Take Me to the Pilots '16: The CW's 'Frequency'

Peyton List is good, the makeup is awful and it's unclear how this drama works as a weekly show.
Bettina Strauss/The CW
Peyton List of 'Frequency'

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: Frequency (The CW)
The Pitch: "How much brand equity do you think this movie made before much of our core demo was born has for our core demo?" "Very little, but we're also going to change the brand so that viewers who *do* know the movie will feel even older."
Quick Response: The CW has made lots of cosmetic changes to the 2000 film Frequency, all of which make sense, even if I don't love them. Swapping in a father-daughter dynamic for father-son (without initially exploring how those relationships are different) basically makes it a CW show and gives Peyton List a well-earned lead role, and reducing the age gap bridged by the magical ham radio from 30 to 20 years keeps The CW audiences from experiencing anything as old as the 1980s and turns 1996 into a point of nostalgia, which made me feel ancient. Even still, Frequency feels off-brand for The CW, since it doesn't involve superheroes, vampires or comedically quirky young women. The pilot is OK. It gets to the point quickly and gets to the time-travel paradoxes fast, so fast that I don't know how it sustains for very long as a weekly show. Will it be weekly augmentations of a timeline as List's Raimy tries to fix the present after messing with the past while still helping solve past crimes or something? Dunno, but as with NBC's Timeless, there's a good emotional punch to the last act and I was more interested in sticking with it after Minute 42 than I was after Minute 22, which isn't a bad sign. List is strong and, after being really annoying on Nashville, and Riley Smith is fine as her father. Mekhi Phifer, who at one point you might have thought of as a "big" name, is both wasted as a non-character, but also covered in some dreadful makeup. Reducing the ham-radio time gap gave the show the impunity to let several actors play their characters at different ages and in each case, the makeup work is shoddy and distracting. Oh, and like Timeless, it's another new time-travel show with shades of NBC's short-lived Journeyman, making me wonder why nobody got Journeyman creator Kevin Falls to run any of these new offerings (he's on Pitch instead).
Desire to Watch Again: Moderate. I won't stick with all of the season's new time-travel shows, but I'll stick with a couple and I'll need more episodes from each to decide. Frequency need to establish its regular weekly engine and needs to do away with the dismal makeup, and then it could have some potential.

Take Me to the Pilots '16: Fox's 'Lethal Weapon'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: CBS' 'Bull'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: NBC's 'Timeless'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: ABC's 'Speechless'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: The CW's 'No Tomorrow'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: Fox's 'Pitch'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: CBS' 'Kevin Can Wait'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: NBC's 'The Good Place'
Take Me to the Pilots '16: ABC's 'Designated Survivor'
All of My 2015 Take Me to the Pilots Entries

 

 

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