Belated Pilot Reviews: Frequency and Falling Water


Image: CW

Genre: Mystery/Sci-fi

Synopsis: Detective Raimy Sullivan grew up knowing her father had been an undercover cop who went bad, and then got himself killed. Until his old ham radio in her garage somehow puts her in contact with the him from twenty years ago. Working together, the father-daughter duo have the opportunity to figure out what went wrong, and possibly save his life. If they can change the past, and deal with whatever consequences that brings.

Series: First season is airing

I’ve Watched: The first episode.

Verdict: Good.


Despite the fact that this show isn’t really my style, it was pretty good. It kept hooking me enough to want to see what happens next.

There are a lot of time travel shows out right now–Doctor Who, Legends of Tomorrow, Timeless. Frequency manages to put its own spin on the topic by placing restrictions on it. Only information can move through time, and only through the availability of certain equipment. Moreover, time flows the same on both ends–it’s always the exact same date and time when they communicate, but a different year. This is a great way to prevent do-overs without going into the nebulous arguments of ‘we just shouldn’t go back to the same time.’

Frequency deals with some interesting ideas, too–how altering the past can trigger one small change that reverberates down the line into bigger changes. And this is what allows the show to keep going. Because saving Raimy’s father is a time-limited goal. Once they succeed, where’s the show gonna go? But because of those butterfly effect changes, and because of how bad those changes are for Raimy and her father personally, the show keeps going. They now know some terrible other thing is going to happen to them, and they have all the incentive to stop it.

Another intriguing aspect of this show, is that its focus is entirely personal. The other time travel shows listed above all deal with world-altering crises. The protagonists are trying to save humanity, or the time line, or some other huge goal. In Frequency, all the protagonists want is to save their family. They’re changing history so that they can have a happy family life that they’d never experienced before. That’s it. And it’s nice to see something different here.

So I liked it. It was well done, the characters felt real, and it constantly made me want to see what happens next. I don’t know that I’ll keep following it, because like I said, it isn’t really my type of show. But for anyone who’s interested in a cop procedural with a time traveling twist, this is a decent one to check out.

Falling Water

Image: USA

Genre: Supernatural

Synopsis: Three people are having strange dreams, eventually realizing that they’re sharing those dreams.

Series: First season is airing.

I’ve Watched: Half of the first episode.

Verdict: Boring.


I hate to say this, but it feels like Falling Water is trying to be Sense 8, with no real concept of where Sense 8’s strengths lay. Or possibly just no idea how to reveal character in a way that’s interesting.

But I have to give some more specific examples, so let’s get into the very first scene, the one Falling Water chooses to open with. A woman is giving birth, and as the doctors and the baby disappear, we start to realize that she’s dreaming about her baby being taken away.

Already, that’s a tired concept. a) We’ve seen this kind of thing so many times, it’s overdone. We could have been introduced to this character through literally anything, but it had to be this. b) If they were going to do a scene like this, overdone topic or not, it shouldn’t have been so generic. It should have been personal. It should have happened after we already knew something about this character’s relationship to the concept of motherhood. Is this fear specific or abstract? Why is she afraid of this specifically, enough to have nightmares about it?

If this kind of scene existed in a show like Orphan Black, you can bet we’d have a powerful idea of how the mother as an individual reacts to it, and what exactly is on the line for her. The audience would be right with that character, in her head.

In Falling Water, the scene fails to be about this character’s experiences. It doesn’t make us see her as an individual in any way. She’s just an idea, some generic woman afraid of losing her child, instead of a specific woman afraid of losing this particular child. With shoddy character development coming right out of the gate, my expectations were immediately lowered.

This wasn’t an isolated incident, either. Every scene that tries to reveal aspects of the characters comes off as shallow. There just isn’t much to say about this show except that it’s boring. It’s a shame, because I actually like a lot of the acting. But the actors aren’t given much to work with.

I couldn’t even make it through the whole of the first episode. I was too bored.