Eventually, I would go searching for this information and would find nothing. Why, you might ask? That's because the title of the show had changed to Lookinglass. Okay, whatever, maybe they had a rights issue that couldn't be cleared up or they decided that using the name Frankenstein in the title might turn off the audience in a way. Things happen.
Then, a few months later, I went looking to see if a premiere had been settled on, only to find out that the title of the show had changed again, this time to Second Chance. Funny, I would have thought "third."
Surprisingly, after all this insanity, I waded through the unknown to find out that Second Chance made its premiere on January 13th, so I was finally able to check it out. Is it worth getting into, or was this just a stalling tactic to prolong the release of an underwhelming show? Here are my thoughts on episode 1, entitled "A Suitable Donor" and the future of the series.
Premise / Storyline
Jimmy Pritchard (Philip Baker Hall) is a former sheriff who was forced out of the job after tampering with evidence in what he feels to have been a justifiable action to help keep the town safe. Why did he do it? What did he do, exactly? Those are left up to speculation as part of a mystery to be answered at a later time.
His son, Duval (Tim DeKay—also known as "that guy I always momentarily get mixed up with Nathan Fillion on par with how Elias Koteas and Christopher Meloni look alike as well") is an FBI agent whose partner is corrupt. When Jimmy stumbles upon Duval's partner being all bad guyish, Jimmy is killed.
Lucky for Jimmy, his body is taken by Otto Goodwin (Adhir Kalyan)—a genius with severe social problems who is experimenting with ways to cure his sister Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria) of cancer. They run a super mega successful corporation called Lookinglass (now you get where the title came from) and with their tech, they're able to bring Jimmy back to life in the body of his younger self, portrayed by Robert Kazinsky. By the end of the episode, we're left with some openendedness that implies that the series will consist of Young Jimmy helping Duval get rid of the corruption in the police force while also trying to repair his relationship with his son as well as his drunkard daughter Helen (Amanda Detmer), while Otto focuses on curing Mary rather than himself in the off-time that they aren't Young Jimmy's Alfred Pennyworth or Q, however you look at it.
Casting / Characters
For the most part, these are all perfectly fine. Robert Kazinsky comes off as TV lead material who is charming enough to be liked but has enough of an edge so you kind of associate him with being the "bad boy" antihero that people love so much. Basically, he's a jerk with a heart of gold. Philip Baker Hall is always great, so no complaints about Old Jimmy, that rascal.
Tim DeKay is somewhat of an opposition to Robert Kazinsky. On the surface, Jimmy is a crappier person than Duval, but behind the eyes of the viewer, Duval kind of comes off as less likable. That's a good thing if they're able to explore that some more, but it's a bad thing if Duval just becomes whiny or obnoxiously stubborn where no matter what, he continually reverts back to hating his dad.
Dilshad Vadsaria is gorgeous, and I don't know if that's making me like her character more than I normally would if she were played by someone ugly, which I'll admit is totally wrong, but it happens. That's why they cast beautiful people—sex sells. As beautiful as she is, she wasn't portrayed as "the sexy one" of the show, which goes to Nicky Whelan's character Bettina. She's a super hot prostitute and a very good one at that, it seems, so let's move on.
I could see the character of Mary Goodwin being a huge benefit to the show or something that becomes bothersome, depending on how they handle her. Right now, she comes off as "the responsible one" of the cast. She shows off that she's an astute businesswoman, but most of her decisions come down to saying what is right and what is wrong. Since they clearly don't want to show her off as "the intelligent one" (a position usurped by her brother, Otto) they need to make sure she goes more into the range of being the heart of the group rather than being a nagging shrew. I could love her for being the nicest and most caring of the bunch, or I could grow to just hate every time she opens her mouth if she's scolding people constantly and not doing much else.
Speaking of Otto, that character is annoying. Adhir Kalyan comes off to me as just phoning it in with his performance. I care more about Otto when other people are talking about him than when I'm seeing him on screen. That needs to change.
Kudos to Ciara Bravo for getting another show. I liked her on Red Band Society so I couldn't help but smile when I saw her pop up. It's always nice to see actors get more roles.
Amanda Detmer's Helen…pass. Derek Webster's Agent Strayburn…meh. Scott Menville's artificial intelligent program Arthur? Well, my reaction to that was basically "wait a minute, isn't that Robin from Teen Titans?" He's no HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey or even GERTY from Moon, but he'll do just fine.
Overall, I'm okay with this cast of characters we have in front of us, and it's just a matter of whether or not the writers have a solid enough plan of what to do with them going forward.
Future of the Series
Doomed. Sorry, but I can't be optimistic about this. I've seen way too many shows that I've enjoyed which seemed to have more buzz behind them get axed in their first season. If FlashForward and Forever and the aforementioned Red Band Society couldn't make it to a second season, why would I expect this one to be different? Even shows like Hannibal and Resurrection, which were able to come back, seemed to get preemptively killed off. In some instances, I have to imagine there just isn't support from someone at the top of the food chain that personally likes it, as they would be more than willing to bend the rules a bit for something that they genuinely love, but I don't see that happening here.
Second Chance had its network premiere on January 13th, but it was actually available on demand with a true debut of December 25th. I can't imagine many people tuning in Christmas day for it, but that probably did nothing but hurt this show's chances. The ratings for this first episode were rather low, scoring a 1.2. This is the second lowest of the network shows in that time slot, beating out only a rerun of CW's Arrow (which thankfully has gotten better this season than the last) and falling behind CBS's Criminal Minds (2.0), NBC's Law & Order: SVU (2.0) and ABC's Modern Family (2.6).
It probably doesn't help that the lead-in for Second Chance was American Idol of all things, either. Sure, that show was once a phenomenon, but it isn't anymore. This is the last season, so it's dying, giving off the impression that this just isn't a priority. A dead show that ran its course years ago and has a completely different target audience isn't going to help out a show that has had three title changes, little to no marketing, a previous release and is debuting on Wednesday night in the mid-season.
There's no chance this gets renewed, and seeing as how it's already had its episode order cut in October down to 11, I wouldn't even be surprised if it makes it to that number, sadly.
Watch or Skip?
That being said, I still would recommend it for people who are fans of the genre. It seems like it's an ambitious show that perhaps also just doesn't have enough ambition to stand out. If things were crazier, it could have been more divisive, which means that it could have never made it to the pilot stage to begin with or it could have been something that caught on better. The way it is now, it just seems like it plays it too safe to the point where everyone will view it as mediocre and unoriginal, so they'll write it off as not being worth their time. The choices made in regards to its debut and its marketing have effectively give it the gun that it will shoot itself with, but before the inevitable demise of this program, I'd suggest giving it a watch.
That is, of course, unless episode 2 is terrible, in which case Second Chance might not deserve a second chance.