In a year full of reboots (Exorcist, MacGyver, Training Day), time travel shows (Making History, Timeless, Time After Time) and family dramas (This Is Us, Speechless), the CW's latest offering, Frequency, literally has it all. Created by Jeremy Carver this genre-bending new show centers on a father-daughter relationship across time. It's approach to how time travel affects one family sets the show apart from the rest of the new pilots this year.
In a few short words, Frequency centers around a girl who, after communicating with her dead father through his old ham radio, alters life around her. Created by Jeremy Carver (of Supernatural fame) the 13-episode show is based on a 16-year-old Dennis Quaid movie, which was a sleeper hit. The pilot, interestingly, has more in common with NBC's This Is Us than any other time-traveling show. This is because both shows make use of parallel running timelines. There's also the nostalgia-filled moments on both shows regarding the time periods. On This Is Us, it's all about the '70s and Frequency takes us back to the '90s — complete with Oasis as our soundtrack and Bill Clinton on the small TV screens.
Its Likable Cast
The show has a very likable cast in the form of lead Peyton List (not to be confused with a Disney actress of the same name), Mekhi Phifer, Riley Smith, Daniel Bonjour and Devin Kelley.
While watching the pilot I was surprised at just how good List was. After taking the lead in the terrible (and thankfully) short-lived Tomorrow People and playing small roles in Mad Men and The Flash, I wasn't really wowed by her performance. It's clear that List has the chops for it; the pilot showcases a lot of emotions, from shock, distrust, elation, confusion to grief and anger, and List pulls all of them off. It can't be easy sitting in front of a radio and getting all teary-eyed and then playing a badass cop the next second, but List shows exactly why she was perfect for playing Raimy Sullivan (the protagonist). Riley Smith (who plays her father) is likable but doesn't have the same charisma List carries. Mekhi Phifer and Daniel Bonjour were both fine in their roles, though (as is usually the case in pilots) they weren't given much to work with. The aging makeup was fine at best, but Mekhi Phifer looked the best in looking 20-years older and younger.
If you're looking for a classic show where characters zip through time, changing events and history in general, stick to Doctor Who (no, NOT Timeless), but if you're into family dramas, murder mystery and time travel, then be sure to give CW's Frequency a try. Where Timeless comes across as a bad Doctor Who rip-off, the CW's Frequency is an soulful, yet hearty drama.
As I write this article, Frequency sits at 8.3 at IMDb and has a score of 71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but since Netflix's incredible web series (i.e) Jessica Jones is also on 8.3 (which is a shame since it's so much better than Daredevil), then it's not too bad of a rating.
If you don't really care for my opinion, then you can read some of the other reviews I found online:
Neil Genzlinger from New York Times, called the season interesting and summarized:
"It’s hard to make an impression in a genre so heavily worked, especially with a series drawn from a moderately popular movie, but 'Frequency' is in good hands and has promising ingredients."
The Guardian's Brian Moylan also gave a positive review writing:
"Somehow, against all odds, 'Frequency' seems to click. What makes 'Frequency' stand out is that it is really a family drama with time travel tacked on."
Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg wrote in regards to List's performance:
"She's earned this shot and her mixture of skepticism, strength and confused emotion is a big part of what will have me watching 'Frequency' for additional episodes.
The general consensus seems to be a mixed (though no one called the show bad or anything, just average) to positive reaction from the critics. Everyone though has praised List's performance and that itself is a pretty good reason to keep watching this show. One criticism I had with some of the reviews were that they called it "predictable" or that they "guessed the twists," something that is absurd given that they'd watched the trailer of the show or the movie, both of which disclosed those twists beforehand. In fact, I took that as the strength of the show, that despite knowing most of what was going to happen (after watching the trailer), I was still hooked!
With an intriguing story, a winning formula and a solid cast, Frequency has all the makings of a great show. CW has a reputation as a teenager-only channel, but with Frequency the CW has finally found a show that can resonate with all audiences. It's such a winning formula that fans of murder mystery, time travel, and family dramas will surely eat it up. Its premise would please Flash fans, especially since Frequency pulls a Flashpoint of its own, far superior to Flash's. It's focus on family is very much like that of This Is Us and its father-daughter across time angle is quite close to Nolan's Interstellar.
While it's clear that it's derived from the best things, time itself isn't as kind to the show as I'd like, considering it has a poor time slot. Still, Frequency is an impacting and powerful show — let's just hope it can stand the test of time.
Looking for other time-travel movies? Check out the list below and make the leap:
What did you think of 'Frequency'?
(Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter)