Wednesday, February 24, 2016

WORTH WATCHING: Second Chance (Fox)

Current rating: 7/10
Potential Rating: 9/10
Fox, Fri @ 9 ET/PT
Inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Created by: Rand Ravich (aka, the Joss Whedon of Crime Shows)
Cast: Robert Kazinsky, Dilshad Vadsaria, Adhir Kalyan, Ciara Bravo, Vanessa Lengies, Tim DeKay (yay!!)

I finally got a chance to catch up on this show (thanks, Hulu!). I missed the pilot episode *sad face* but I've been so excited about Second Chance that, despite my deep abhorrence for watching shows out of order, I decided to jump in at episode 2. Luckily, they had a decent recap to hold me over until I can see the pilot for reals.

Oh, and I'm hooked.

See, this show caught my attention when it hit the 2016 lineup back in fall, with phrases like 'brought back to life', 'morally corrupt', and '...continue to haunt him'.

This is like my fangirl trifecta.

The series follows the life of Jimmy Pritchard, a 75-year-old former King County, Washington sheriff who was morally corrupt and later disgraced and forced to retire. After he is killed in a robbery at his son's home, Pritchard is brought back to life in the improved body of a younger man by billionaire tech-genius twins Mary and Otto Goodwin. However, despite having a new life and a chance to relive his life and find a new purpose, the temptations that led to his career being tarnished continue to haunt him.

Why I Love It

It's quite simple. Moral ambiguity vs the white hat.

Jimmy Pritchard, in his first life, would cross the line for the right reasons, and now he's got a second chance, in a younger, freakishly strong body, without the same rules he had to skirt around before BUT he's also trying to make amends with his son Duval, a straight-laced, by-the-book FBI agent who's determined to overcome the family's 'corrupt cop' reputation.


I will be completely honest. This strained relationship, the attempts to mend it, and the basic moral opposition that creates the strife is the main reason I am infatuated with this show. I am all about characters, especially flawed characters, and I love watching well-done character development.
Granted, Second Chance needs a little work, but that's something it can easily grow into. They just need to hammer home this difference in morals. I love the developing relationship between young Jimmy and Duval, despite their differences, but so far it's almost too easy. They've been poking at the moral conflict, creating some episodic strain between Jimmy and Duval, showing us Jimmy's bad habits of hanging out in dives, getting drunk, picking fights -but what they really need is to push more of Jimmy's genuine flaws to the forefront, really home in on that 'temptations...continue to haunt him' promised in the premise, and have them clash with Duval's uncompromising nature, because so far their moral differences haven't forced either character to morally compromise themselves or created any lasting consequences.

So far, episodes 3 and 4 have been my favorite, because they have strayed the most into this emotional minefield.

On the upside, I suspect that Philip Baker Hall's continued recurrence as old Jimmy will eventually lead to a visual embodiment of this moral conflict in young Jimmy, between past flaws and second chance. I quiver with anticipation.

Speaking of complicated relationships...

Another regret in Jimmy Pritchard's life was not treating his wife as well as he could have. Does the show spell a second chance at love for him, as well as the reparations of his relationship with Duval? Of course it does, because those blood transfusions with Mary involve long hours sitting alone together while trying to save her life.

One might think this potential romance between the recently-75-year-old and the much-younger Mary Goodwin is weird -okay, it's a little weird- but so far it's being approached delicately, and the greatest impact their relationship is having is on a developmental level. Mary wants to see him take full advantage of his second chance, coaxing him when things get tough with Duval. Jimmy wants to see her take advantage of the time she has and live a little more.

Please, please, pleasepleasepleaseplease do not ruin this golden opportunity for a genuine, healthy relationship with lust and meaningless sex. I'm begging you.

Again, in tandem with how I want to see the characters evolve, I also want to see them -specifically Jimmy- jeopardize their own successful and potential development. Because apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.

The Whole Frankenstein Thing

For being a modern inspiration of Frankenstein, I feel like the 'bring someone back to life' bit is handled with modern, realistic plausibility. It has a good set up -reclusive billionaire genius with unlimited funds and no one asking questions- and better yet a good reason -he's trying to find a cure for his sister's terminal cancer.

However, I do think viewers are getting too hung up on this 'Frankenstein' comparison, and some of the reviews so far reflect that. Instead of seeing the word 'inspired by', they're thinking 'adaptation' and, frankly, it isn't. Otto Goodwin is no Victor Frankenstein and the new and improved Jimmy Pritchard, despite his moral ambiguity and unexpected super-human strength, is not a monster. (Not yet, anyway.)

So that's an important thing. Don't go into this looking for a new Frankenstein. Just enjoy it for what it really is. Okay? Okay.

Having said that, it's entirely possible that show creator/writer Rand Ravich is merely working his way towards a stronger Frankenstein parralel. Already, the creator in Otto Goodwin is least enamored of his creation. While the rest of the cast is satisfied with seeing Jimmy given a second chance and trying to put his new skills to good use, Otto's disapproval and contention over what Jimmy isn't is building in the background.

So far, the relationship between Jimmy and Otto is the least developed, but it's definitely intentional. What have you got up your sleeve, Rand Ravich?


I like the casting overall, but I think the performances of Robert Kazinsky and Tim DeKay specifically are phenomenal, and I love the guest bits of Philip Baker Hall.

Robert Kazinsky, an actor I was not before familiar with, exudes the bad boy haunted by inner demons with a dark brooding and determination. That Look he gives bad guys makes me squirm.
That's the one.
At the same time, he manages to tackle the role with the exuberance, energy, and giddiness befitting a 75-year-old suddenly restored to youth. In turns noble, dark, and happy-go-lucky, he really pulls off that new life/old temptations vibe.
I loved Tim DeKay in White Collar -who didn't?- and his casting was reason #2 I was excited for this show. Arguably, his role hasn't changed much. By-the-book, good guy FBI agent, saddled with a morally ambiguous partner. Honestly, I think that makes DeKay and his knack for wry humor the perfect choice for the role of Duval Pritchard. We already know he can pull it off, and I like seeing DeKay take on the added emotional baggage of quote/unquote 'daddy issues'.

Philip Baker Hall is a great choice for the cantankerous, no-holds-barred, old-school sheriff who pops into Jimmy's head every so often to remind him who he used to be.

The casting department also get a helping of Geek Cred for using Scott Melville of Teen Titans fame as the voice of Goodwin's super high-tech computer interface, Arthur.

Now for creator Rand Ravich. See, I knew his name sounded familiar, but I've only just now realized why. Rand Ravich was the creator and producer of Life, the crime drama about a cop (Damien Lewis) falsely accused of murder, exonerated after twelve years in Pelican Bay and returned to his job on the force. One of my other favorite shows, co-starring Sarah Shahi, this sadly only lasted two seasons despite its quirky zen lead and brilliant concept.

His efforts with Second Chance have only proved that his skill with meshing great character, emotion-toying development, interesting plot lines, and working unconventional premises into cop shows was not a one hit wonder. For this reason, Rand Ravich is quickly becoming my Joss Whedon of crime shows.

Despite its flaws, Second Chance is a diamond in the rough.

Like I said, this show needs to make a bigger impact. Drive home some of Jimmy's flaws; show us more genuine conflict with the characters, but let it lead somewhere. Maybe tone back the cop procedural; obviously it's a key component of the show, but I think it would benefit by shifting the characters to the focal point and using the crime of the week to reflect their struggles and victories.

BUT THESE ARE ALL QUALITIES THAT CAN -AND NEED- TO DEVELOP NATURALLY WITHIN THE CHARACTERS AND THE STORY LINE ITSELF. What we have so far is a great start for the show, but this may not satisfy the viewers of today, who want everything, and want it now.

Already the show is moving toward more oomph, as E6 just revealed some bad guys lurking in the shadows and something hinky is going on with Jimmy's genetic code. I'm crossing my fingers so hard that this new genetic code development is somehow tied to his moral behavior (ie, lasting consequences) that my knuckles ache.

I only hope this show gets the chance to truly shine and doesn't get pulled prematurely.

My rating for the show is 7/10 for the five episodes I've seen -good premise, interesting direction, thoroughly enjoyable, and the ability to toy with my emotions- but you probably noticed that I added another rating sections under 'Potential', with the higher 9/10. Here's a quick rundown of the differences:

  • 'Current Rating' -rating of the show so far, based on what we actually know.
  • 'Potential Rating' -projected rating based on the direction it's heading and the plot threads I see developing; essentially, what the show has the potential to rate if it survives and gets the chance to mature.
This isn't spastic, I swear. This is me, getting fed up with too many good shows being axed too quickly because viewers and reviewers are losing patience without factoring in the potential of a developing show. So there. :P

So do this fangirl a favor, share this review to spread the word and check out Second Chance on Hulu or or Friday nights. See if you think it's worth watching, too.

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