RogerBW's Blog

Frequency season 1 12 May 2017

2016-2017 detection, 13 episodes. Frank Sullivan the homicide detective was shot and killed in 1996; in 2016, his daughter Raimy, also a homicide detective, finds that she can talk to Frank of twenty years ago via an old ham radio.

Three time-weirdness series have started recently (the others being Timeless and Making History), and this is trying to be the serious dramatic one while making its science extremely soft. There's not even an attempt at an explanation of how the information transfer is happening; all right, fair enough, this is a fantasy rather than science fiction. But the rules of the world are set up so that changes produce more cascading changes (in the pilot, Raimy saves her father's life by giving him a warning about the ambush in which he historically died, but finds out that while he does survive (a) he's still dead by 2016, (b) her mother was now abducted and murdered by a serial killer, and (c) her boyfriend has no memory of her) which seems like a heavy-handed authorial way of saying that time communication is strictly for plot purposes, not to be used to make anyone's lives better.

This is based on the film of the same name from 2000, where dad was a firefighter and the son was a detective. While I applaud the sex change I think that changing the father's role to detective as well restricts the world views too much: there's generally no reason why Raimy should think of something that Frank doesn't. The time gap has been brought down from the film's thirty years to twenty, presumably so that modern Raimy can be played by a young actress while remembering her father in the past, but this means that there's far less of a gap in world-views than there was in the film's span of 1970 to 2000.

What the show is actually about is police procedural and family drama, only slightly enlivened by the fantastic twist. The time communication aspect is largely reduced to Raimy observing the after-effects of her father's investigations at a twenty-year remove, doing some digging of her own, then telling him where to look next. I didn't find myself in the mood for just another cop show with side orders of emotional drama, particularly one that's desperately underlit most of the time, and even the leads' excellent performances (Peyton List and Riley Smith) couldn't really hold my enthusiasm.

The show's set in New York, but you'd never know it except by looking at the badges; they didn't even spring for a Stargate Studios virtual backdrop. Time strangeness here is a gimmick, and it's not enough to raise this programme out of the pool of generic soapy cop shows, since that's where all the extra material comes from to pad out a film plot into a 13-episode season. (Meanwhile the people who like generic soapy cop shows will be confused by the time stuff.) If only the imagination of the show's creators hadn't ended with the gender swap of one of the stars.

The series was not renewed.

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