By the end of tonight’s third episode of the first season of a show that will probably go on for eternity, the 79-year old Judd Hirsch was dropping clichés as if he was featured on a Drake track circa 2011.
“Live every day, every hour, like it’s your last.”
Heck, “YOLO,” playas.
Hirsch’s character in ABC’s Forever is a regular senior citizen in most ways, greying hair, a step slower than he used to be, a lovable curmudgeon who was quick to pick up the online dating game even at his tender old age. What sets Hirsch and his character Abe apart from the show’s protagonist—and resident immortal—is his vitality. At the end of a long, storied career it’s Hirsch that pumps life into a familiar show that still has a good chance to become something pretty entertaining.
In “Fountain of Youth,” it’s Abe that gives Henry the necessary wake-up call. We know Henry can’t age, or die, but he makes immortality to out to be more like a puzzle than a blessing or a curse. Sometimes when he dies–whether he’s jumping off bridges or tackling lunatics off buildings–he stays dead for a little longer, maybe just by a few more seconds. He has no clue as to why and that really bothers him. His mortality is the one mystery that alludes him when he seems to have an answer for everything else in this life.
After 200 years, Henry wants to age. He’s lived for two centuries and God forbid he doesn’t look a day over 35. That’s why we need Abe to knock Henry down a peg. If I lived with these boyish good looks of my twenties for the next 50 years I’d be the luckiest man on the planet. This guy gets 200 years of being handsome and all of a sudden he’s fed up with it?
The entire episode plays with the idea of the lengths people take to look and feel young. While Abe mines the web for dates, Henry is off investigating an anti-aging clinic with Detective Martinez, and more important than the actual case itself–which centers on a drink called “Aterna” that a promises more vitality–they’re building a strong work relationship.
The issue with Forever right now is it’s almost forced to use New York’s crimes as a basis for stories when there is much more interesting fodder elsewhere. “Fountain of Youth” had a lackluster plot even by network procedural drama standards, and Forever shied away from expanding the arc that can take this show to the next level. It showed us a pulse in its final moments of episode two when the unknown caller tells Henry has he too is immortal. Call him Adam, the voice said, because he’s been around since the days of Eve. Now that’s interesting. Adam’s must have seen some cool stuff. Maybe there’s a whole legion of these immortals?
I understand wanting to not tip your hand so early, but if we’re going to throw around things like immortality, let’s investigate the supernatural and move beyond boring run of the mill procedural work. Even the flashback to 1906, which ponders the future of medicine and how the desire to stay youthful in the present, has more life to it.
Forever does have the makings of show that’s built to last. Look around TV see what else is getting five or six seasons of mediocrity. I thought Abe put it best when he was telling Henry what he’d do if he was immortal.
“Everything,” he said.
He’s right. This show’s world is wide open and if you break out of the familiar, some aspects of Forever could really blossom.