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From 'Second Chance' to 'The Frankenstein Code': What's in a name?

FOX’s upcoming sci-fi procedural The Frankenstein Code has gone through many name changes from its inception to now. The Frankenstein Code changed its name during production to Lookinglass, seemingly evoking the name of the program the characters were a part of. (As you might have seen on some promo art, one of the characters, Jimmy Pritchard, played by Rob Kazinsky, has “Lookinglass” on his police-cadet-esque activewear). But now the show has been renamed once again—to Second Chance. Why so many name changes?

Personally, I wish FOX would go back to calling the show The Frankenstein Code. The show is about a reanimated police officer who is brought back to life by a bioengineer and a billionaire who apparently wants his money put to some morally bankrupt uses. Why not call the show something with “Frankenstein” in the title? It makes sense.

But since the show is about more than just the conceit of a Frankenstein-esque act occurring, perhaps FOX wants to make sure they really do attract the police procedural crowd by giving it a name with much broader appeal. If that’s the case, then why not create a title that somehow has some police or paramedic lingo, like “DOA” or something like that? Just throwing out ideas. In any case, Second Chance sounds less like a sci-fi police procedural and more like a show in the vein of Touched by an Angel, and I’m pretty sure FOX doesn’t want people to confuse it with that type of show.

The many name changes might also make some fans wonder about the show’s quality itself. Just what will we get if the show can’t even settle on a name? But just because a show’s name has been changed umpteen times doesn’t mean that it’s a dud. One of the most popular instances of a stellar show under a different name is Seinfeld. That show went on to become a comedy classic (and the harbinger of the Seinfeld curse, which has affected almost the entire main cast, except Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Its original name, though, was something much less catchy and much more ominous: The Seinfeld Chronicles. It sounds a little heroic, and that could have been by design, since Jerry Seinfeld is a huge Superman fanatic. But it was renamed because, as Mental Floss writes, NBC was worried viewers would confuse the show with its ABC competitor, The Marshall Chronicles.

Do you remember when Saturday Night Live was called NBC’s Saturday Night? Yep, the show that’s synonymous with our weekends was once called something else. There’s also a name that’s earlier than NBC’s Saturday Night—TV Guide has a listing for Saturday Night with Howard Cosell. This 1975 version of the show bombed, though. The elements were not yet there to create the magic that SNL has had for decades.

A show coming to NBC this winter recently went through its own name 360. Eva Longoria’s comedy Telenovela was changed at some point to Hot & Bothered. But as the show has gotten closer to its premiere date, it has gone back to its original name. I’m glad, because I personally didn’t understand why a name as perfect as Telenovela was let go for a name that sounds like it belongs on TV Land. (No offense to TV Land.)

Another current show, one of the hack-slash variety, was once under various pseudonyms, either to hide the finished product until the final moment to prevent spoilers, or to circumvent confusion. Back in March, MTV’s Scream was made under the working name Hush. Why? There’s no established reason, but Bloody-Disgusting put forth the theory that perhaps they didn’t want people to get it confused with FOX’s Scream Queens. Thankfully, though, they changed their minds went back to Scream, because the Scream movies are now an established brand; if the show was called Hush, people might have gotten even more confused.

Using the name of an established brand brings me back to why Second Chance should just be called The Frankenstein Code. The “Frankenstein” name is a brand by itself. People (like me) would want to tune in just because of the idea we have in our collective consciousness: A man is brought back to life and is now an inhuman being. Why not just capitalize on brand recognition, do a Telenovela, and go back to calling the show The Frankenstein Code?

If you can’t tell, I’m frustrated by the name changes. It would be great to be a fly on the wall to see just why it’s so difficult to pin down this show’s identity. But regardless of whatever is happening behind the scenes, I’m going to watch The Frankenstein Code, aka Lookinglass, aka Second Chance—because a show that’s got a Frankenstein’s monster of a police officer as its main character has to be interesting, at the very least. Hopefully the final name will represent the show well.

What do you think about Second Chance? What name would you give it? Give your opinions below!