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Forever: Ioan Gruffudd (ABC)

200 years is nothing: 'Forever' has just begun

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Look Before You Leap” | Aired Sept 23, 2014

This is what I was afraid of. After a strong, possibility-filled pilot, the second episode of Forever leaves something to be desired. My hope is that it is going to take a few episodes to gain its footing and that it will then settle down into something more interesting. In order for that to happen, Forever is going to need to break away from being so formulaic. Tonight’s episode, Look Before You Leap, followed the same exact template as the pilot, rendering it predictable and much less effective.

The basic outline goes something like this: Detective Martinez and her crew discover a dead body. They make assumptions that Dr. Morgan, the medical examiner, disagrees with. While investigating, Dr. Morgan jumps to ridiculous (but always correct) conclusions based on his sixth-sense-based observations. At some point, Dr. Morgan “dies.” Eventually he is able to solve the case and prove he’s been right all along. Throw in a few phone calls/letters from this unknown man who knows his secret, and the threat of one of his “deaths” (and subsequent disappearances) being caught on camera, and you’ve got the whole hour. They even repeated the poignant camera work of fading from baby Abe’s number tattoo to the same tattoo on grown-up Abe’s arm—only this time, it no longer had the significance of the big reveal (and it makes the audience feel like they can’t be trusted to remember important plot details).

The episode, however, did have some upsides: The cast continues to do a lot with what they are given. Alana De La Garza, in particular, really shines as Detective Martinez, mastering the balance of police professionalism and personal vulnerability. This week also gave us the much-anticipated  introduction of Lorraine Toussaint’s Lieutenant Reece. So far, Reece’s only purpose seems to be pushing Martinez away from following Morgan’s lead, but after the magnificent run Toussaint just had on Orange Is the New Black, I choose to remain optimistic about how she will be used going forward.

Look Before You Leap began with a Without a Trace–style opening sequence. A woman in the backseat of a cab frantically calls someone on her cell phone, trying to figure out where he is. She is downright hysterical when she demands that her cab driver stop the car in the middle of the 59th Street Bridge. The last we see of her, she jumps over the railing. When her body arrives in Dr. Morgan’s office, we (along with detectives Martinez and Hanson) assume it was a suicide. Dr. Morgan believes otherwise. He points out that the scientific evidence he’s collected that suggest she was pushed, including layers of paint under her fingernails and the angle at which she hit the water. Though skeptical, Martinez leans toward believing him based on his track record of perfection. Lieutenant Reece, on the other hand, sees this as an open-and-shut suicide with dozens of witnesses, and would much rather see Martinez use Henry to solve a case that’s actually been ruled a homicide.

Ignoring her boss, Martinez takes Morgan to visit the dorm room of the deceased woman, Vicki Hulquist, as well as the Classics department at the university, where she spent much of her time. Using his super observation powers, Henry deduces that she had been having an affair with her professor, James Browning. Henry is able to swipe a pen with the professor’s DNA (he’d been chewing on it) in order to compare it to skin samples found under the victim’s fingernails; they’re a match. At Browning’s house, it takes Henry about two minutes to pick apart the alibi that he had provided, forcing his wife to admit that she’d been at the opera by herself; however, when they bring Browning in, Dr. Morgan believes his story that he loved Vicki and would never have hurt her. It’s too late, though. The DNA evidence is damning, and now this innocent man is going to jail because of an investigation that Henry put in motion. Henry commits himself to proving the professor didn’t do it, but before he can make his case, Browning is found dead from another apparent suicide.

Once again, the NYPD find the body and presume to know what happened, only to be told by Dr. Morgan that they are wrong. (The way Ioan Gruffudd looks into the camera and says “This man was murdered” made me feel like I was watching Clue.) This time, the proof is in the way the wrists have been slit. Here, the cut was made from inside to outside; self-inflicted wounds go the opposite way. As Martinez and Hanson review surveillance footage for possible explanations, Henry sneaks off to find one of the professor’s other students (we’ll call him “John,” as I’m pretty sure they never actually gave him a name). Henry concludes that the motivation for the girl’s murder was John’s jealousy over a publication being authored by Browning and Vicki.

“John’s” plan was pretty brilliant. Knowing she would come running, John called Vicki and told her he was about to jump off the bridge. When we saw her “jump,” she was actually climbing over to try to save John, who returned her kindness by throwing her to her death. He had it all figured out, relying on the fact that her death would be ruled a suicide. But when Browning ended up being arrested for the crime, John had to do something, or the attorneys would find evidence to disprove the police theory, likely uncovering John as the real culprit in the process. His only option was to kill his professor and make it look like another suicide. Everyone would assume that the suicide proved Browning’s guilt in Vicki’s murder and the case would be closed.

Unfortunately for him, Dr. Henry Morgan is the medical examiner assigned to Vicki’s case, and he pieces it all together. In response to being confronted, John grabs Henry and threatens him at knifepoint. Henry is obviously not afraid of dying, but he is terrified that there will be video footage of him being murdered, which will make it difficult to explain how he’s still very much alive. (Which brings up the question of how it’s possible, in 2014, to have died so visibly—falling off a building, getting hit by a car on a bridge—without anyone recording it on a smartphone.) Lucky for Henry, John plans only to use him as a hostage long enough to get out of the building. Jo spots them on the security-camera feed, and Martinez and Hanson are able to intercept them. John tells them he will kill Henry if they don’t drop their weapons. Henry, not fearing for his life, suggests that Hanson shoot him in the shoulder, which will force John to drop the knife. Hanson doesn’t want to do this and ultimately Martinez shoots at John, who releases Henry with only a scratch on his neck. But between Henry going after John on his own and demanding that Hanson shoot him, Hanson is now officially convinced that Henry is out of his mind.

While Henry helps the police solve Vicki’s murder, he continues to receive phone calls from a mystery man who knows his secret. The man also knows intimate details about Henry’s past, which he makes clear when he sends a note written on stationery from a hotel where Henry and Abigail shared a pivotal moment in their relationship. Turns out this dude’s been doing research on Henry, trying to figure out why he still cares about anything. What he realizes is that Henry is still a baby: Two hundred years is nothing. It’s easy to have faith and optimism when your definition of eternity is still so small. The dread that washes over Henry as he learns that this man has been alive for 2,000 years is palpable. Henry has always held onto the belief that the key to ending his no-death sentence was within his reach. What this man reveals is Henry’s worst nightmare.

Final Thoughts

  • Going up on the roof to fix a satellite dish (that isn’t broken!), falling, and then being impaled by an ax as it falls down after you has got to be one of the most inventive and horrifying ways of dying I’ve ever seen.
  • It’s a good thing Henry always dies so quickly. What would have happened if he’d been critically injured when he got hit by the car, but managed to stay alive long enough to make it to the hospital? He always seems to disappear at exactly the right time.
  • I loved learning that Henry doesn’t like to talk to the families of the people he examines because witnessing their loss is too painful. That’s the kind of character development I want to see more.
  • I’m interested in finding out more about how Henry manages to keep his secret. Immortality isn’t necessarily so difficult to keep under wraps, but never aging is trickier, and Abe is the only one who knows about it. Henry must move a lot.

Forever, rated TV-PG, airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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