This article previously appeared on Crossfader.
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
ABC has recently made some waves for DOWNWARD DOG, the rare network show that almost everyone agrees doesn’t suck. As such, I was just a tad bit more hopeful than usual while booting up the pilot to SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, a mystery-thriller adaptation of the award-winning Korean miniseries GOD’S GIFT: 14 DAYS. America doesn’t have the strongest track record with retooling East Asian properties for the audiences in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, but in general, I believe television adaptations have a stronger chance of being palatable: more time to develop and shake up characters, more time to tease out the implications of any adjustments made for cultural reasons, etc. ABC hasn’t exactly screwed the pooch with their latest, but the age-old adage of having so many other, better things to watch still rings true here.
Paula Patton plays Laura Price, a TV news producer who’s currently preoccupied with a serial killer running loose on the streets of San Francisco. Her husband, Tom (J.R. Bourne), is the state district attorney, currently bringing to justice who he and the governor believe is responsible for the spate of murders: the intellectually disabled Danny Jackson (Noel Johansen). Danny’s family believes that he’s innocent, including former police-detective-turned-private-investigator Nico (Devon Sawa), who begins snooping around the Prices’ happy home. One day while driving her daughter, Serena (Aria Birch), home, Paula stops in the house of a psychic who predicts that a horrible fate will soon befall them. Whaddya know; a few days later, Serena is abducted as Laura’s about to run an expose on the killer. Serena’s presumed dead after a shoe of hers washes ashore, which prompts Laura to commit suicide; however, Laura wakes up eight days in the past, with Serena still very much alive. Realizing she’s stuck in a time loop, Laura must work to reach a scenario that leaves Serena alive.
C’mon, this could be Rashida Jones
Both mildly in its favor and less mildly against it, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN is officially A Lot. So much information is dumped onto us in the first 20-or-so minutes that things begin to feel downright schizophrenic. And in some ways, they are. SOMEWHERE BETWEEN doesn’t quite feel like it knows what story it wants to tell and how it plans to do so. Well, OK, yes, we know from the promotional materials and pilot that it aims to tell the story of a mother desperately trying to alter fate to save her daughter. Unfortunately, setting up the future narrative arc of the series in this manner feels almost obligatory as presented here. After watching the pilot, I’m much more invested and informed on the potential mistrial of Danny Jackson than I am in Laura’s time loop, and that’s just not the way it should be. Laura and Serena literally stop in the psychic’s house on a lark! Why not think of a more smooth and cohesive way of introducing these plot elements instead of wasting time on showing Nico’s womanizing and trying to shoehorn in a subplot of the mob chasing him?
On that note, however, it’s hard to claim that the show ever drags, which is happening with more frequency as television gets progressively more long-winded under the tyrannical hand of “prestige.” Even if it’s incredulous disbelief I’m feeling instead of boredom, it’s better than being bored! Serena’s favorite musician, Jesse, is heavily present in the opening act or so before we’re informed in a two-second news bulletin that he’s been killed in a car crash! Serena meets the mildly disabled Ruby (played by the non-disabled Imogen Tear, one of the most offensive TV tropes, in my opinion) and they bond over their shared love of Jesse, and before we know it there’s a sloppily edited sequence of dance and fun as Serena escapes her house to accompany Ruby to her school, with none of the responsible adults present caring to mention that an unaccompanied eight-year-old has appeared out of nowhere and is cutting a rug! Laura and Serena spend all of three minutes in the psychic’s house, are told they’re going to suffer a horrible fate, and get the Hell out of Dodge like it’s nobody’s business! Had no one on the writing staff heard of pacing?
If you put a gun to my head I’d have to admit that there’s certainly a lot of potential paths for SOMEWHERE BETWEEN to weave its way down in future episodes, partly because of its staggering amount of hastily introduced shades of story, but the rules are not firmly locked down enough to assure me that things won’t just become arbitrary, muddled, and confusing. Does every character get their reset button hit every time Laura loops? Are new secondary and tertiary characters going to be regularly introduced in droves as Laura attempts to get to the bottom of things? For God’s sake, will they save Jesse??? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but what I do know is that despite a handful of commendable performances, I’m not confident enough in any theoretical returns to find out. Paula Patton is a commendable lead, demonstrating a competent grasp on emotion despite constantly reminding me of Rashida Jones to the point that it’s mildly distracting. Aria Birch also demonstrates the propensity of a future shining star, as bright, lovable, and precocious as the writing makes her character. In addition, Devon Sawa turns in a game run as Jesse Pinkman-lite, just charming enough to make you periodically forget there’s no real justification for the inclusion of his character.
C’mon, this could be Aaron Paul
At the end of the day, you could certainly do much worse than SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, but c’mon folks, by now, you should know that you could do much, much better. The actual meat at SOMEWHERE BETWEEN’s core, Laura’s ability to traverse time, is premiered far too late to land with any sense of wonder, intrigue, or impact. It’s unexpected to not establish this as the inciting incident, but perhaps in this case, playing it a little closer to the tropes of the chest would have been an improvement. In addition, if there is some overarching conspiracy that’s going to developed, it’s not even remotely teased here, which doesn’t bode well for the presumable reveals of the next few weeks. But hey, at least we’ll have DOWNWARD DOG for as long as it lasts.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN airs on Mondays on ABC