Warning: Spoiler Alerts
Since “Not Just Another TV Site,” started publishing, we’ve had the pleasure of recapping some tremendous shows and incredible events. We recapped, the final season of what I believe will be celebrated in the future as one the finest examples of “short-form Television,” when the HBO Original Series “The Newsroom,” completed it’s run. We recapped the bounce-back season for the Showtime series “Homeland,” as the show recovered from sticking with the Brody story-arc, a season too long. We witnessed our readers get caught up in the murder of a 12-year-old boy, in a Northern California, fishing village in “Gracepoint.”
What may come to a surprise to many of you, is the recap that’s received more hits than any other, by a very wide margin. It’s acquired 40% more readers than the runner-up, yet according to the Nielsen Ratings, the show has no business being our most widely read recap. We entitled the recap, “Forever: Sax Player’s Song Costs Son His Life,” however the title it aired under, was 6AM. The Forever episode about Jazz sax player Pepper Evans and the song stolen from him, still receives double-digit hits daily, more than two-months after it aired.
I’ve made no attempts to hide the fact that I’m an unabashed fan and proponent of the freshman ABC series “Forever,” since seeing the show’s pilot online, before the start of the 2014-2015 TV season started. There have been many new shows, that I’ve turned off after ten-minutes, never regretting the decision. Every so often, a show crosses my path, that shows me it’s got long-term potential, some fulfill their potential, while others fall short of the mark.
There have been very few times in my almost six-decades on this rock, that I’ve walked away from a pilot episode, thinking I love this show, Forever slipped quite comfortably into that category. It’s the first show that I’ve felt that way about since the debut of the now departed “The Newsroom.” I walked away from my laptop, telling anybody and everybody about this new gem of a series on ABC and after thirteen episodes, my affection for the show’s only grown stronger.
What’s the premise of the show you ask? Well let’s hear from the protagonist of the series, Dr. Henry Morgan: “My name is Henry Morgan. My story is a long one. It might sound a bit implausible. In fact you probably won’t believe me. But I’ll tell you anyway, because beyond all else, I have lots and lots of time.”
We soon find out that Morgan, born in the final quarter of the 18th Century, got shot to death, trying to defend a slave on the ship he was the doctor of. However after his corpse, got dumped into the sea by the crew, Henry regenerated, coming back as healthy as before he got shot, but unfortunately stark naked, which causes problems from time-to time. Morgan’s gotten killed scores of times since the incident on the ship and every time, he bounces right back.
The show’s based in the present, as Morgan’s now a Medical Examiner for the NYPD, a brilliant man who keeps to himself. His assistant Lucas Wahl, idolizes him but he can’t even get his boss to compliment him, wanting Henry as a friend far exceeds his wildest dreams. Morgan’s become a Medical Examiner for many reasons, one being the study of death, in hopes that he can find a way to end his life.
The other reason’s more compelling for the viewers, Morgan’s become a Medical Examiner, to minimize his contact with living people. The man’s lived over 200-years and surely lost many near and dear to him over the years and he doesn’t want the pain again. However we find out that Morgan lives with a companion, a man in his seventies named Abe, portrayed by Judd Hirsch, in his finest performance since starring in “Taxi.” In fact Hirsch and the premise of the show, were what drew me into watching initially.
The only performance of the series lead Ioan Gruffudd’s, I’d witnessed, was as Reed Richard in Fantastic Four, a movie and a role that was underwhelming, to say the least. (Though he had a great American accent, I had no idea he was from the UK.) That barrier melted about ninety seconds into the pilot, as Henry Morgan’s a man of many complexities.
Henry meets two NYPD detectives in the pilot, that he’s destined to spend a lot of time with as Detective Jo Martinez and her partner Detective Mike Hanson check with Morgan about the autopsy of the subway operator, that allegedly died at the controls causing a major crash. If he had a heart-attack, it’s ruled an accidental death, if influenced by alcohol or drugs, it’s murder. Henry tells Martinez that the operator died of poisoning.
If you’d like to read the entire recap, you can find it elsewhere on our site, however we do learn that Henry had a great love in the fifties, as we meet his young and beautiful wife Abigail and the feelings between them are palpable. However we’ve no idea of the fate of Abigail in the current time period, or what became of their great love.
Morgan helps Martinez capture the man who poisoned the subway operator and Jo asks him to accompany her on her next case as Medical Examiner and a friendship starts to flourish. However there was a scene that aired shortly before Martinez arrived at the shop, that elevated this show from good to great for me.
We get one final flashback; the year’s 1945 and Henry’s in Germany in a Red Cross jeep, as the war’s ending in Deutschland. A beautiful young blonde English woman asks Henry if he’s a doctor and we realize that this is the first time Morgan and Abigail met. He replies that he’s a doctor, and she presents him with an infant boy, imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, but except for the number tattooed on the baby’s arm, he’s in perfect health. We return to the present as Abe’s sitting in his shop and we see the same number tattooed on the old man’s arm, meaning Henry and Abigail raised him as their son. Henry kisses the old man on the top of his head and I was hooked-line-and-sinker.
Much of my day’s spent surfing the web, checking out fan sites on the shows we recap, to gauge the feelings of the fans. I also frequent the Facebook pages of the shows we recap and I’ve found, that I far prefer the fan-run pages, over those that the networks create. A fan who starts a Facebook page about a favorite show or personality, pursues a labor of love. Perhaps their efforts will get rewarded by a message from one of the show-runners or an actor, but they put the work into these pages, because it gives them a forum to gather and discuss aspects of a show they enjoy.
I had the good fortune to discover and get accepted to a Facebook forum, called the “Forever (ABC) Fan Page,” about a week ago and the page and it’s members are fantastic. The Page has about five Administrators, ranging across the United States and one from Scotland. Each member who joins the page, gets welcomed by the page and at least a few of the other members. The tone of the page’s inclusive and friendly, I’ve yet to see any negative feedback, or sniping between members, something that’s usually a given in these forums. These folks do such a great job, they recently got Forever creator Matt Miller to join their ranks. (Which speaks well for Miller also, as he’s interested in what the fans have to say about the show he created and birthed.)
Sometime last week, one of the page’s Administrators Tonya Lindsey, approached me to write an article about the letter campaign, started by two other huge fans of the show, who also host Facebook pages for Forever, Lin Blank and Deb Servey, with hopes that they can convince ABC to renew Forever for a second season, a move that should have happened already in this writer’s opinion. I decided to ask for input from the Page members, about why the show should receive a second season and the results were overwhelming. People from across the country, explaining why this show has become an important part of their week.
Certain topics seem mainstays of most of the comments, the quality, of the acting, writing, directing and production are almost universally praised, as are the characters themselves who’ve become people that the fans want to spend time with, every week. The contrast between what’s occurring in Morgan’s present, against the backdrop of what he’s experienced being on earth for over 200-years. They love the relationship between Henry and Abraham and the burgeoning friendship between the Medical Examiner and Detective Martinez. There’s also huge interest in finding out more of Morgan’s stalker, the man who identified himself as Adam and claims to have walked the earth for two-thousand-years who’ll return in the next episode, airing February 3.
Forever’s able to combine so many facets into 54 minutes each week; An Epic Tale of a man whose experienced over 200-years of evolution, tales of great love between men and women plus parents and children. Henry wasn’t born with the Holmes-like powers of observation he has, however he’s bright enough to realize by being observant, the same clues can help him down the line. Incorporating the flashbacks, is one of the aspects of the show I enjoy the most, whether it’s young Abraham leaning how to “Jazz-Up Chopin” or Henry getting water-boarded (Hydro-Therapy) in 1815. My initial fear was that show would rely too much on Henry getting killed and regenerating, but so far they’ve used it in a limited basis, which keeps the concept fresh when they utilize it.
The bond between Henry and Abe, which has somewhat reversed over 60-years, with the father becoming the son and vice-versa. And Morgan opening himself up to having friends in the present, with Lucas, Jo, Mike and Lt. Reece. If that’s not enough, we have a “BIG BAD” whose lived ten times longer than Henry. No wonder he’s jaded and bored, the thrill of feeling special when he impresses others that Morgan still receives, must have left him centuries ago. The show-runners have announced we’re going to see “Adam’s flashbacks” and he’s going to attempt to endear himself to Henry and become a mentor of sorts!
There are more than enough shows that cater to the Lowest Common Denominator, the Prime-Time schedule works out to 21-hours each week, on the three original broadcast networks and what few outstanding shows on the small-screen, usually end up competing against each other. Forever’s a perfect example as it takes on Person Of Interest on CBS, another one of the mediums finest shows and a perennial top-20-show. I happen to count both shows among my favorites.
ABC doesn’t have a strong record supporting “High-Concept Shows,” with “Flash Forward,” “No Ordinary Family” and the reboot of the series “V,” leaving the shows fans with major unresolved conflicts. The networks have to possess the intelligence, that situations like those, will make viewers more reluctant to try new shows, afraid of being left in the lurch once again.
My Friends Della and Troy, who host a weekly podcast called Forever Fan Podcast, sent me some documents last week, from Thomas Richard who runs a site named Television Town, stating that while Forever’s scoring higher ratings, than previous shows that filled that time-slot for the network, the numbers haven’t convinced ABC, that the show deserves to get renewed. However, he does believe a strong outcry from the show’s fans, could get Forever a second season.
So, how can you help? Well there are a couple of things you can do; first of all you can write a letter to the network. You can reach them at ABC Entertainment C/O Forever 500 S. Buena Vista St Burbank, CA 91521-4551.
Secondly, you can sign the petition, started by Forever Page Member Abigail Bricker. In the comments section make sure you write #RENEWFOREVER.
Lastly, support the show and tell your friends, they’re missing one of the best examples of “Quality Television,” in this era.
The Story Continues Tuesday, February 3, at 10:00 pm on ABC.