Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Amsterdam review

Well, I know I mentioned before that I had just missed the premiere of New Amsterdam. And actually it turns out my DVR has a conflict so I won't be recording it. But luckily, the episodes are set to show up online for free. FOX's online media player isn't the best quality so you might want to check out somewhere else. But my opinion on that is that the network should be happy I'm seeking it out at all.

The show itself, just aired episode 3 tonight, and I have yet to watch it, but I thought I'd give my opinion on the first two, seeing as there's definitely still time to catch up if your interested. And for now at least I'd say its conditionally worth checking out. Definitely not something I'm going to invest too heavily in but the show has 'potential' to be very good. So far it only has moments of good.

The premise is that a man back in the 17th century gave his life in the pitch of a battle to save that of a native American woman. In return for the foreigners kindness the woman brought him back from the dead and blessed, or cursed him with immortality. That is at least until he finds his "true love". Once he completes that fairy tale he will be made mortal once again to love and die as a man. Cut to present day and we find our hero John Amsterdam, somewhat world weary but no less worse for the wear, working as a homicide detective in New York City. In the pilot, while chasing down a criminal in the subway he unexpectedly has a heart attack. Proof positive, in his mind that somewhere in that station, somewhere was the woman he is destined to love. Now he only has to find her in a city of millions.

It's basically like The Highlander, only instead of chopping heads off, its about finding true love...

So, not an entirely original premise, and honestly a bit thin around the edges, BUT there is something to it. Immortality is always an interesting hook to me. I like the sci fi element of it, I like the magic. The rest of the show, so far at least, is fairly disposable. It's a procedural cop show. His best friend is the local bartender who knows his secret, also ripped from the Highlander playbook. Although interestingly as revealed in episode 2, the bartender is actually his son. And of course there's romance around every bend; that's for the ladies in the audience ;) New Amsterdam is definitely still finding its feet. Understandably I suppose. Rumor was a few months back that the show was held off from its intended Fall mid season start-up not only because of the then looming writers strike, but because executives at FOX weren't happy that the show seems to lack direction. They did not abandon it though, and I think the fact that its still on the air after 3 episodes is commendable work on the studios part (this is FOX after all).

Is New Amsterdam worth checking out? I'd say yes, but only if you're interested in this kind of a hook. Only if you want some magic and sense of the fantastical in your shows. This isn't a gritty show. It doesn't have any teeth at all, but it might yet develop them. I will definitely say though, like the Highlander tv series before it, the show could grab people more with the interesting backstories. The flashbacks where we have the same man in many times, that's what we need to draw us into the world. The interest and development of the present day characters will come in time. Highlander had the swordplay and action to fall back on, this does not. You see, I get what they're trying to do with the fairy tale love story, and its sweet; but so far I just don't care about these people enough to feel much of anything along with them. The trips through time are what attract me, and possibly you, to the story.

You should know by now if you want to check it out, if you're still not sure though, maybe it'll be better to wait and watch it all as a season set on dvd. I bet once it gets through these first awkward episodes, New Amsterdam could be a really worthwhile show. Of course that's only if it makes it.

Once again, you can watch all the episodes online here.

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