The CW is the perfect home for Frequency, a new television drama based off the 2000 film of the same name. The CW is a network filled with genre TV, from supernatural tales to superhero heroics. With Frequency, we don’t get time travel exactly, but rather a fascinating look at the consequences of changing the past.
The premise is roughly the same as the film — a person communicates with their dead father in the past via a ham radio. This time, we get an NYPD detective Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) who starts communicating with her father Frank Sullivan (Riley Smith) who died in 1996 during an undercover operation that supposedly revealed Frank as a dirty cop. Raimy and Frank’s conversations are running parallel in time to each other — for Raimy, it’s the day before the 20th anniversary of her father’s death, October 22, 2016, and for Frank, it’s the day before a sting is supposed to take place, October 22, 1996 — Raimy figures she can save her father by warning him how he dies. After some confusion and tests to see if Frank and Raimy are actually communicating with each other, mostly done through Raimy explaining how the Yankees baseball games play out, Frank takes measures to survive the sting that goes bad. It’s a close call, but Frank gets away with only a shot to the leg.
That’s the good news for Raimy. Her father survives, and he’s not a dirty cop. At the same time we see Frank survive, Raimy is hit with all her new memories of her father. He was there all throughout her childhood and he was there when she first became a cop. Unfortunately, Frank died in a car accident in 2011, but those new memories are enough for Raimy. But alongside those memories are the old ones from when he died in 1996, both coexisting inside Raimy’s head, and only Raimy’s head.
This is all happening in the very first episode, so it would only make sense that something else has to happen. After all, you can’t change the past without changing the future. In the first version of 2016, Raimy was investigating a 20 year old dead body that was uncovered and was eventually revealed to be a nurse that Raimy’s mother used to work with. Raimy and her partner, Detective Satch Rayna (Mekhi Phifer) decide the body is part of the Nightingale Murders from 1996, a serial killer who killed three nurses. In the new 2016 timeline, that dead body is actually Raimy’s mother. Through her new memories, Raimy recalls seeing the previous nurse run into Raimy’s mother while they visited Frank in the hospital. This one little meeting changes everything, and sets the story for the rest of this first season — catch the killer and save her mother, with the help of her dad still in 1996.
Messing with time is always confusing, but Frequency handles the different times by jumping back and forth from 1996 and 2016 seamlessly. Sometimes, we see 1996 through Raimy’s memories. Other times, we’re with Frank. The different perspectives often go from one to the other, giving the show an almost dream-like quality. But this isn’t any dream, and the consequences of Raimy saving her dad are going to be the forefront of this show.
Raimy’s mother is just one consequence of this new timeline. The other one is the discovery that her boyfriend of two years, Daniel (Daniel Bonjour), no longer knows who she is (most likely because it was her mother who introduced them). This will probably be the B-story of the season, but it does allow us to question just what other consequences will there be? By trying to save her mother, will Raimy change something else? How much will she change? How many different memories will she remember? Will she eventually confer with Ashton Kutcher about the annoying confusion of time travel? Only time will tell.
Just a quick note — the show runner is Jeremy Carver, who was responsible for bringing Supernatural back to form during its 8th season. He has continued to keep the show refreshing, despite it entering its 12th season. Make of that what you will.
Frequency airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. CT. Check back here for forthcoming reviews. I’m a sucker for anything time travel, and Frequency is looking like it will deliver.