Pilot: Frequency

Of the three new shows I’m trying this fall, Frequency was the biggest question mark. Not just because I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but also because I wasn’t even 100% sure what it was going to look like week-to-week. All I knew was that it had a premise reminiscent of Awake and I loved Awake, so, let’s give it a shot!

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Good ol’ orange and blue!

Frequency is about Raimy Sullivan, a 28-year-old cop whose undercover-cop dad died 20 years ago. Thanks to a lightning strike hitting an antenna, however, she finds herself able to talk to him over his old radio in a weird sort of parallel-timelines thing. Naturally, this leads to time travel shenanigans, but the pilot ends before the ramifications of this can fully be explored. It’s pretty much just a premise pilot, except it doesn’t even finish establishing the premise, so there are a lot of questions in the air about what the show will actually be like in later episodes.

Despite those questions, though, the premiere was pretty solid. Raimy is a pretty blank slate of a character, but Peyton List has a good charisma that makes her compelling anyway. That’s actually kind of true of the whole episode: it’s constructed in a way that’s very basic, not particularly exciting or different, but the execution is strong enough that it’s enjoyable anyway.

But the thing that I really like about Frequency is the time travel rules it set up. The radio is sort of like a fixed line, so that it’s always the same date and time when Raimy and her dad talk over it, just 20 years apart. This way, when things in the past change the future, it’s not a “we’ve jumped back to the future and now everything’s different” sort of thing, but a “things have changed right around me” thing. It’s just a bit different from how time travel is usually handled and I dig it.

What’s also cool is that unlike most time travel stories, Raimy actually gets the appropriate memories for the new timeline mixed in with her old memories (although they don’t always come easily). It’s an interesting wrinkle that should allow the show to bypass the “character trying to suss out what’s new” stuff that’s kind of played out, especially if it gets heavy on the timeline alteration.

Other than that, though, there’s not a lot for me to talk about. It feels like Frequency still needs a few more episodes to really show what it’s about (looking it up, the first episode only gets about halfway through the plot of the movie it’s based on). I’m hoping it’ll be something cool, but it’s too early to tell.

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