Small Screen must watch: What if you could live Forever?

  • Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2016 18:46 IST
Forever is currently being aired in India on Colors Infinity.

What would it be like if you were immortal? The TV show Forever, currently showing on Colors Infinity, tries to answer this impossible question in a riveting drama set in New York.

We are just half way through (episode 15 in a 22-part series) and I am already disappointed that the network (ABC) has not renewed the show for a second season. (By the way, it's also a bit sad that we are seeing the show almost a year after it premiered in the US).

I have friends who are iffy about the show but I like it, chiefly because of the lead character, Dr Henry Morgan, a New York city medical examiner.

Played with dazzling finesse by the elegantly handsome Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, Henry is always well dressed in classy jackets, with a scarf tied casually about his throat, and he brings to his job all the knowledge (often rather arcane) and expertise that he's acquired by virtue of being alive for more than 200 years. This is his gift (or is it a curse?): every time he is killed, he finds himself, stark naked, in water - sea, river, whatever. He was first born in the late 18th century, has been an English gentleman in the 19th century, seen both the World Wars, and today, in 21st century New York, he lives with his son, Abe (a baby he found in a German concentration camp and then adopted) -- except that now, the son is old enough to be his father!

Abe (Judd Hirsch) runs an antique shop and the two men live together in a warm, companionable way, often pulling each other's leg, but always there for each other. And Abe is the only one who knows Henry's secret. As a medical examiner who studies dead bodies in criminal cases (he says he's "a student of death"), Henry works closely with his assistant, the horror film and slasher comic fan Lucas Wahl (Joel David Moore) and the gorgeous, tough NYPD cop Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza).

Each episode deals with a different homicide and the show works because of the ingenuity and impressive skills that Henry brings to solving the murders - even as Jo and Lucas look on with a mixture of disbelief, admiration, indulgence and pride. If there is some paint embedded in the fingernail of a dead person, Henry can identify the scrap of paint precisely: its vintage, where it can be found in the city - and voila!

That's a clue in solving the crime. Henry knows Latin and Greek; this helps him, for example, in finding out who murdered a university professor of Ancient Studies. He knows the history of great art, and has an unerring eye for antiques. What he is not entirely comfortable with are the trappings of modern life (he refuses to carry a mobile phone). His cultured, sensitive, intimidatingly knowledgeable persona is a curiosity in today's world - but disarmingly so.

But Henry has his own share of pain and unhappiness from his past lives - his first 19th century wife didn't believe his claims of immortality and sent him to a lunatic asylum; his second wife who he met during World War II and fell in love with, died - as all mortals must one day.

Sadly for him, Henry has to bear the burden of his sorrows alone; the only other person he can share it with is Abe. And his immortality gets in the way of him forming new relationships of a romantic nature.

Otherwise, it's clear that Jo Martinez, a widow mourning her husband, would be an ideal candidate. The two already have an affectionate and understanding friendship.

Then suddenly, one day, in New York, Henry is contacted by a mysterious man who also claims to be immortal (2,000 years old!). The nature of this contact is veiled in threats and Henry is disturbed, upset.

What will happen now? I've steered clear of all spoilers so I have no idea. But Forever is the kind of show you can unwind with at the end of a tiring day - and it also makes you wish that someone like Dr Henry Morgan actually existed!

Five Dr Henry Morgan quotes on life, death and immortality:

1 The problem with living 200 years isn't the loneliness or the loss, okay, sure it is those things, but what really gets you is when life ceases to surprise you.

2 What we try to hide about ourselves in life is revealed in death…our fears, our insecurities, but most of all, our secrets.

3 When you are immortal, you have to be reminded of beauty. Days stretch into years, stretch into centuries. Time can lose its meaning.

4 As sad and dreadful as death may be, it forces us to cherish every moment because the truth is… life is precious because it's finite.

5 No matter how we live or die, we all end the same, in silence. All of our hopes and dreams in life become mere echoes of a tale cut short. But if we're lucky enough, our stories live on. Our song finds voice in the hearts of those who remember us and loved us.


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