Summary: Psychologist Kate McGinn and former NYPD detective Price Whatley attempt to help a teenage boy who believes he is the reincarnation of an eight-year-old girl.
Review: It’s not often I get to review a crime show from its inception, so this is a bit of a treat for me. It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t so thrilled with the show, however, but at least I made it all the way through the first episode this time (sorry, Human Target, I just couldn’t do it with you).
This show needs a lot of work if it hopes to make it past the seven episodes Fox already ordered. A new premise would probably do wonders, but since that’s not possible, let’s see what else we can come up with.
To start, I don’t think this show is sustainable for more than a season at its best. The concept is that what happened in your past life affects your present life. What it boils down to is that Kate and Price solve what are essentially cold cases by finding the reincarnated souls in living people. My question is: how many cases like this could possibly exist in the whole world, let alone just the New York area, where the show takes place? Even if reincarnation does exist, I can’t believe it would be as common as it would need to be to fill all the episodes. If it was so common, wouldn’t it be a little less mysterious? Maybe I’m being cynical, but I’m having trouble buying this premise.
My second problem is completely different, but equally as important. Either the acting or the writing is really bad. Or both are. I can’t be sure after one episode, but something about it seemed really fake. I mean, Richard Schiff was his usual wonderful self, but he wasn’t in nearly enough of the episode to make up for Kelli Giddish. The other characters fluctuated between mildly tolerable (Nicholas Bishop) and absurdly overdramatic (Cayden Boyd). Things were told to the audience through monologues or dialogues instead of shown through the characters’ actions. It took drama away from the moments that really deserved an impact and gave it to moments that could have easily been done better. It also made it boring.
I tried hard to stay focused through the whole thing, but I definitely found my attention wandering during long conversations that seemed irrelevant (of which there were many). The problem with a “tell, don’t show” episode is that it’s not attention-grabbing. In our world of instant gratification, a show simply can’t afford to be boring.
I really wanted to like this show. It sounded like it could have been interesting if it was less about reincarnation in such specific terms and more about the general idea. Also, if they used Richard Schiff more, I think it would have been infinitely better. But there just wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I’d like to give it another chance to see if they fix some of the problems, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep going if they don’t.
For more reviews, visit One DV Rebel’s Guide to Television and Film.
Fun local fact: Richard Schiff, who plays Dr. Talmadge in Past Life, attended the City College of New York in 1973. He dropped out due to lack of interest, but he went back in 1975 and was eventually accepted into their theater program.