I am heartbroken once again.
Yes, in a pattern that repeats itself over and over when I fall headlong in love with a TV series, and not enough other people do, another TV I had come to really, really love, in contravention of all expectations (I thought I was done with the often banal nature of shows of this genre), has drawn its last breath.
The show in question is, of course, Forever, the black sheep of the police procedural family – it centred on the chief medical examiner in New York City, Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffud) who because of a quirk of fate was immortal – because of its willingness to add a supernatural element to proceedings, was cancelled by ABC, the only freshman drama on the Disney-owned network to feel the cold chill of rejection.
Ironic isn’t it given the title.
Star Ioan Gruffudd, obviously shaken, was, like those viewers who embraced the idiosyncratic show, had only thanks for those who had hung in there to watch Forever:
“Tonight, as you all now know, I received a phone call that I was hoping not to receive, and to be honest I really wasn’t expecting it. I knew the numbers hadn’t been great, but I also knew the studio and the network both loved the show, and of course that it had an incredible fan base…so I thought we were in with a pretty good chance.
“Watching the interaction of the FOREVER fans come together and share their love for the show has been breath-taking. It was you guys who held me up when I thought I could no longer go on. (Those days were LONG!) You made me smile when you pointed out the little things I did on screen that I thought had gone unnoticed. You gave me confidence when I accidentally found myself reading less than shining reviews. You were always with me, every step of the way, waving your flags, shouting your support for the show. It’s been an incredible, wonderful year, one that I will never, ever forget.
“And guess what? The memories belong to us. We get to keep them ‘forever!’ Thanks again a million times for your unwavering support. Stay strong, be brave, and show kindness as often as you can!
(you can read the full text at Deadline)
So in honour of a show that offered far more than a simple humdrum case of the week to be solved inbetween ad breaks, here are the 5 things I loved about a show I really wished could have gone on Forever … or at least for a few more seasons than it did.
1. The relationships
In a show where the lead character is 250 years old and guaranteed to outlive all those near and dear and close to him including his adopted son Abe (Judd Hersch) who he saved along with his deceased wife Abigail (MacKenzie Mauzy) from a concentration camp at the end of WW2, and his police partner of sorts (and potential love interest) Detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza), there’s is going to be a poignancy to all of Henry’s interactions.
Inclined to keep people at arm’s length, Henry could only truly be himself with his son, who looks about 30 years older than him in the show, the only person who need the big secret of his immortality.
But even with that dynamic in play, there was a richness, and even a mischievous element, to his relationships with Abe and Jo (who was only let into the secret in the final episode, off camera), the police commanding officer Lt. Joanna Reese (Lorraine Toussaint) and his sidekick in the Medical Examiner’s office, Lucas (Joel David Moore) that gave the show far more emotional heft than it might otherwise have had.
2. The flashbacks
250 years in a long time full of many life lessons, regrets and fond memories, and each episode came packed with flashbacks to a part of Henry’s life that either gave him insights into the case at hand, or more importantly, spoke to the inner turmoil of a man condemned to live while others die, culture changes and the world re-invents itself over and over.
The flashbacks were never clunky or overstayed their welcome and augmented the plot at hand perfectly in a way that many other shows could learn from.
3. An overarching conspiracy
What show worth its salt doesn’t have a wider conspiracy at play underneath the week-to-week shenanigans.
Well, most, if not all police procedurals usually.
Forever was different with Henry being variously taunted, helped and yes even killed – only ever temporarily; he would always awake seconds later, naked, in water, often in embarrassingly-exposed conditions – by a fellow immortal Adam aka Lewis Farber (Burn Gorman), a man who it emerged right at the end had died in 44BC right when Julius Caesar had breathed his last, 23 knife wounds puncturing his body.
It was never really confirmed if he was the other big J.C. of history, especially after Henry incapacitated him in the final episode, but he was a worthy adversary, desperate to find a way to actually die, and triggered many of Henry’s epiphanies, all of which made him a better man.
4. The Immortality
It certainly gave Henry an edge.
He could be killed by serial killers, almost killed by suspects and place himself in mortal danger to find a elucidate a clue or find some important evidence, and as long as no one saw him die, he could simply pop after he’d resurrected and solve, or at least, advance the case.
Sure it was a gimmick but a well-used gimmick that added to the richness and complexity of Henry’s character and have the show that extra layer of substance and intrigue.
5.Clever cases of the week
These are the bread and butter of police procedurals and could have easily been the same old thing week after week but Forever, under the stewardship of creator Matt Miller did a mighty fine job of adding a suitable number of twists and turns and ensuring that no two cases were ever the same.
Some cases, in fact many, linked back in some way to Henry and Abe, including one in which they finally discovered what had happened to Abigail, who’d left Henry in her ’70s to start a new life, unable to deal with the great immoral/mortal divide that both bonded and separated them in equal measure.
It may not have had quite the revolutionary police procedural renewal power of Grimm, but it came close, giving us the comfort of justice served but with a tantalising reminder that life is never really that clean and tidy.
It had intelligence, freshness, wit and real human insight, a remarkably different take on a genre not known for taking chances of any kind.