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Monday, March 24, 2008 12:54 PM
On the Viewer - New Amsterdam ("Soldier's Heart")
 by Fëanor

I'm already falling behind on this show, even though I can watch it whenever I want online. D'oh! Anyway, this episode, which is from... two weeks ago now, is a pretty good one. The crime being investigated is the murder of a psychiatrist, and the obvious suspect is a seriously disturbed Iraq War veteran who is prone to violent outbursts and who had an appointment with the doctor around the time of her death. And indeed Amsterdam talks the guy into confessing. But later he feels certain that he made a mistake and that the real murderer is still at large. In Amsterdam's flashback story, we learn that he was a surgeon during the Civil War and had some tragic first-hand experience with the same kind of post-traumatic stress his suspect is experiencing (although back then it was known as "Soldier's Heart" - thus the episode title). Meanwhile, he finally gets an excuse to officially meet the woman whom he suspects is "The One." She quickly recognizes him as her mysterious walk-out resurrection case and asks if she can do some tests. He submits and seems to be getting closer to her, but later learns something about her that puts a pretty big stumbling block in the way of his pursuit of her.

This show is sort of still on probation with me. It hasn't done anything so amazing that I feel absolutely dedicated to watching it from here on out, but it also hasn't done anything so stupid that I feel like I can drop it for good. It's clever and moving at times, cheesy at others. I wasn't a big fan of the scene in this episode when we realize that the guy in Amsterdam's flashback is a famous historical personality. I always thought that was corny and hard to believe when they did this in Young Indiana Jones, and I think it's corny and hard to believe here, too.

I should also mention that the "hidden compartment" in the desk that Amsterdam rather ridiculously finds because he recognizes the type of desk from his past is barely hidden at all, and his partner is a pretty crummy detective for missing it.

Still, like I said, nothing too awful happens in this episode, there's some good acting, and the story's interesting enough. I suspect I'll load up the next episode pretty soon.
Tagged (?): New Amsterdam (Not), On the Viewer (Not), TV (Not)
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Sunday, March 9, 2008 10:24 PM
On the Viewer - New Amsterdam ("Pilot" & "Golden Boy")
 by Fëanor

I hope all the shows I'm interested in are on Fox from now on. Thanks to the fact that New Amsterdam, a new series whose premise intrigued me, was on that station, I was able to watch it when I wanted on Fox's handy on demand online video player. (I swear Fox is not paying me to say these things. Although I wish it were. Call me, Fox?)

New Amsterdam is essentially just another cop show, but with a really interesting twist: the main character is immortal. He came from Amsterdam in the late 17th century to settle New Amsterdam in the New World. He saved a female Native American from being killed by his compatriots, and was stabbed for his trouble. The woman in turn saved him, but her healing magics had a strange side-effect: he will now never grow old and never die, until he finds his one true love. When that happens, he'll become mortal and finally pass away.

As the show opens, it's over 300 years later, in the present, and the man now going by the name of John Amsterdam has stayed in New York City all this time and watched it grow up around him. At the moment he's a homicide detective, and each episode consists of him solving a murder investigation, with some help from his pretty new partner, but mostly with the assistance of the memories and skills he's picked up over the years. And of course we always get to see some interesting flashbacks.

In the first episode, Amsterdam meets his new partner, a tough, smart, no-nonsense woman who knows about his reputation for going through partners like wet tissue paper, but who is also determined to stick around and do the job right. She seems to have a secret past of her own, but the details haven't come out yet in the episodes I've seen.

Amsterdam, for his part, starts by trying to push her away, but soon warms to her. Their first case is the shooting death of a young woman. The obvious suspect is her ex-boyfriend, whom Amsterdam sees leaving the crime scene covered in blood and carrying a gun. After chasing the suspect and then losing him in the subway, Amsterdam becomes convinced that the young man didn't do it. He also unexpectedly picks up the trail of his one true love. In the next episode, Amsterdam continues following the trail of The One while at the same time he and his partner are investigating the seemingly accidental death of a very talented student. Also, the true nature of the relationship between Amsterdam and his bartender, Omar, is revealed through some fascinating flashbacks to a romance Amsterdam had in 1941. (Omar was introduced in the first episode as an old friend of Amsterdam's who knows his secret.)

So far I'm not absolutely loving the show, but I'm certainly not disliking it either. It's pretty average as a cop show, and it can get a little corny at times. But the emotional resonance of Amsterdam's predicament and his relationships with people and with the city keep things very interesting. He actually wants to meet The One and die, because only through death will his overlong life gain meaning and substance. And through all the many relationships he's had in over 300 years, he has never experienced real, true love. It's a sad and fascinating idea. It's also interesting that Amsterdam has been in New York City from its very beginnings through to the present day (I like the way this is driven home in the scene that reveals he's been taking a picture of Times Square pretty much every year since the city's founding). He has become in many ways the memory of the city; its spirit; its conscience; the ghost that haunts it.

Sometimes he can be kind of annoying, though. He makes almost no effort to hide the odd truth about himself, and instead is constantly spouting off odd facts and anecdotes that it's really unlikely he'd know unless he lived fifty or a hundred or two hundred years ago. No one really seems to catch on, however; they just think he's a weirdo. And after all, what does he care if people find out about him?

Overall, it's an intriguing and engaging show that's also at times even genuinely moving. And the constant murder mysteries help generate action, suspense, and interesting flashbacks. It's not the greatest series ever, but I do plan to keep watching for now.
Tagged (?): New Amsterdam (Not), On the Viewer (Not), TV (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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