Snap Judgment: 'New Amsterdam'

Newamsterdam_lThat Times Square-through-the-ages CGI at the end rocked, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (pictured) sure is pretty. That’s about all I can rave about. Problem is, when I volunteered to cover last night’s debut of the Fox drama, I had no idea that New Amsterdam had almost the exact premise as the novel Forever, by Pete Hamill. A guy gets granted immortality by a vaguely mystical female figure (African-American in the book, Native American on the show) and spends the next few centuries doomed to suffer the woes of immortality, play the piano, prowl Manhattan, and deal with his visible scars… until he finds his One True Love, at which point he’ll win back the option of dying. Sounds ridiculous when I type it out like that. But it’s a good story, I swear! A story that was already written.

For the record, Hamill did speak out in August (the series was originally intended for Fox’s fall season) about how the show basically rips off his novel. Hamill called the commonalities "astonishing," but fronted a lighthearted attitude about it, claiming "You’ve gotta laugh," and that he’d rather spend the likely fruitless legal fees on his grandson. New Amsterdam‘s executive producer David Manson insisted he was unaware of the book’s existence until production on the show wrapped. I’m not buyin’ it. But I guess I don’t have to. Ultimately, more people will watch the show than have read the book.

All I can say is that I’ll be even more disappointed if NAcontinues to conform to the mold of yet another Caper of the Week copshow. The creators have this potentially mind-blowingimmortality-in-Manhattan theme — already fine-tuned for them bysomeone else — and we’re going to have to sit through modern-dayamnesia victims and boring, standard-issue crime scenes? Moreflashbacks to centuries past, please! That "antique" furniture sale scene was adecent and clever start. If you’re gonna steal someone’s idea, at leastgo the distance and attempt to execute it right.

I should admit that if I hadn’t read Forever, I’d probably think New Amsterdam‘spremiere was cool. As of now, though, I’d rather have read the novelthan keep watching the series. I don’t think I can handle both yet orever; it’s too weird. Just me? Probably! Now snap at me to stop readingbooks and get over it already, and tell me how much you dug thepremiere.

Comments (51 total) Add your comment
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  • Jennifer

    I read “Forever” a few years ago. When I saw the commerical for “New Amsterdam,” the first thing I thought was, “Oh, they made a tv show based on that book!”

  • Martha

    Since Jennifer’s entry is almost word-for-word what I was going to write, I’ll just say “me, too.” I saw a few minutes of the show last night. Meh.

  • Allie

    I really liked the show last night. It always amazes me that shows like NA and Journeyman get panned in reviews, but L&O and CSI are taking over every moment of air time. It baffles me why people want to watch the same show in different cities. At least these new attempts at procedural dramas have a twist to them.

  • Lol

    it’s lame that the producers didn’t acknoledge the Forever book by Peter Hamill. (Btw, did people like that book?) The show was a bit slow to start but the premise is interesting and so much more imaginaitive than 90% of the other shows on tv. I hope it stays on.

  • Snarf

    Shades of Moonlight, Angel, and Forever Knight (except without Vampires) Made it through 15-20 minutes and was all “meh” and thus endeth muy association with New Amsterdamn. I’ll give you this Annie, your right. He sure is a looker.

  • cimagato

    The hubby watched it last night & told me the storyline. After hearing it, I mentioned that the “immortal” plotline is a nice old chestnut to trot out (Vampires, Heinlein, etc.). He said it was freshly done. Haven’t seen it yet, but the hubby has a good eye. I feel badly for Hamill though, it sounds like more than his generic idea was take, basic plot points were lifted & that’ s a no-no.

  • Lise

    I can not believe this. They are seriously insisting that this show is NOT based on “Forever”?!? I had assumed it was because, um, it’s EXACTLY like the book in premise and details?

  • buffyfan

    After reading this, it’s clear the producers very well could have stolen the show’s premise from the book. Though, I’m surprised no one has noted the storyline also mirror’s another popular show – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Duh. Hottie dude is totally Angel (and David Boreanaz did it better). Cursed immortal, trying to right wrongs, looking for love and purpose that will ultimately kill who he has become. And the Dr. who appears to be his true love (but now knows his secret) is the “Buffy” character. That said, I did enjoy the pilot. The acting needs to improve and the mythology needs to be pumped up, but if they do it right it could be enjoyable.

  • Francisco

    Nice TV show. Has potential. Will the author of Forever receive royalties as a good faith gesture for not suing Fox?

  • JillS

    It’s nothing to worry about. The show won’t be around long. I give it a D-.

  • Mozz

    I think the idea is good, but like copies of an original, it’s just never the same.

  • MC

    I was unaware of the book and don’t really care. There are no new ideas, just rehash and reinterpretation of old ones. I liked the show. Books are almost always better, but its OK to let it go and just enjoy a show.

  • cranky

    It’s so similar to the book that when I saw the show’s promo, I assumed it must be a TV adaptation of the novel. I would be mad if I was the author. It was a fun show, and I’ll probably watch it when i feel the need for a little brain candy.

  • Robyn

    Forever was one of my favorite books. I highly recommend it. I will never watch this show.

  • MrKitty

    Read the book…forget this show, especially since they ripped off Pete Hamill.
    The book is a great read….

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