Will ‘New Amsterdam’ Find Success with Immortality?

March 5, 2008

Fox is relying on America’s fascination with immortality to make New Amsterdam a hit, but will the new drama be lost in the sea of reality shows.

New AmsterdamIn the ‘80s I was introduced to Conner MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and the concept of the immortal hero.  The movie spawned a 20+ year franchise that included a Highlander TV series.

(Just for the record, I’m sure other immortals in television and film existed before the ‘80s, but I’m going to claim that I’m too young to remember them as an excuse for not including them.)

A decade after Highlander hit the big screen, I started watching a show about another immortal – one who had a questionable past.  Cursed with a soul by gypsies, the vampire known as Angel (David Boreanaz) patrolled the streets of first Sunnydale, then Los Angeles helping people in an effort to make reparations for all the evil he’d done.

And now, before adding New Amsterdam to the list, I am watching two more shows with leads that cannot die – Moonlight and TorchwoodMoonlight is about another vampire that doubles as a detective while Torchwood features Dr. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a time traveler from the future who is unable to die after an adventure with The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston/David Tennant of Doctor Who).

After watching the premiere of New Amsterdam last night I think the drama has potential.  After all it has all the ingredients for a successful immortal.

Immortality Brought on My Death

Like others before him, John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) had died and lived to tell about it.  In fact in the pilot, John dies twice – once in the flashback where he received his immortality from an Indian shaman (Carla Rae Holland) and once in the opening sequence (I won’t spoil the why here).

Of course, both Angel and Nick St. John (Alex O’Laughlin) died to become vampires.  Captain Jack was brought back to life when Rose (Billie Piper) saved him from The Bad Wolf.  And Conner found out about his immortality after being mortally wounded in battle.

A Quest

John’s quest is unlike like other immortals, but it’s a quest nonetheless.  Angel seeks to redeem himself.  Nick is search for a cure.  Conner battled for The Prize and Jack is trying to save Earth.  But John’s quest is more personal.  He’s looking for love, not any love, but his one true love.  When he finds it, he can finally grow old.

A Hero complex

With immortality comes responsibility.  Conner fights evil immortals.  Jack protects the earth from aliens.  Angel and Nick are both private detectives.  And John partners with fellow cop Eva Marquez (Zuleikha Robinson) to fight crime, although he hasn’t always worked a cop.

Wear a Long Coat

The long coat must be part of the hero fashion statement, because all the immortals are wearing one, each for their own purpose.  Jack’s dates back to his World War I days.  Conner used it to hide his sword.  The long coat looks really cool flapping in the breeze like wings when Angel and Nick leap from tall buildings.  I’m not sure what John’s purpose for his coat is yet (a throwback from his past?), but I’m willing to stick around to find out.

Loners with a Confidant

Since immortals can outlive everyone they know, it’s no surprise that they are all loners.  But that doesn’t mean they are totally alone – they have confidants.  Jack has his Torchwood staff.  Nick has fellow vamp Josef (Jason Dohring).  Angel had Doyle (Glenn Quinn) and then Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter).  Conner had Juan Sanchz Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery).

John has Omar (Stephen Henderson).  We met the 65-year-old jazz club owner in the pilot.  He was in trouble with some bookies and John helps him out.  He returns the favor by keeping John’s secrets.  But maybe that’s not the only reason.  According to TV Guide, Omar is John’s son (one of many children his fathered over the years).

Achilles’ Heel

Immortality does come without some downsides.  Each of these immortals has a mortal weakness – something that can kill them immediately.  Conner must be beheaded to die.  Beheading, fire, sunlight and stakes are all lethal to Angel, while beheading, fire and extreme sunlight are the only things that can put an end to Nick’s life.  I don’t want to give away Jack’s secret, I’ll just say tune into Doctor Who’s third season.

But what can kill John?  Ironically, it’s the same thing that he searches for – true love.  Once his soul is wed to that of his one true love, he can grow old and die.

Women

Some might argue that women in and of themselves are man’s Achilles’ heel.  I’ll save that debate for another day.  But I did notice that all the immortals have their fair share of women around.

Conner had Heather (Beatie Edney).  Nick has Beth (Sophia Myles), the girl he loves, and Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), the wife that turned him.  Angel has a couple ladies on his list – his sire Darla (Julie Benz), his true love Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) and Cordelia.  The unconventional Jack has a slew of people – both men and women – that he shares chemistry with including Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd), Gwen (Eve Myles) and Captain John Hart (James Marsters).

Who keeps John company?  Over the years he’s had several wives, but as he told us in the pilot only one at a time.  Currently, in addition to his partner Eve, John has crossed paths with Dr. Sara Dillane (Alexie Gilmore).  Is she is one true love?  Only time will tell.

Living under the Radar

In order to avoid someone noticing that they are living forever, immortals must fly under the radar.  Angel lives in the shadows.  Nick pretends that he’s his own son.  And Conner moved around.  I have no idea how Jack has remained undetected.

John changes names and careers.  In the pilot, we heard at least two other names he used, one being Charlie and the other the name of an artist he once was.  The constant mystery of the person that he was should provide an intriguing backdrop for the show.  And the random why he throws out tidbits – that he knows no one will believe – suggesting his real age adds a touch of humor to the show.

Flashbacks in History

The great thing about living for hundreds of years is the unfolding history.  And a good show about immortals explores that history through flashbacks (or in Jack’s case flash forwards since he’s from the future).

New Amsterdam promises to follow in the footsteps of other shows about immortals giving us glimpses into John’s past lives.  In the pilot, we saw how John became immortal as a Dutch soldier in 1642.  The flashbacks are possibly the part I’m looking forward to the most.  I like the idea of peeking into someone’s past to learn more about them and I enjoy historical stories, so bring on the flashbacks.

Overall, I think that Fox has the makings of a hit on their hands.  But I’m worried that New Amsterdam will be lost among the reality show swamp the network has become.  So far the network is not doing the show any favors by moving the show around its schedule – it premiered on a Tuesday night, the next episode is on Thursday, followed by an episode on Monday.

If Fox can secure a decent place in the schedule for the show, New Amsterdam might live a long life – even if it’s not immortal.


‘Buffy’s’ Giles Gets His Own Movie

July 31, 2007

Good news for all you Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans out there.  A made-for-TV movie is headed to BBC about our favorite watcher — Rupert “The Ripper” Giles. 

GilesJoss Whedon announced at Comic Com that he is closing  a deal with BBC to make “Ripper,” a 90-minute television movie about Giles in his pre-Buffy days.

It was always alluded to in the Buffy series that Giles had a sordid past.  We know he was quite a hellion in his younger years.  Known then as The Ripper, Giles dabbled in black magic and ran around with the less than desirable crowd than included the troublesome Ethan Rayne among others.

Although Joss didn’t reveal the plot of the BBC special, I bet we can expect to see Giles in his prime as the Ripper.  Maybe the plot will cover his transition from bad boy to watcher.  Who knows?  What’s important is that we are getting a movie from the Buffy-verse.

Joss confirmed that Anthony Stewart Head is on board to reprise his role as Giles.  I’m assuming since this special is suppose to be about Giles’ life before he became Buffy’s watcher that we won’t be seeing any members of the Scooby Gang.  But that doesn’t rule out an appearance of Robin Sachs as Rayne.

Also there’s no word yet on when this new movie will air and if it will make an appearance on BBC America.  Still, I can’t wait.  I’m very excited just to know that this prequel to Buffy in the works.


‘Buffy’ Hitting the Big Screen as a Musical

July 20, 2007

Avid fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will remember the musical episode “Once Again, With Feeling.”  Well now, you can experience the episode again, a la Rocky Horror Picture Show, on the big screen as The Buffy Musical tours independent theaters around the country.

Buffy MusicalJosh Whedon took a big risk that paid off with a powerful show when he turned the seventh episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s sixth season into a musical.  In this episode, Sweet (Hinton Battle), a tap-dancing demon, arrives in town making the people of Sunnydale burst into song and dance to express their inner most thoughts.  But when the excess singing and dancing starts causing residents to burst into flames, Buffy and the Scooby Gang must stop Sweet.  (Can’t quite remember this episode?  You can watch clips of the show on YouTube.)

Now here’s your chance to not only relive this episode —  in the theater — but to interact with it.  The Buffy Musical shows the “Once Again, With Feeling” episode on the big screen and invites the audience to participate.  To encourage interaction, participants are given a bag of props to use during the show.  Instead of toast and newspapers (think Rocky Horror Picture Show), movie goers get vampire teeth and finger puppets to go along with the booing of the vamps and cheering for our heroes.  And to encourage singing, the words to the songs are show on screen. 

Buffy SingsBefore the show starts, fans can join in even more Buffy fun that includes trivia, karaoke and impersonations.  To find a show near you, visit the official Buffy the Musical website.  From what I understand, the shows are selling out so get your tickets early.

If you want to brush up on the lyrics before you attend, you can find them here.  You can also purchase the soundtrack or an official “Once Again, With Feeling” script book, complete with lyrics and sheet music.  And for you die hard fans, take this quiz to find out which Buffy character you are most like.

I think this show would be great to see — the Buffy generation’s answer to Rocky Horror — but alas, there isn’t one coming to the Richmond, Virginia area.  So I encourage all you other Richmonders to email the tour and request for them to add us as a stop.

Those of you that get a chance to see the show, please come back and tell us how it goes.


My Top 15 Cult Shows

July 3, 2007

On Friday, TVguide.com released an updated list of its Top 30 Cult Shows ever.  In honor of the list, I’ve compiled my own Top 15 cult shows — these are the top cult shows that I’ve personally flipped out for.

I didn’t feel like I could include LostHeroes or Bones on this list because they seemed too mainstream for me. 

Here’s my Top 15 list:

15. Star Trek — I grew up on the original series.  Scotty was always my favorite character.  I’ve seen all the subsequent series and all the movies. 

14.  Torchwood — Who doesn’t love Captain Jack Harkness?  I was so happy when they gave him his own series.

13.  Doctor Who — I don’t remember the older versions of this franchise, but the latest rendition is absolutely great.

12.  Psych — Dule Hill and James Roday keep me in stitches with their fake psychic business and buddy friendship.

11.  Monk — The escapades of USA’s favorite obsessive-compulsive detective are enough to make anyone feel normal by comparison.

10. Quantum Leap — I had a little crush on Scott Bakula and wouldn’t miss an episode of his time traveling adventures.

9.  Friday Night Lights — You don’t have to love football to fall for the witty dialogue and great stories in this drama.

8.  How I Met Your Mother — One word.  Barney.  He makes this show.

7.  Eureka — You’ve just got to love this quirky little town of the brightest minds.

6.  Battlestar Galactica — I barely remember the original, but the current version has me on the edge of my seat.

5.  X-Files — My husband introduced this series to me when we were dating.  We spent many Friday nights during our courtship curled up on the couch watch Scully and Mulder unravel a case.  For that reason, this series will always have a special place in my heart. 

4.  Firefly — Joss Whedon has me begging for more exploits of Mal and the crew of the Serenity.  A single season of this space cowboy adventure was not enough.  Thank goodness for the movie and the comics. 

3.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Joss Whedon’s original television series kept me hooked all seven seasons and further if you count the comics.   I loved to tune in each week to watch Buffy and the Scooby Gang save the world.

2.  Angel — David Boreanaz is very easy on the eyes.  I loved to watch the brooding vampire with a soul team up with Cordelia, Wes, Gunn and others to save the innocent.  I even have the puppet Angel from “Smile Time.”

1.  Supernatural — Currently my favorite show, I love to watch the good-looking brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padelecki) battle urban legends and things that go bump in the night while driving the beautiful 1967 black Chevy Impala. 

So now it’s your turn.  What’s on your list?