexpected directions. Detective work leads them back to the gallery, revealing something I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen this story yet. I’ll just say that like most of the clues gathered along the way, even the title of this episode is misleading. The narrative destination isn’t the resolution of the crime but rather the explanation not only of the significance of the gallery to Henry, but actually an alternative explanation of the show’s title.
What we’re left with is that the coldness between Henry and Jo is breaking down, now that she’s been given more information about him. The clear and present danger is that the more she gets, the greater the possibility that she’ll stumble onto the truth about him.
I do hope they don’t try to extend that secret beyond all reason, because only old shows have a secret that’s kept throughout, and it becomes a major restriction to plot and character development. Possibly the faster they can get over that hurdle the more interesting they can make this relationship, in the longer term. And, again Henry didn’t die this week, which is generally a good thing for credibility.
Unfortunately how long it can go on must be under question given the rather disturbing decline in viewers already, and I can only hope that those who caught this one will tune in next week and bolster the figures.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.