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'Forever' review: 'Castle,' with a twist

A scene from the pilot episode of "Forever."

A scene from the pilot episode of "Forever." Credit: ABC / K.C. Bailey

THE SHOW "Forever"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Monday night at 10 on ABC/7, then airs in its regular time slot, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Poor Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd -- pronounced Yo-an Griffith) can't stay dead. When he does die, it's only for a minute -- then he finds himself alive again (and naked) in the East River.

Alive 200 years now, he wants to end this cycle, if only because of the unending sadness of seeing loved ones grow old and die, while he stays forever young. Working at New York's Medical Examiner's office, he seeks the clues for mortality, and they are not hard to find there. Only one friend, Abe (Judd Hirsch), knows his secret, but can offer little guidance.

Then, one night, while on a subway car, he briefly dies again, when another train slams into the one he's riding on. Det. Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza) wants to know what he was doing on the car. And how he survived.

MY SAY "Forever" is holding one major face card, and it's got quite a face on it, indeed. Ioan Gruffudd is preposterously attractive, outlandishly charming, and the camera almost literally swoons over him. Shows have certainly survived on less, much less, but should "Forever" in fact succeed, you now have your answer why. With "Law & Order's" De la Garza in the mix, "Forever" actually has two potent face cards. (Placed in the screen frame at the same time, the camera almost literally faints.)

The show? Think "Castle" along with what the trade calls a "high-concept twist." (Immortality...) It's all largely inoffensive, intellectually unchallenging, somewhat morbid (he dies at least three times in the pilot), while the mystery of his undying is passably interesting.

"Forever" isn't betting the future on plot mechanics, however, but on chemistry and that obscure object of desire called "sex appeal." These leads have it -- in spades.

BOTTOM LINE "Castle" with a twist and a pair of hugely attractive leads.


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