Yet Another Immortal Detective

As if the television sprites were reading this blog last week and decided to grant my wish, Fox has finally actually started airing episodes of New Amsterdam. As I said in a comment on my last post, I found it very interesting this summer when they started advertising both this show and Moonlight at the same time. Immortals have become trendy again.

Last night was the first episode of the show, and if it seems like I’m writing about it awfully early in the game, well, it is a Fox show, so I’d better talk about it now before it gets cancelled, eh? It is definitely a show that fits in well with the “angsty immortals with relationship issues” genre. Which, I should emphasize, is not to say that it’s a bad show in any way; I actually quite liked it. But it was amusing to me that, even though this show is not about a vampire, it neatly sets the stage for a hefty focus on relationships quite early.

It turns out, you see, that John Amsterdam was made immortal by a Native American shaman back in the early colonial days, so that he would remain alive until he found “the one, and your souls are bound together.” So for the last 400 years, he’s been living in New York, looking for his true love, which, as his friend puts it, really means that he’s looking for his death. Amsterdam seems very tired of living forever, and when he ends up having a heart attack near the beginning of the episode and technically dies for a little while, his friend says he looks actually happy for the first time in a long time. This is apparently supposed to mean that his true love was nearby for the first time, presumably to get the overarching plot rolling.

Fun details: Amsterdam is currently a homicide detective, (“Death fascinates me,”) and his ability to track down clues is greatly aided by his having been around for pretty much all of New York’s development.

Q: How did you know this underground club was here?
A: It used to be a speakeasy in the ’20s.
Q: And why do you know that?
A: (distractedly) I used to drink here.

It helps that no one ever believes him when he mentions things he did in his “past” lives. It seems he has known or known of every important figure in the city’s history, from politicians to sports figures to artists. He also has a very neat time-lapsed photography wall of the same scene in downtown New York photographed every year since he got a camera. He’s shown still using the same camera for this year’s photo, so the picture quality is always the same, only the scene changes.

At one point, he was renowned as a carpenter who made fantastic wooden desks, which are now very pricey collectible antiques. He now makes “counterfeits” of his own work for his friend to sell at exorbitant rates.

Antique dealer: Where did you find this?!
Friend: Goodwill.
Antique dealer: You must be the luckiest man alive.

As an important difference from the Highlander series immortals, John Amsterdam is actually a normal human, has no other supernatural abilities besides his immortality, and, from the preview for the next show and comments he made in this one, can apparently father children.

(As an amusing bit of synchronicity, Mark just started playing Lost Odyssey, which also features an angsty immortal exploring all the ways living forever can be a painful ordeal, especially when he recalls all his past wives and children.)

-posted by Dana

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