Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I am the first to admit that I watch a lot of television. With chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or whatever else I have been diagnosed with, the end result is that I come to the evenings too exhausted to do much more than curling up on the sofa with Dashwood, our mini-dachshund, and watching TV with E. In addition to our current favorites of House, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, Bones, CSI (original and Miami), Criminal Minds, Survivor, What Not to Wear, ER, and, of course, NCIS, we've found a new favorite: New Amsterdam.
The premise is an original take on the crime drama with a fairy-tale twist: John Amsterdam is a non-aging 400 years old and will not become mortal until he finds "true love." So while Amsterdam solves crimes as an NYPD detective, he's also having flashbacks to his previous relationships and professions along the way: he's been an artist, a doctor on Civil War battlefields, a businessman just before the outbreak of World War II, etc. One of the major characters in the series is his biracial son, Omar, a bar owner in his 60's, who is "in" on his secret immortality. When we are taken back to his life in the 1930's, one of his daughters works as his middle-aged secretary and also knew his secret. But with other past family members, he apparently did NOT tell of his immortality, including his family in the early 1900's which was portrayed in this week's episode.
Right now complications are arising as Amsterdam thinks he may have found "the one" -- the woman who will be his true love among all of the women he has loved and married over the past four hundred years. Sarah is a doctor whom he met in the first episode when John suffered from an apparently fatal heart attack; she was certainly surprised to talk to him after pronouncing him dead several days beforehand. When Sarah pushes him about his past (or lack of it after she "Googles" him), Amsterdam bursts out with the truth -- but she doesn't believe him. At the end of last night's episode, we see her softening toward him, apparently willing to become involved with a man either with no past or too much past. Their love for each other may make him mortal ... we'll have to see.
The story lines of his past are intriguing for this history buff -- and his family tree is really something else as he has fathered 63 children, all but Omar predeceasing him. Amsterdam is a man of truth and bravery who is forced into deception because of his secret immortality, and he is very conscious of the trail of pain he has left behind him. And besides the history, the flashbacks, and the love interest, his African-American female partner and his white female boss are wonderfully strong women -- his boss is a kick-and-a-half with her dry wit and observant cynicism. And then there's the crimes to be solved as well -- solid mysteries that are interesting to watch unfold and are often devoid of easy answers.
New Amsterdam is a clever show with intriguing people, interesting plots, and twists and turns galore. If you are the sort who like a good crime drama and deep characterization, you'll like it. It's so good that it almost makes up for Crossing Jordan being canceled. Almost.