The CW’s supernatural crime drama Frequency, based on the 2000 movie of the same name, sticks pretty true to its source material, which is why it’s so disappointing that the central relationship between father and daughter is so poorly fleshed out. Frequency has the potential to be an engaging police drama with a strong female lead, but when it comes to character development and emotional depth, Frequency comes up short, lacking the nostalgic sentimentality of its big-screen counterpart.
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A Female Cop with Daddy Issues
Detective Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) is an up-and-coming homicide detective. Her deceased father, NYPD officer Frank (Riley Smith), was killed in 1996 during an undercover investigation when Raimy was just 8 years old. Twenty years later, Raimy tells her boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bonjour) that dad was dirty. Her memories of Frank consist primarily of him leaving. Frank spent the two years prior to his death estranged from his family and communicating with his daughter by leaving gifts for her buried in an old coffee can in the yard.
Beside the fact that Raimy’s character in the film is male, this is in stark contrast to the close bond shared by father and son in the movie version. In the film, police detective John Sullivan (played by Jim Caveizel) had an idyllic upbringing in Queens, NY with a firefighter father Frank (Dennis Quaid) who took chances on the job but was devoted to his wife and son, playing catch in the yard and throwing parties to watch the 1969 World Series. Even John’s memories are imbued with a golden hue while Raimy’s are grey. It was only after Frank was killed on the job that John’s life took a darker turn as he spent the rest of his life struggling with the loss.
Raimy doesn’t remember her father with such nostalgic affection, but she also has serious daddy issues, mainly due to the shame of his tainted career and the abandonment she felt both when he left to go undercover and his subsequent death. But because no time is spent establishing some kind of loving bond between Raimy and John (aside from a brief montage) when they mysteriously reconnect via an old ham radio her father used to talk on when he was alive, viewers aren’t emotionally invested in their reunion.
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A Supernatural Twist
Thanks to your everyday mundane meteorological occurrence, Raimy is able to communicate with Frank who is alive and well back in October of 1996. The series begins to jump back and forth, showing what Frank was going through in the 48 hours prior to his death, and Raimy’s attempt to save his life from 20 years in the future.
While Raimy tries to learn more about what happened the night Frank died, she’s also working a 20-year-old case involving the killing of several nurses known as the “Nightingale Murders.” A body has been found that has ties to the decades-old case. The killer mysteriously stopped after three victims, so the case remains unsolved.
But Raimy learns that you can’t rewrite history without some repercussions. Frank cheating death sets into motion a series of events that change the course of Raimy’s entire life and not all for the better. Raimy is also left with the memories of her previous life while trying to sort out her new normal which still doesn’t include Frank.
One glaring inconsistency is that while Raimy is inundated with new memories regarding Frank, other significant changes in her life don’t immediately register as well.
The pilot feels rushed as if it has to race through the pesky detail of keeping Frank alive to move on to bigger business. The remainder of the season will likely shed light on lingering questions surrounding Frank’s bogus sting operation, especially since his partner Lieutenant Satch Reyna (Mekhi Phifer) has been Raimy’s mentor and father figure, and the Deputy Chief of Police (Anthony Ruivivar) was in charge of the shady investigation that originally got Frank killed are still in the picture. Raimy and Frank will also be working together to stop the Nightingale murderer who is functioning simultaneously in the past and present.
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Making Frank a police officer as opposed to a firefighter was a smart way to give Frequency the possibility for longevity, and changing the lead to a female shifts the protagonists’ personal dynamic. Fathers tend to be more protective of their daughters, plus it should be interesting to watch Frank reconcile the differences between his relationship with the grown, self-reliant Raimy, and the young girl who still exists in his present reality. Raimy being a woman also makes the show more appealing to a female audience.
The CW has faith that Peyton List (The Tomorrow People) has what it takes to helm a series, but the breakout star of Frequency is Riley Smith (The Messengers) who really embodies his role as a cop beaten down by the job, especially at such a young age (He’s younger than Raimy). Frank wasn’t as one dimensional as his daughter believed him to be, and he was tortured by the distance his job put between himself and his family, particularly Raimy.
Outside of the leads, the other characters are all incredibly underdeveloped. Raimy’s best guy pal from childhood, Gordo (Lenny Jacobson) appears to be barely a blip on Raimy’s emotional radar, and her relationship with her mother Julie (Devin Kelley), with whom she is supposed to be incredibly close, is even more underdeveloped than her connection to Frank.
Now that Frequency’s complex premise has been laid out, the series should devote more time to developing meaningful connections between its main characters.
Also, the promise that Frank and Raimy will continue to change the course of history promises constant chaos and upheaval for not just Raimy but those closest to her. The Butterfly Effect implications are overwhelming.
Frequency has the components to be a success, it just needs some time to work out the few kinks that stands in its way.
Are you eager to check out the season premiere of Frequency? Are you a fan of the film? Does Frequency’s supernatural premise have staying power? Let us know if you think this show could be The CW’s next hit in the comments section below.
Frequency premieres Wednesday, October 5 at 9/8c. Want more news? Follow our Frequency page on Facebook.
(Image Courtesy of The CW)