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Fox's Second Chance is good enough for starters to deserve one


Rob Kazinsky (center) is the front man of Second Chance. Fox photo

Premiering: Wednesday, Jan. 13th at 8 p.m. (central) on Fox
Starring: Rob Kazinsky, Tim DeKay, Dilshard Vadsaria, Adhir Kalyan, Ciara Bravo, Amanda Detmer, Vanessa Lengies
Produced by: Rand Ravich, Howard Gordon, Don Todd, Brad Turner

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“Much better than expected” still doesn’t cut it as a ringing endorsement. But how about “much, much, better?”

Fox’s Second Chance, premiering on Wednesday, Jan. 11th after the still potent American Idol, is a distant relative of Frankenstein and The Six Million Dollar Man without the scary outward appearances or campy comic book overlay. The first episode takes itself quite seriously and has earned that right. Set in “near-futuristic” Seattle, this is a very well-made pilot episode with an even stronger grip than its high tech lab-created central character.

Jimmy Pritchard (first seen as a decaying 75-year-old played by guest star Philip Baker Hall) is a disgraced ex-sheriff who resigned in 2002 after being charged with witness tampering. Grouchy and living alone, he hits the bottle hard, plays Creedence Clearwater Revival vinyl loud and is visited weekly by a young woman who’s paid to be his “music appreciation” muse among other things.

Jimmy’s straight arrow FBI agent son, Duval (Tim DeKay), has little use for his disagreeable father but still checks in on him. Duval’s teen daughter, Gracie (Ciara Bravo), retains a soft spot for her grand pop -- and him for her. There’s also Duval’s sister, Helen (Amanda Detmer), who’s regularly inebriated.

None of these characters is capable of transforming old Jimmy into a 35-year-old reincarnation played by Rob Kazinsky. But Lookinglass Technologies founder Mary Goodwin (Dilshard Vadsaria) and her dependent twin brother, Otto (Adhir Kalyan), have the resources it takes to turn black the clock after old Jimmy is tossed off a bridge after first being doused with booze to make it look like suicide.

The twins have an ulterior motive beyond giving this series its reason for being. Mary is dying of cancer and Otto would be hopeless without her. But Jimmy’s “very rare genetic precursor” can give both of them new leases on life via his revitalized white blood cells. “This is you going in me,” she tells him while getting an intravenous dose of Jimmy. Down the road, that may qualify as foreshadowing.

It’s all told compellingly on opening night. Young Jimmy is fated to eventually work with his now older son as a crime fighter while also being dependent on a replenishing Lookinglass Technologies la-BOR-atory water tank every 12 hours lest he begin breaking down. Fox publicity materials tease future episodes in which Mary “puts the full power of her corporation at Pritchard’s disposal as he and Duval fight crimes, week to week. Drones and data mining, cars and money. For a man just back from the dead, it is a high-tech toy store with infinite possibilities.”

That also sounds a little same old, same old. Episode 2, built around two escaped murderers and a terrorized, kidnapped little girl, unfortunately shows telltale signs of that while also adding some humor before the hard-core track down kicks in. But Kazinsky remains solid as a newly minted, physically powerful hound dog who still has old Jimmy’s proclivities toward excess but also aims to be a better person than before.

The key will be whether Second Chance can keep from lapsing into a stale weekly catch-a-crook caper or have enough layers of unique duplicity and humanity to resonate as considerably more than that. It so far still deserves the benefit of the doubt, with a compelling opening episode that should leave many viewers in the mood for more.


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