“Closure…it’s what we all want.”
Monday, 9E/8C, FOX. Season Finale airs tonight. Created by Allan Loeb & Christian Taylor. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Zuleikha Robinson, Alexie Gilmore & Stephen Henderson.
Remember Highlander? The movie-turned-tv show about a secret race of immortals living amongst us? Well, the cop show New Amsterdam borrows the main theme of an immortal living in today’s world and ditches the cool swordfighting and mythology. In its place is a rather ordinary cop show only elevated by the main premise and an appealing lead character. It also borrows from Highlander the way each episode is structured, with flashbacks to its lead in funny costumes with the past story in someway paralleling the current story.
John Amsterdam (Coster-Waldau) came to this country in 1620 and after saving a Native American woman from death, she uses that Native American hoo-doo and blesses him with eternal life, with a catch — he can only die when his soul is married to the soul of his true love, or something hokey like that. So, for the past 400 years, John has been trying his best to become mortal (and apparently, loves New York so much that he never, ever leaves) by tracking down his true love. In between, he’s had dozens of wives, fathered 63 children, had 36 dogs (each named by their number) and had lots of adventures.
Now, John puts his encyclopedic personal knowledge of New York’s history and his obsession with death to good work as an NYPD homicide detective, paired with the feisty Latina stereotype Eva Marquez (Robinson). Each week we get a different fairly generic mystery (though they have gotten slightly better as time goes on) coupled with a little more of John’s backstory. The other ongoing sub-plot is John’s relationship with the woman who may or may not be The One, Dr. Sara Dillane (Gilmore) and the complications that come with being a man with a lot of history.
The best parts of the show are the history and the exploration of the effects of immortality, what it has done to John’s various families and kids and especially to his psyche. Coster-Waldau is likable and good as John, though you’d think he’d have lost his European accent by now. Especially strong is his relationship with Omar (Henderson), an older bar owner who has a special connection with Amsterdam. Neither female character is particularly interesting and Gilmore especially needs to be stronger if we’re to believe that she’s the One. If she’s this boring and she’s the One, then I think Amsterdam has been waiting a long time for a letdown.
I generally don’t watch serials except for the occasional rerun on cable when I’m procrastinating, because there is no need to watch them when they’re new — you can see any episode and pretty much enjoy it. New Amsterdam is at least different than the typical serial crime drama CSI / Law & Order type show in that it has a lot of continuity, but you probably still can watch a random episode and understand most of it. Another advantage is that the show isn’t popular enough to have big name guest stars (who are ALWAYS the killer), which means the killer isn’t always obvious as it is in other serials.
Also, the editor of the show is named Speed Weed — I know that means nothing, but it’s an awesome name and I had to point it out.
So, you may be asking yourself, if the season finale is on tonight (and it’s apparently most likely going to be cancelled), why am I writing about it? Well, thanks to Hulu, my new favorite site, you can watch all of the full episodes of the show and many, many others (for example, they have every Arrested Development, full seasons of Newsradio, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, etc) for free. And as NBC’s recent renewal of Friday Night Lights suggests, networks are paying attention to how many people are watching the shows online. So, if you like crime dramas or if you liked Highlander, check out New Amsterdam, if you don’t, it’s probably not going to be up your alley.