WHAT IT’S ABOUT Disgraced 75-year-old L.A. County police chief Jimmy Pritchard (Philip Baker Hall, in a quickie guest shot) is thrown off a bridge by people trying to rob the home of his son, Duval (“White Collar’s” Tim DeKay). Jimmy’s not dead for long: Biotech czarina Mary Goodwin (Dilshad Vadsaria — Padma from “Revenge”), with the help of her genius bro, Otto (Adhir Kalyan), bring him back to life, by floating him in a huge tub of water, then subjecting him to some high-tech wizardry. Jimmy (now played by Rob Kazinsky) comes back younger, and even has super-strength. He’s ready to fight crime, except he has to return to the tub now and then for a recharge.
MY SAY John Landgraf, the programming chief of FX, made quite a stir last summer when he said that by 2016 there’d be a million scripted series on TV. OK — an exaggeration. Closer to 400, even if it can sometimes feel like a million. Yet just while everyone has overpopulation on their minds, along comes “Second Chance.” Not a bad show. Not a great one either. Good, attractive cast. Decent production values. Easy to grasp high-concept handle — plus bonus points for super-strength.
The punchline unfortunately comes as a question: SO WHAT? Lots of series meet these criteria. The challenge in these crowded times is to stand out by accomplishing something extraordinary, or — failing that — at least adapt a hugely popular book series or classic TV one.
Instead, “Second Chance” gives us Kazinsky’s Pritchard, with his bulging biceps, raffish grin and charisma — except when he’s floating in that vat of water, looking like a whacked-out Pillsbury Doughboy. Amusing image, sure, but “amusing” was probably not the intention.
It’s a shame Hall comes and goes so quickly. Iconic TV (and movie) actors are another way to stand out, although Hall, at 85, probably has other ideas of fun that don’t include lounging around a sound stage for 12 hours a day. Nevertheless, he still sets up the series nicely — and shrewdly — in his few moments on-screen. Slumping in his chair, the whisky rolling around his glass, his world-weary glaze-over is the look of someone who’s seen it all — or maybe seen too many shows like this one.
Come back, Philip! Your show needs you.
BOTTOM LINE Kazinsky gives this some spark. Otherwise, it can feel like a ’70s cop show brought back from — you guessed it! — the dead.