Do you really want to live Forever?

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Pho­to cred­it: Dis­ney / ABC Tele­vi­sion Group

Dr. Hen­ry Mor­gan (Ioan Gruffudd) is British, works as a med­ical exam­in­er for the New York Police Depart­ment, and likes scarves and clas­si­cal music. Oh, he is also immor­tal and utter­ly clue­less why.

Fear not, this is not a spoil­er to the show and not even to its pilot as the first episode begins with Morgan’s words about his “first death” two cen­turies ago. Since then he hasn’t aged a day, main­tain­ing the look of a man in his mid to late thir­ties and has nev­er died. Well, actu­al­ly he has died many times but always came back to life with­in sec­onds and with­out a scratch. Hav­ing pre­sent­ed that brief state­ment about his “con­di­tion” – as he calls it – Dr. Mor­gan assures us that we know as much about it as he him­self does. What fol­lows is the unrav­el­ing of the first clues about a mys­te­ri­ous­ly emerg­ing oppo­nent – dan­ger­ous and unpredictable.

The most notable char­ac­ter besides Hen­ry Mor­gan is his sev­en­ty-some­thing room­mate and antique store own­er, Abra­ham (Judd Hirsch), the only one who knows about Henry’s con­di­tion and his tor­ment­ing heartache caused by a woman he met in 1945 and lat­er mar­ried: His lost wife Abi­gail (MacKen­zie Mauzy).

Anoth­er impor­tant char­ac­ter is Henry’s col­league, Detec­tive Jo Mar­tinez (Alana de la Garza). Occa­sion­al­ly, Hen­ry talks to her about him­self in round­about ways, reveal­ing aspects of his past that are trou­bling. Jo, who is also suf­fers from emo­tion­al wounds of the past, appre­ci­ates Henry’s com­pa­ny despite being reg­u­lar­ly puz­zled by his eccen­tric­i­ties. Right from the begin­ning, view­ers will cer­tain­ly notice that they are fond of each other.

Hav­ing lived a few hun­dred years, Dr. Mor­gan is not your stan­dard med­ical exam­in­er. Hav­ing seen and expe­ri­enced much dur­ing these past cen­turies, he is rem­i­nis­cent of Sher­lock Holmes – only thrice as per­cep­tion­al and sophis­ti­cat­ed and two-hun­dred times more knowl­edge­able. His immor­tal­i­ty and age are essen­tial to solv­ing case after case, a fact which daz­zles his unaware col­leagues. In a sense, Henry’s inex­haustible knowl­edge is a char­ac­ter of its own – and cer­tain­ly the dri­ving force behind his inves­ti­ga­tions. How­ev­er, his unfath­omable knowl­edge is on occa­sion com­i­cal­ly con­trast­ed with a pecu­liar lack of knowl­edge about pop­u­lar cul­ture (“Who’s Indi­ana Jones?”), most often brought to light by his admir­ing assis­tant Lucas Wahl (Joel David Moore), who con­stant­ly and unsuc­cess­ful­ly tries to become bet­ter acquaint­ed with the eccen­tric and secre­tive Dr. Morgan.

ABC’s For­ev­er (2014–15) has the stan­dard struc­ture of a crime dra­ma series with a new mur­der case solved in every episode. More­over, Dr. Mor­gan is always remind­ed of a sim­i­lar event in the past which is woven into the present day plot. Also, Henry’s quests to gain knowl­edge about his con­di­tion, to find a way to end it, and – last but not least – to hide it from every­one are repeat­ed themes through­out the series. Each episode ends with “the moral of the sto­ry,” pre­sent­ed by Dr. Morgan’s voice-over, a charm­ing and some­times even tru­ly touch­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing voice-over.

The cast is well cho­sen across the board, and the on-screen chem­istry between Ioan Gruffudd and Alana de la Garza is sure­ly one of the show’s strong points – as is Gruffudd’s per­for­mance in gen­er­al. His looks, ges­tures, and way of talk­ing just ooze with 1800s British gen­tle­men vibes, and his “oth­er­ness” in mod­ern day New York has just the right feel.

Well, Dr. Morgan’s life may fit the show’s title and go on for­ev­er, but the show itself does not: It got killed after the first sea­son offi­cial­ly due to low rat­ings. My per­son­al diag­no­sis: A crime dra­ma series with fan­ta­sy ele­ments and high enter­tain­ment val­ue. Should you grow to love the show in the course of its 22 episodes, best stick to its main mes­sage and move on. Keep it in good mem­o­ry, but don’t dwell on what could have been. Remem­ber: noth­ing lasts forever.


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