Frequency review

The word “remake” is sometimes met with automatic groans, but 2000’s Frequency is exactly the right candidate for a remake. The premise is intriguing, and the film itself got solid reviews, but it’s not really a classic by any measure. It wasn’t a box office hit in its time, and even though there are plenty of people who’ve seen and enjoyed it, Frequency doesn’t have any kind of devoted fandom. What it does have is a great premise that deserves another chance to shine, and The CW is more than happy to give it one. 

The CW’s Frequency centers on Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List), a 28-year-old living in modern-day Queens. Her life all seems to be in order: she’s got a great job as an NYPD detective, a handsome boyfriend who seems eager to propose, and a loving mother who lives close by. The only thing missing in her life is her father Frank (Riley Smith), a cop who died 20 years ago during an undercover assignment that exposed him as a dirty cop. But when she stumbles across an old ham radio in her mother’s garage, she sparks an unexpected connection with a mysterious voice calling himself “Frank from Queens.” Raimy eventually realizes he is her father, speaking to her from 20 years in the past – and, unbeknownst to him, from just days before his death.

Frequency takes a little while to get going. In its early scenes it feels too much like every other cop drama we’ve seen, particularly since Raimy, while pleasant enough, doesn’t have much of a personality at this point. Frank is clearly still a sore spot for her, and Raimy spends much of the first 15 talking about how she doesn’t want to talk about him. Similarly, Frank seems like a nice enough guy, but we aren’t given any good reason to care about him other than the fact that Raimy does. Frequency, at least in its pilot episode, is more about plot than characters, which may be why it seems eager to reiterate its own premise and spell out its core relationships again and again.

Thankfully, the show finally gets clicking when Raimy and Frank make contact and begin testing each other and their supernatural connection. At its best, the show can be downright bittersweet. “You’re older than me,” Frank marvels at one point. Later in the same conversation, he cheers her job with the police force, gushing, “In 20 years I’m going to be on the job with my daughter.” It’s left up to Raimy to break the terrible news that in actuality, he’s mere hours away from his own demise.

It’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that Raimy tries to circumvent Frank’s fate, or that her efforts have unexpected consequences. Frequency‘s first episode does exactly what first episodes are supposed to do: spin an intriguing story while leaving you curious abuot what happens next. Frequency‘s biggest weakness right now is how generic the characters and their universe feel, but its greatest strength is a genuinely engaging concept that should keep audiences coming back while the show figures the rest of it out.

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