There's no such thing as an original idea, so the saying goes. But sometimes, that's not a bad thing. Producer J.J. Abrams took the mind-bending sci-fi elements he loved about The Twilight Zone and incorporated them into ABC's Lost -- which only went on to become the epic TV show of a generation.
The producers of Fox's new reincarnation-themed show, Past Life, are also working in well-traveled story territory and co-opting tried-and-true TV formulas. Whether the show will come off feeling rejuvenated or recycled is yet to be seen. (A special preview episode airs tonight, 9 p.m. ET; the series premiere is Thursday, 8 p.m. ET)
Past Life is part sci-fi: Dr. Kate McGinn (Kelli Giddish), a winsome pychologist with a passing resemblance to Michelle Pfeiffer, helps patients who experience "memories" from a past life. When a person dies, says McGinn, his or her soul shifts into another body, but if the old soul is troubled, the new person will be afflicted with flashbacks and visions. Through "regression therapy," McGinn gets to the bottom of what's troubling the patient -- who may have been the victim of a violent crime in a past life. The shape-shifting is reminiscent of Fox's Fringe; the idea of a paranormal specialist solving mysteries recalls shows like CBS's Medium.
And Past Life aslo has a "crime-solving team" element: McGinn hires former NYPD detective Price Whatley (Nicholas Bishop) to determine what happened to a patient in her past life. Their relationship has a skeptic vs. believer dynamic, similar to the dynamic between The X-Files' Mulder and Scully. But they also embark on good old crime solving, like all clever law enforcers on procedurals like CBS's NCIS and NBC's Law & Order.
Can people be reincarnated? We may never know. Can the success of a trippy show like Lost be recreated, or will the sci-fi/philosophical premise fall flat? Let's see how that mystery unfolds!
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