Tuesday, March 04, 2008

TV premiering tonight: New Amsterdam

One of two new series announced for this season about immortal detectives, New Amsterdam finally limps onto the schedule after the lukewarm response to CBS' Moonlight (which somehow remains on the air), and I can't imagine it'll stay there for long. Fox is dumping all of these midseason holdovers onto the schedule seemingly just to burn them off; all have only a handful of episodes completed pre-strike and aren't in production for more. Amsterdam is a wan combination of police procedural and romantic fantasy, with a lead character who's been made immortal by a "gift" that's more like a curse. He lives forever until he finds his true love, at which point he gets to age normally.

Star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau thus spends most of his time moping about his fate, and his supposed true love doesn't seem particularly interesting or remarkable. The rest of the show involves standard cop-show stuff, with Coster-Waldau's John Amsterdam filling the role of the off-putting, quirky genius who conveniently spots clues that others miss (he's very similar to the main character of NBC's Life). It's mighty convenient that so many elements of the case in the pilot hinge on Amsterdam's knowledge of New York history (he was given eternal life in the city's colonial days), and hard to imagine that the creators can keep that up without it seeming terribly forced.

There's also a really cheesy portrayal of Native American mysticism in the pilot that just adds to the overall weak, basic-cable feel of the show. There's no sci-fi mythology to latch onto for fans of shows like that, and the crime-solving is entirely rote. The show thus manages to be completely undistinguished in multiple genres. Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m. (previews March 4, 9 p.m.; March 6, 9 p.m.)

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