In the US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, Fox. Starts January 13
In the UK: Not yet acquired
What's in a name, you might ask. Quite a lot, it seems, in the case of Second Chance, given the contortions it's gone through in its brief life.
The show stars Robert Kazinsky (Dream Team, EastEnders, Pacific Rim) and Philip Michael Hall (The Loop) as Jimmy Pritchard, a retired disgraced sheriff who consorts with prostitutes and has a 'problematic' relationship with his FBI son widower Tim DeKay (White Collar) and granddaughter Ciara Bravo (Red Band Society).
You might have noticed that I said that both Hall and Kazinsky play Jimmy Pritchard. For a change, that's not a grammatical mistake on my part. You see, there's a brilliant pair of rich twins (Dilshad Vadsaria from Greek and Adhir Kalyan from Rules of Engagement). Vadsaria is dying of a rare form of cancer and so Kalyan invents a process that could save her, provided they find someone genetically compatible and a bit dead. Because Kalyan can bring the right person back from the dead and in considerably improved condition - as a better version of themselves, stronger, faster and even younger. And then they can milk him for his curative white blood cells.
When the 70-something Hall finds DeKay's office being broken into, the perps end up throwing him off a bridge. Kalyan brings him back as Kazinsky, who's offered not just a second chance at stopping the perps, but also doing good and perhaps even improving his relationship with his family.
Now, originally, this was called The Frankenstein Code. Whether it's because it had almost nothing to do with Mary Shelley's original book or whether it was because ITV had The Frankenstein Chronicles coming out at roughly the same time, I don't know. But the show soon got renamed Looking Glass - the name of Vadsaria and Kalyan's social media company - and the only vestige of the original name is now Vadsaria's name, 'Mary Godwin' (Godwin being Shelley's maiden name). Apparently, though, Looking Glass was too cryptic and perhaps even too suggestive of Lewis Carroll, because the show was soon renamed Second Chance, which at least is a bit closer to what the show's about.
However, I wonder how much of this name-changing is to distract us all from the fact that Second Chance is basically Now and Again, in which Eric Close plays a genetically perfect reincarnation of the dead John Goodman who's created to solve crimes and do espionage, but spends all his time wanting to fix things with his family, now he can't be with them.
Second Chance has rather a lot in common with Now and Again - a similar plot, similar concerns, better when dealing with family matters than with cops and spies. It's different enough that lawsuits probably won't be flying, but similar enough that you'll feel like you're watching a rerun when you watch it.
It's not without a few saving graces. The idea that youth is wasted on the youthful and the idea of a 'do over' are timelessly appealing. This also isn't 'single point' sci-fi, with the twin's ability to resurrect the dead coming ex nihilo and everything else remaining the same. Instead, it's set in the near future, where everyone's house has computer displays in the windows and a portable of army of UAVs is available when you need it. The show also channels 'superbeing shows' of the 70s and 80s, such as The Gemini Man and Northstar, by giving our hero a time limit each day before he has to be returned to a tank to stop his super-powerful new body rejecting his enhancements and dying permanently.
But it's still not great. Hall's a more interesting character than Kazinsky, just as Goodman was better than Close, inviting his frequent return, I suspect. DeKay is either studiously doing serious acting or has lost the will to live, knowing he's always going to be playing the FBI straight man to someone more interesting - I can't tell which. The rest of the cast aren't great shakes and the cop plots are pretty perfunctory and solved with a couple of punches.
Nevertheless, there's at least potential here and the chance for the show to grow in interesting directions, since there's no obvious fixed format for it. Maybe he'll go off solving crimes; maybe he'll try to bond with his family; maybe he'll be the subject of scientific research every week.
At best, it'll probably be easy viewing on an unchallenging Monday. But that's still better than pretty much any other recent Fox sci-fi show.
- January 23, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Room, Marvel's Agent Carter, Arrow and Endeavour
The TV I watched in the week ending Friday 23rd January 2016
- January 15, 2016: What have you been watching? Including The Hateful Eight, Byw Celwydd, Rebellion and Endeavour
The TV I watched in the week ending Friday 15th January 2016
- February 6, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Okkupert (Occupied), Lucifer and Marvel's Agent Carter
The TV I watched in the week ending Saturday 6th February 2016
- February 1, 2016: What have you been watching? Including The Magicians, The X-Files, Stan Lee's Lucky Man and Okkupert
The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 1st February 2016
- February 14, 2016: What have you been watching? Including The Man From UNCLE, Sicario
The TV I watched in the week ending Saturday 12th February 2016
- February 20, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Vinyl, Wanted and Vikings
The TV I watched in the week ending Saturday 19th February 2016
- March 14, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Flaked, The Intern, Lucifer and Billions
The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 14th March 2016
- March 4, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Ófærð (Trapped), The Shannara Chronicles, Lucifer and The X-Files
The TV I watched in the two weeks ending Friday 4th March 2016
- March 21, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Spotlight, The Americans, Second Chance, The Magicians,
The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 21st March 2016
- April 2, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Banshee, Blå Ögon (Blue Eyes), The Catch, Supergirl and The Americans
The TV I watched in the week ending Saturday 2nd April 2016