Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Amstersdam, 1, 2, 3...

You know how devoted I am to time travel - Journeyman, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the time travel in Lost, and my most recent novel, The Plot to Save Socrates. New Amsterdam on Fox isn't quite time travel, but its story of an immortal in New York City has a lot of classic time travel elements in a hero who's been in town, since before it was a town, and continuously since 1642. In the first three episodes, we've already seen some erudite scenes in the Civil War and 1940s - as well as in the present.

I'm also partial to detective fiction - I just finished reviewing The Wire here on Sunday, and, yeah, I've written science fiction detective novels, too, including The Silk Code, The Consciousness Plague, and The Pixel Eye. So much the better, then, that John Amsterdam - the immortal in New Amsterdam - is a smart-talking detective in New York, New York. He's not only sharp, but has, of course, a great and pinpoint accurate historical knowledge. In his centuries he's a been a surgeon in the Civil War, a lawyer and then a soldier in the 1940s, and he also said something about being a history prof at Columbia University.

It's nice touches like this that make New Amsterdam a delight for the intellect. The series also isn't afraid to shock us with details like his old friend, in his 60s, is really John's son, from a woman he loved deeply in the 1940s...

John became immortal when he saved an Native American woman in New York in 1642, was run through with a sword, and she saved his life and blew some substance of immortality into him. John will live forever at age 35, or until he meets his true love, at which point he will start to age normally with the love of his long life.

If this sounds corny, it isn't at all in New Amsterdam. The series has a wisdom as well as a slight bit of CSI slickness, and the mix so far in the first three episodes looks to be just right.

The show also has a poetry - Walt Whitman and the verses of Omar Khayyam have already played roles in the series.

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is just right for John Amsterdam, with an off-English accent which is just what you'd expect of someone who has been around three and a half centuries. Zuleikha Robinson (who played Gaia opposite Ray Stevenson's Pullo in Rome!) as his attractive partner Eva, Stephen Henderson as his 65-year-old son Omar, and Alexie Gilmore as ER-doc Sara, who may be the love of his life, are fine, too.

I'm expecting to stay with New Amsterdam a long time...

See also
4. Poetry and Parenthesis ... 5. Meets Mad Men ... 6. The DNA of Art ... 7. What Kept John from Dying? ... 8. New Amsterdam Bows: Lessons in Cons and Backsides

winner of the Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction novel of 1999

"delivers on its promises" - The New York Times

Silk Code trailer
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