Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
Frequency – S1E1 – “Pilot” | Wednesdays on The CW | Created by Jeremy Carver from the movie of the same name | Starring: Peyton List, Riley Smith, Devin Kelley, Mekhi Phifer, Anthony Ruivar, Lenny Jacobson, Daniel Bonjour
Back in the day, when I was a “bad boy”, I watched many movies when three or four sheets to the wind. The Dennis Quaid/Jim Caviezel starrer Frequency (2000) was one of them. I remember liking it, but sure I was drunk – how would I know whether it was good or not? But then things got better for me and I ended up revisiting the movie some years later, and it became a favourite of mine. I was always a sucker for time travel fiction, and I lived on a diet of HG Wells and Doctor Who when I was a kid (I still am, kind of), and even now I’ll indulge my particular whimsy if the mood is right (which it normally is). So when I heard that The CW network was rejuvenating Frequency for television, I found myself looking forward to seeing how it turned out.
These are my thoughts.
SO WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s 2016 and Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) is a detective for the NYPD. It’s 20 years since her father died in an undercover operation for the same department, and she’s still haunted by the manner of his death and the claims that he was corrupt. But it’s her 28th birthday and her boyfriend Daniel is this close to proposing to her, so her future is bright. When Daniel finds an old ham radio in the garage, the scene is set for some old-style time travel shenanigans. An electrical storm hits the radio tower and suddenly Raimy finds herself, after a spot of Q&A involving the World Series, talking with her father Frank (Riley Smith) in 1996. Raimy then has the problem of trying to persuade her father not to venture out on the night he’s due to die. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose.
If you understand the concept of “The Butterfly Effect”, you will understand that any attempt to change the past is going to have repercussions in the future. Whereas the movie had a happy ending, with father and son reunited after 90 or so minutes, the television series is taking a different path. Raimy’s attempts to save Frank do not go according to plan and her life at the end of the pilot episode is markedly different to how it started. This is a brave and challenging move on behalf of Jeremy (Supernatural) Carver, and it lends itself to some intriguing plot lines in Frequency’s debut season.
Peyton List has deserved a decent starring role after some good turns in The Tomorrow People (lamented by no one except me, it seems), FlashForward (lamented by no one – not even me), and The Flash. List proves she’s up to the challenge, and seeing that she doesn’t share any scenes with Smith (she’s basically talking into a radio), she provides the emotional depth in her dialogue and expressions that totally sell the character interaction. Smith for his part is no slouch, either. Initially disbelieving, Frank uses his cop instinct when faced with the most unlikely of circumstances, and Smith gives his performance plenty of impetus. The show will live or die on both these actors and characters.
It’s always a good thing to see Mekhi Phifer on our television screens, and his character provides a link between past and present – he was Frank’s partner, now he’s Raimy’s boss, Satch Rayna.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?
Like all pilots, there’s an emphasis on introducing your main characters, and getting the story going. Often the secondary characters get a short thrift. Raimy’s mother Julie (Devin Kelley) is going to be crucial to the season’s arc, but there wasn’t that much time spent with her in the first episode. Likewise with Gordo (Lenny Jacobson), Raimy’s oldest friend. He’s supposed to be the comic relief. Well, I hope he’s funnier next time around. There may be some initial confusion about timelines and stuff, but hey – it’s time travel, right? There’s bound to be some chaos. And a serial killer story line can only go so far. I hope there’s more meat to come. As a love interest, Daniel (Daniel Bonjour) is a touch bland, but the reveal at the end should remedy that.
I am pleasantly surprised how well Frequency turned out. Changing the father/son dynamic of the movie to father/daughter allows for more emotional interaction and involvement. If the show can build on the promise of its pilot, then I’ll be visiting Frequency more – well – frequently. (Sorry.) Now I can only hope Time After Time is as good.
Frequency premiere = 8.3/10