‘Second Chance’ Premiere Review: Frankencop Lives!

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Two things drew me to FOX’s latest drama/crime procedural “Second Chance,” if I’m being honest. One was the premise, which I admittedly got somewhat confused- but I’m glad I did, as it was way more interesting than what I had in mind, which was that a cop was killed when he got too close to finding out who committed a crime and was brought back using unconventional means- kind of like a combination of “Frankenstein” and “Robocop.”

Instead, it turned out that it was about a retired sheriff named Ray Pritchard (Phillip Baker Hall, best-known for his work with Paul Thomas Anderson, notably “Hard Eight”), who was accused of planting evidence and tampering with witnesses and was let go in disgrace and who accidentally stumbles upon men ransacking his son’s office when they think the house is empty. They knock him out and take him to a local bridge and promptly toss him off it, faking his suicide to keep him quiet.

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Next thing he knows, he’s waking up at the house of the Goodwins, media moguls who own a social media empire. This leads me to my other reason for watching the show: star Dilshad Vadsaria, who I first discovered on the ABC Family show “Greek.” Stunningly gorgeous and enormously talented, I always hoped she would get the hit she deserved, but despite turns on “Revenge” and guest spots on the likes of “Bones” and “Murder in the First,” as well as the occasional big-screen role in movies like “30 Minutes or Less” and “Rapture,” fame has proved elusive.

Of course, it’s nothing new that actresses of a certain ethnic background have struggled to find juicy roles, but in “Second Chance,” I’m happy to say she has indeed landed one in Mary Goodwin, the head of Looking Glass Technology, a woman who also happens to be dying of incurable cancer. Having built her company from the ground up with the help of her introverted and anti-social brother, Otto (Adhir Kalyan, “Rules of Engagement”), she’s now at a personal standstill because of her condition.

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Knowing that her brother will never be able to function without her, and will retreat entirely into his own mind and withdraw from society altogether, she begrudgingly allows him to attempt a last-ditch effort to save her. It seems that her brother has figured out a way to harvest cells from “A Suitable Donor,” as per the title of this episode, and it just so happens that Ray Pritchard fits the bill. So, without her approval, Otto secures his body, submerges it in a water tank and begins the process of “regenerating” Ray’s body.

Thus, instead of my initial interpretation, we have something far more interesting: someone not only brought back from the dead, but made younger, stronger and more vital than ever, while still retaining all the knowledge they had from their advanced years. There is, of course, a catch- Ray only has about twelve hours before he has to be taken back to the water tank for more “regeneration.” If he doesn’t, he could die again- and, of course, so could Mary without him.

Though we do indeed have a close call in that department in the premiere, ultimately Ray is able to help his son solve the case of his death and return to the Goodwin home just in the nick of time, with a little help from a drone! Of course, this is all easier said than done, as Ray discovers his death has been ruled a suicide, and thus, no one is even looking into it as a murder.

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As such, he secures the necessary evidence he needs with Mary’s help and approaches his son, Duval (Tim DeKay, “White Collar”), giving it to him under the auspices of being a “friend” of his father, knowing full well he’d never believe he was actually Ray himself. Instead, he adopts the new persona of Jimmy (now played by Robert Kazinsky, of “True Blood” in his younger guise).

Unfortunately, Duval is hesitant to believe him anyway, as the person Ray is accusing is none other than his partner, John Strayburn (Derek Webster, “The Whispers”), who even went so far as to help carry Ray’s casket after his death at the funeral!

Needless to say, the reason Duval has been faltering in figuring out who is behind a series of high-money robberies is because his own partner has been actively combating his finding out. But research proves that Ray’s evidence is correct and he goes to his chief with the info.

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However, Ray didn’t take into consideration that the corruption might not stop with Strayburn, and it turns out that the chief is in on it as well, and tells his agent to take care of it, meaning a trip to that fateful bridge is in order for Duval as well. Thankfully, Ray realizes his mistake and rushes to his son’s defense, knocking out Strayburn and his cohort and saving the day before taking off, despite Duval’s protests and getting back to the Goodwins just in the nick of time to save himself.

So, all’s well that ends well, though Ray has clearly got to work on his timing. Likewise, any hope that he might be able to disappear into the ether after helping his son goes out the widow after his son starts researching the man who helped save his bacon, starting with the license plate number of the old-school bad-ass muscle car that Mary gifted Ray with, courtesy of her late father.

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Understandably thinking Ray, aka Jimmy, might be the illegitimate son of his father, given his seemingly unknowable knowledge of certain personal things, it’s clear that Duval isn’t going to be letting this go, and obviously that car is going to lead straight back to the Goodwins, assuming they can’t cover it up somehow.

It’s entirely possible they might, though, if that scene where Mary managed to contact Ray via the internet while he was hooking up with old call girl flame Bettina (the exceptionally-easy-on-the-eyes in her own right Nicky Whelan, of “Matador”) is any indication.

All in all, a fun ride, even if it cut a few corners in order to compress the action into forty-five minutes or so. Of course, that’s par for the course for a show like this, so I can’t say I was surprised by it. The real question is where do they go from here, moving forward? From the looks of the preview, Ray isn’t done helping out his son, in terms of fighting crime, and it looks like Mary will be assisting him in doing so.

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That means, from here on out, the show will likely become more of a standard crime procedural, though there were glimpses of something else interesting going on underneath the surface which might bode well for its future. One can only hope.

Either way, the cast is solid and also includes Amanda Detmer (“Necessary Roughness”), as Ray’s off-the-rails daughter, Helen; Ciara Bravo (“Red Band Society”) as his granddaughter Gracie; and Vanessa Lengies (“Glee”) as Mary’s personal assistant and right-hand woman, Alexa, who is one of the few to know about her real condition.

As a big fan of Vadsaria, it would be nice to see her land a hit, especially in the wake of another longtime favorite, Meagan Good, failing to ignite much success in her own bid at a FOX series, the underrated “Minority Report.” It’s always a welcome development when a show with an ethnically diverse cast hits the big-time, i.e. “Quantico,” most recently; so, here’s hoping this does the trick for Vadsaria, because she’s a keeper, IMHO.

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What did you think of “Second Chance”? Was it interesting enough to keep you watching in the future? Or was it not your cup of tea? Do you think there’s room for improvement? What direction would you like to see the show go in, moving forward? Did you like the cast? Do you have a favorite character, as of yet? What did you think of the general premise? Sound off on this and more down below, and I’ll be back for a check-in on down the line, assuming the show sticks around long enough. Fingers crossed!