'Frequency': How Will The CW's Remake Compare to the Movie?

THR looks back at the 2000 Dennis Quaid-Jim Caviezel thriller to see what changes The CW made to the story for its new drama series.
New Line Cinema; The CW; Photofest

Even the most passionate fans of the 2000 film Frequency will find something to be surprised by in The CW's upcoming remake.

The freshman drama series, premiering in October, is based on the movie of the same name that follows Detective John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) as he discovers he can talk to his deceased father Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) via ham radio. Together, although separated by 20 years, they forge a new connection and solve a serial murder case. But The CW series is putting a fresh spin on the old movie by gender-bending the lead role. Peyton List (Mad Men) is taking on Caviezel's part, turning NYPD Detective John Sullivan into NYPD Detective Raimy Sullivan.

But that's not the only change The CW is making as Frequency heads to the small screen. The Hollywood Reporter took a closer closer look at all the differences between the series premiere and the movie (note: ending spoilers are not included). 

Structure

While the movie plays out in a linear fashion, starting from point A and ending at point Z, the TV series is a little different. The pilot episode is structured in medias res, beginning in the middle of the story with Raimy confessing everything weird that has been going on with her late father Frank (Riley Smith) to her boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bonjour). The episode then goes back to the beginning to catch the audience up to that point. 

Science

While neither the movie nor the TV series explicitly explain the science behind the reason why John and Raimy can speak to their father 20 years in the past, both versions do try and offer up a theory. In the movie, the Aurora Borealis is seen in the sky over NYC throughout the entire story, potentially powering the ham radio. Whereas in the TV show, a lightning bolt strikes the ham radio tower during a storm, turning on the broken radio for the first time in 20 years. John, Raimy and both versions of Frank never do try to figure out the science behind the ham radio, instead focusing on staying alive and solving an important case before the radio stops working for good. 

Legacy

The movie was a lot more straightforward with how John felt about his late father. Frank Sullivan died in a warehouse fire when he was 8 years old, and so while he didn't have very many memories of his father, he still thought of him as a good man. That's why he tried so hard to convince Frank of who he was, so he could warn him about the fire and save his life. Raimy, however, grew up thinking of Frank in a very different light. The TV series changed Frank's profession from firefighter to NYPD detective, and two years before his death, he went undercover. He died while on a sting, and Raimy (along with everyone else that knew him) believed he died a dirty cop. That's why Raimy's second chance to try and save her father via the ham radio is such a game-changer: He can finally tell her the truth about what he was up to and save his own legacy. 

Family

The family connections are a bit different from the movie to the TV show. In the movie, Frank and his wife Julia Sullivan (Elizabeth Mitchell) are blissfully happy together, even in times of hardship. But in the show, because of Frank's time spent undercover, he and his wife Julie Sullivan (Devin Kelley) split up because of the strain it puts on their marriage. As for John, his girlfriend leaves him at the beginning of the movie whereas Raimy is about to get engaged to her boyfriend at the start of the series. 

Details

While those are the four biggest changes from the big screen to the small screen, there are many smaller details that are different as well. When Raimy is trying to convince Frank over the ham radio that she's his daughter from the future, he accidentally burns the top of the radio with his cigar in shock. In the movie, Frank accidentally burns the desk the radio is sitting on. In the show, Frank always left presents buried for Raimy in the backyard, whereas in the movie, Frank leaves something for John underneath a loose board in the window seat of their home. But despite these smaller differences, The CW's Frequency looks to be on track to tell the story of the 2000 movie, just on a slower timeline.

Frequency premieres Wednesday, October 5 at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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