This review contains spoilers.
1.7 New York Kids
I’m not sure why, but privileged young adults seem to be the staple diet of murder mysteries. Probably the source of this connection is the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope (1948), inspired by a real-life murder committed by University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.In that instance two rich kids kidnapped and murdered a teenager to prove their superiority, by committing the perfect crime.
And, this is the undercurrent that Forever works with in New York Kids, where the obvious audience reaction is designed to dislike the privileged, and ignore the many clues that suggest they’re not actually the murderers in this case.
But in many respects, the whole exercise is a smokescreen for some subtle character development, mostly focused on Henry and Jo. They also managed to squeeze in some revealing scenes with Abe, Joanne and even Lucas. Of these the one I most liked was that with Abe, where the man comes to the shop and Abe is for past sins compelled to give him more money than his junk is worth. Judd Hirsch is wonderful, and all the parts with his character are the most charming that this show can manage.
The central core of this show is the relationship between Henry and Jo, who at times this week started to resemble an old married couple. He storms around crime scenes like a firmly stuck pinball while she gazes in disbelief at his performance waiting to make the odd snide comment.
An often repeated cycle is that they come across a place or thing, and Henry displays some expertise in that and declares that he was once a doctor, grave digger, or what have you. Jo isn’t stupid, so how long is it going to take to conclude that he’s had more experience and occupations than you could feasibly fit into fifty years? She’s quite smart, and a detective, so that penny should have dropped by now, surely.
Henry’s now come close three times to dying in sight of Jo, surely they can’t keep that happening and make it plausible?
As for this story, at best it was inconsistent. Some scenes were great and others marginally confusing. The flashback set in the fifties when Henry gave up being a doctor didn’t really explain why very well. Because realistically, how many times did he think it was likely that he’d be trying to save someone’s life and be mortally wounded himself? That even in fifties America seems very unlikely, unless you were a battlefield medic, and he’s already gone through all that by this stage.
The final part of that montage also split up some marvellous acting work by Judd Hirsch, unfortunately, who sells a story of past regrets like few others can.
The science in this one also seemed a stretch at times, especially the idea that they could positively identify the DNA of the rich kids from the grave of a body with no flesh left on it. Getting the victim’s DNA would be fine, but I don’t buy the notion that you could get the DNA of those who buried him after nine years underground.
In the end New York Kids doesn’t really break any rules of detective TV etiquette. You’re presented with the real killer reasonably early on, as a seeming peripheral character, only for facts to reveal his more central role. All the very obvious killers aren’t the murderer, but we’re given a pass for disliking them for historical misdeeds.
It was all rather safe and placid, and probably not where the show needed to be when it goes on hiatus with low viewing figures. Three more scripts have been commissioned, and those writing them need to let the show get a little crazy, because it needs to grab what audience it has and compel them to watch. It’s probably time for other people to realise Henry’s curse, because there isn’t any point keeping that back for stories we’ll never seen.
In the meanwhile I’ve noticed that Lorraine Toussaint (Lieutenant Joanne Reece) has been talking up her ‘Vee’ role in the third season of Orange Is The New Black, which says plenty about where she thinks this show is heading…
If Forever does return, I’ll be here to review those adventures here.
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