Episode 1 “Suitable Donor”
[photos: Bill Matlock/FOX]
“What would you do with a second chance?”
That’s how it starts. And in the next second, the show almost lost me. Because it did that “Three Months Earlier” crap that I absolutely hate. I hate it.
And it’s especially egregious because it was completely unnecessary in this case, because outside of one image of the “new” Jimmy Pritchard — completely without context — we could have skipped that altogether and gone right into the plot, which is exactly what we did.
That plot starts out introducing us to our major players:
- retired (and disgraced) sheriff Jimmy Pritchard
- Duval Pritchard, the FBI agent forced to deal with the embarrassment of being the corrupt sheriff’s son
- Mary Goodwin, the brilliant scientist dying of cancer
- Otto Goodwin, Mary’s twin brother, a brilliant
- Helen, Duval’s sister
- Gracie, Duval’s daughter
Mary and Otto are genius twins, tech gurus running a company called Lookinglass, which has a browser and operating system through which Otto has been monitoring the world in search of a suitable match for his sister — and not in a romantic sense. Her cancer has progressed past the stage where chemotherapy is effective, so Otto’s been working on a way to develop super-potent white blood cells.
The process he’s got: resurrecting a dead man.
The dead man in question: retired sheriff Jimmy Pritchard, who was forced to leave office after a scandal involving planted evidence. Disappointing his son, Jimmy is one of those fathers — neglectful, crass, an embarrassment to the family, etc. — and he wishes son Duval would take his FBI job more seriously. Duval’s case, a series of bank robberies, has everyone stymied because the thieves seem to be one step ahead of the investigation all the time.
Turns out there’s a reason for that. Jimmy stumbles across Duval’s partner, Strayburn, going through files. Strayburn, along with his partner in crime, take Jimmy and throw him off the bridge, making it look like a suicide.
So when Pritchard shows up on Otto’s radar, he turns out to be the best match for the resurrection program, which has gone as far as goldfish. Mary, in the midst of doing television interviews to make everyone think she’s fine and the company’s fine and nothing to see here, is against Otto moving too far forward. Human trials, to her, are a long ways away.
Otto can’t stand the thought of losing his sister, as it would leave him pretty much in a vegetative state because he’s not good with socialization. So in a fit of desperation, not wanting to miss the perfect opportunity, he snags Pritchard’s body without Mary’s consent, moving forward with the process before she gets home.
Enter the resurrected Jimmy Pritchard, now in the body of a 35-ish-year-old hunk who looks like a fitness trainer. He has to wrap his head around the fact that he’s still alive, that he’s in a new body, and that he’s got to figure out who killed him.
It’s a lot to take in.
But this is television, and it’s an hour-long episode, and of course he’s going to take to it pretty quickly. Because that’s what you do. Now, having said that, it’s clear that the show isn’t going to take itself that seriously, to the point of being grimdark, but it’s also not going to plant tongue firmly in cheek, either.
The rest of the hour is taken up with nuJimmy connecting with Duval and trying to make some headway on the bank robbery case, having identified Strayburn from the funeral photos. Now he has to figure out how to warn Duval, how to find the evidence of Strayburn’s involvement in the crime ring, and dealing with the fact that he has to be back in his Borg Sleep Pod™ on a regular basis or his body starts to reject itself.
Meanwhile, his super-potent white blood cells are being harvested and injected into Mary to keep her alive.
As setups go, it’s not too shabby. It’s not a complete rip-off of Frankenstein, and it’s not totally a trope-filled execution, either. There are worse ways to pass an hour (one of them are on Fox Monday nights opposite Supergirl…), and the performances are solid enough to make the whole thing watchable. The idea of the one twin who acts without moral guardrails could be an interesting plot to develop, if the show wants to go that direction.
Some have pointed out the “problem” of the Lookinglass tech. The idea of using the Internet as a surveillance system is nothing new, and Second Chance glosses over the fact that Otto has a way to see into everyone’s lives — but we get that in real life with all of the cameras that surround us already — but it’s a concern that should be addressed at some point, especially if Mary and Otto are going to become “Team Pritchard” and help him fight crime.
The other complaint — that Pritchard takes his new abilities and does crime-fighting — is a little off the mark, too. Think about it: what’s a retired cop going to do? If he’s good at his job, or obsessed with his job, he’s going to find a way to keep doing the job. How many private detectives in media are former cops or soldiers? Or related to cops? V.I. Warshawski, Chris Cagney, Mike Hammer, Thomas Magnum, Travis McGee…
While it’s not a lot of heavy lifting mentally, it’s a decent enough show that should have a pretty good run. It’s certainly better than I expected it to be, given the shaky development process.