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.


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?


Cable Shows Offer Interesting Summer TV Fare

June 1, 2007

A friend of mine recently complained that now that all the season finales were over, his Tivo was empty.  What was he going to do for the next three months?  I told him to look to his nearest cable network for some pretty cool shows to fill his summer void. 

While network television will inundate you this summer with reruns (with a few exceptions) and more cheaply produced reality shows, cable stations are answering viewers demand for better choices with summer fare that rival some prime season offerings.  So after a day of frolicking in the great outdoors enjoying the summer sun, cool off with these summer shows.

Most of my favorite summer selections won’t start until July; therefore, I’m going to by trying out some new choices in June.  Here are my suggestions for your summer line up. (Note: show times are for EST.)

Showing Now

Traveler — Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC
I said there were a few exceptions to the networks filling the summer void with reruns, here’s one of them.  I’ve seen the first two episodes of this quick-paced drama and am hooked.  Three graduate students decided to go on a cross-country trip before entering the work world.  But in their first stop, a harmless prank turns into an act of terrorism leaving two friends  as the prime suspects and the third friend — Will Turner (Aaron Stanford) — missing.  Jay (Matthew Bomer) and Tyler (Logan Marshall-Green) are on the run looking for Will and answers.  Who is Will Turner really? Is he behind the bombing?  Did he set up his friends?  Or is Will a pawn in a bigger plot?  Tune in to find out.  If you missed the first two episodes, you can catch them online at www.abc.com.

Hidden Palms — Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW
What better time for a guilty pleasure than the summer?  And although this drama is filled with teen angst, it’s got enough adult soap to make it interesting.  If you are looking for a serious mind-provoking drama, you won’t find it here.  But you will find some fun with a lot of pretty faces.  Kevin Williamson’s latest creation might look a lot like The O.C. (including a few alums), but it’s definitely got Dawson’s Creek dialogue with a little Desperate Housewives mystery mixed in.  Fresh out of rehab Johnny, played by Taylor Handley (Oliver on The O.C.), moves to Palm Springs with his mother and new step-father a year after witnessing his father’s suicide.  But his new friends Cliff (Michael Cassidy, Zach from The O.C.), Greta (Amber Heard), Nikki (Tessa Thompson) and Liza (Ellary Porterfield) have some baggage of their own including how Greta’s last boyfriend (the former resident of Johnny’s room) died.  I was especially excited to see NYPD alums Gail O’Grady and Sharon Lawrence.  O’Grady is Johnny’s uptight mom trying to deal with a son who blames her for his father’s suicide.  On the other hand, Lawrence is a self-absorbed southern belle and Cliff’s mother.  If you missed it, the pilot re-airs on Sunday, June 3 at 8 p.m.

Army Wives — Sundays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime
Normally I’m not a Lifetime-type girl.  Even for a sentimental fool like me, their stuff is too sappy.  But this series has caught my eye and I plan to tune in at least for the first few episodes to see how it measures up.  From the producers of Grey’s Anatomy, Army Wives features a premier cast which includes Kim Delaney (NYPD Blue) as Claudia Joy Holden, the Colonel’s wife; Catherine Bell (Jag) on the other side of the uniform as Denise Sherwood, the wife of a Major; and Brigid Brannagh (Angel) as Pamela Moran, the outspoken wife of a member of the Delta Force.  However, I think what really drives me to try out this show is the subject.  A Navy brat myself, I’m interested in seeing how this version of Desperate Housewives on Fort Marshall plays out.  Premieres Sunday, June 3rd.

Coming Later This Summer

Rescue Me — Premieres June 13 at 10 p.m. on FX
Of course, our favorite gritty fireman survives the fire he was trapped in during last season’s cliffhanger.  But only to face new adventures this season.  First he becomes a father (again) and then he starts dating a female version of himself — a take-no-crap firefighter from another house.

Burn Notice — Premieres June 28 at 10 p.m. on USA
I loved Jeffrey Donovan in Touching Evil, so I’m willing to give his new series Burn Notice a try.  Donovan plays Michael Westen, a CIA spy who gets a “burn notice” (think CIA version of a pink slip) while on a mission.  Not sure why he was fired, Westen launches his own investigation.  But all his assets are frozen and credit cards canceled, so he heads home to Miami and takes on clients — those that can’t get help from legitimate channels — to help finance his search for answers.  Sharon Gless stars as his chain smoking, hypochondriac mother.

Doctor Who — Premieres July 6 at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi Channel
The 10th incarnation of the Doctor (David Tennant) returns for his third season with a new sidekick, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).  Don’t miss the adventures of this time traveling duo as they protect Earth and set things straight.  Ironically, Season 3 kicks off with a Christmas episode.  I hear that the Doctor and Martha will meet Shakespeare this season and battle some blood-sucking aliens.

Eureka — Premieres July 10 at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi Channel
Eureka is Sci Fi at its best — fun and quirky.  The residents of Eureka, a town that doubles as a think tank for some of the country’s greatest minds, return for a second season.  When U.S. Marshal Jack (Colin Ferguson) got stranded in Eureka on his trip to return his run-away daughter to his ex-wife (Olivia D’abo), he never imagined he’d stay on as the town sheriff, constantly saving the bright-minded citizens from themselves. 

Monk — Premieres July 13 at 9 p.m. on USA
Tony Shalhoub returns for his sixth season as our favorite obsessive-compulsive detective.  Adrian Monk’s freakouts over daily things — heights, dirt, snakes, milk, to name a few — will keep you in stitches.  Guest stars this season include Snoop Dogg as a rap star, Sarah Silverman in a repeat role as Monk groupie Marcie Maven, and Sharon Lawrence as Linda Fusco, the real estate agent with a crush on Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine).  I’m not sure I want to know who will be the guest star when Monk investigates the nudist beach.

Psych — Premieres July 13 at 10 p.m. on USA
Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) return for a second season of crime fighting as a fake psychic and his sidekick.  The son of a former cop, Shawn uses his keen eye for detail to pick up on clues the police miss and together with Gus, whose job is to keep the duo out of trouble, the pair solve a variety of crimes.  This season Shawn will have to hold his own when he competes with a real psychic and Tim Curry guest stars.

Who Wants to Be a Superhero? — Premieres July 26 at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi Channel
I’m not normally a big fan of reality shows, but I love this one.  Last season I laughed so hard I cried.  C’mon 12 adults in costumes pretending to be superheroes?  It doesn’t get any better than this!  In Season 2, the producers are stepping it up a notch.  Instead of taking place in the real world like last year, the contest will move into a fictitious world (think Gotham or Metropolis) complete with three recurring villains.  And fans of Stan Lee will love that he will take a more active role as the show host.  Tune in for a fun time.

Flash Gordon — Premieres August 10 on Sci Fi Channel
We most recently saw Flash Gordon as a guest star on Smallville and a member of the Oliver Green’s Justice League.  Now another Smallville alum (Eric Johnson) will portray Gordon in his own series.  Gina Holden (Reunion) will star as Gordon’s love interest Dale Arden and Jody Racicot will play Dr. Hans Zarkov.

I don’t have HBO or Showtime so I can’t comment on shows like Big Love or Weeds, but I hear they are good.  Needless to say though, this summer has some good options on the tube.  So if you aren’t out enjoying the summer evenings, tune in.  What will you be watching this summer?