Snap Judgment: 'New Amsterdam' | EW.com

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Snap Judgment: 'New Amsterdam'

Newamsterdam_l

Newamsterdam_lThat Times Square-through-the-ages CGI at the end rocked, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (pictured) sure is pretty. That’s about all I can rave about. Problem is, when I volunteered to cover last night’s debut of the Fox drama, I had no idea that New Amsterdam had almost the exact premise as the novel Forever, by Pete Hamill. A guy gets granted immortality by a vaguely mystical female figure (African-American in the book, Native American on the show) and spends the next few centuries doomed to suffer the woes of immortality, play the piano, prowl Manhattan, and deal with his visible scars… until he finds his One True Love, at which point he’ll win back the option of dying. Sounds ridiculous when I type it out like that. But it’s a good story, I swear! A story that was already written.

For the record, Hamill did speak out in August (the series was originally intended for Fox’s fall season) about how the show basically rips off his novel. Hamill called the commonalities “astonishing,” but fronted a lighthearted attitude about it, claiming “You’ve gotta laugh,” and that he’d rather spend the likely fruitless legal fees on his grandson. New Amsterdam’s executive producer David Manson insisted he was unaware of the book’s existence until production on the show wrapped. I’m not buyin’ it. But I guess I don’t have to. Ultimately, more people will watch the show than have read the book.

All I can say is that I’ll be even more disappointed if NAcontinues to conform to the mold of yet another Caper of the Week copshow. The creators have this potentially mind-blowingimmortality-in-Manhattan theme — already fine-tuned for them bysomeone else — and we’re going to have to sit through modern-dayamnesia victims and boring, standard-issue crime scenes? Moreflashbacks to centuries past, please! That “antique” furniture sale scene was adecent and clever start. If you’re gonna steal someone’s idea, at leastgo the distance and attempt to execute it right.

I should admit that if I hadn’t read Forever, I’d probably think New Amsterdam‘spremiere was cool. As of now, though, I’d rather have read the novelthan keep watching the series. I don’t think I can handle both yet orever; it’s too weird. Just me? Probably! Now snap at me to stop readingbooks and get over it already, and tell me how much you dug thepremiere.

Originally posted March 5 2008 — 2:57 PM EST

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