Frequency (Pilot)

Starring: Peyton List, Riley Smith, Mekhi Phifer, Daniel Bonjour, Devin Kelly

Plot: Based on the Dennis Quaid/Jim Caveziel movie, this adaptation sticks pretty close to the source material. Raimy (List) is a police officer who finds a ham radio that connects her back 20 years ago to her dad (Smith) before he’s supposed to die. It would be a short series if she wasn’t able to save his life, so that happens in the pilot. Obviously, the plan for the series is for these two to be able to communicate back and forth with information on each others cases. However, as we learn in the pilot, when things change in the past it affects the future. It’s a little like Timeless, but without any actual time travel.

What Works: Peyton List. It’s hard for me to believe Riley Smith is a cop. He looks like a former male model with a drug problem, instead of a serious police officer. The rest of the supporting cast is basically marginalized in the pilot. But with List, we have a lead we can be invested in. To be fair, I’m not sure if she’s necessarily “cop material” either, but she may prove herself in the next few episodes. I’d praise the plot, but it isn’t an original idea. They’re copying groundwork already laid out. Since the first two episodes seem to just be the movie itself, I don’t know where this series is planning to go long term. We won’t really know until episode 3 or 4, depending on how long they drag out part two. And just like Timeless, having the changes in the past affecting her future adds to the dramatic depth of the show.

What Doesn’t: Smith. As of now, I don’t see him as a serious cop. The underuse of the supporting cast, putting the weight only on List/Smith makes it harder on them. Getting to the Ham radio was rushed. There’s virtually no setup. I feel like we could have spent 15 minutes easily learning who these people are. She didn’t need to save him in the first episode. We could have had a cliffhanger at the end of Episode 1, and found out his fate in the next episode. Exposition would have actually been appreciated here, as this episode hits the ground running too fast. It trips over itself instead. I need to be invested in the characters and their story, and this rushed pilot doesn’t do that for me.

Final Word: I want to see where this series is going to go, in terms of a long-term model. Unlike No Tomorrow, which put an 8 month cap in their pilot, when she saves her father, he still dies 15 years later. That’s not something she can stop right away, and that serves as a “long term” goal that will continue to play out for seasons to come. It’s a smart decision to not save him right away (like he does in the movie) and have the father reunite in present time. I’ll probably come back for a few more episodes, and depending on the quality of those, I’ll figure out if I’m around for the whole season or not. As far as the actual quality of the “pilot”, I don’t think it’s a good pilot. It rushes, marginalizes supporting characters, and fails to give enough information about our lead characters to care about them. However, I’m still somewhat intrigued by the overall structure, but that’s not something they created out of thin air. You can’t give points for concept when the concept isn’t original.

FINAL GRADE: B-

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