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‘Second Chance’ Review: Hunky Lead Can’t Save Show From Excess Banality

Drama series is a procedural dressed up in sci-fi trappings

Do TV networks think that we can’t suss out the procedural bones to dramas draped in a high concept? Do they think dressing up the case-of-the-week format with future technologies and outlandish setups will make us consider the show something other than yet another detective series? These are the weighty questions you will find yourself contemplating as you zone out of Fox’s “Second Chance.”

One of many series this year to go through multiple title changes (“The Frankenstein Code,” “Lookinglass”) and see its series order reduced even before premiering, “Second Chance” feels like a show that doesn’t know what to call itself.

On the one hand, it’s an odd-couple cop show on which by-the-book FBI agent Duval Pritchard (Tim DeKay, reprising most of his “White Collar” performance) grudgingly works with renegade freelancer Jimmy Pritchard (Rob Kazinsky). Then there’s the sci-fi series on which a petulant son finds himself confronted by the back-from-the-dead-and-way-hotter-than-before father he was happy to say goodbye to–and they grudgingly solve crimes together! Or there’s the show about a tech empire run by strange twins who speak their own language–except Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria) is slowly dying and her brilliant brother Otto (Adhir Kalyan) can’t bear the thought of losing her, so he finds a way to possibly save her: Resuscitating the corpse of aged, disgraced Sheriff Jimmy Pritchard and harvesting his blood. While Jimmy and Mary work together to solve crimes!

There’s a belabored Frankenstein metaphor inherent in this convoluted mass of characters, genres, and plots, but let’s leave underlining the obvious to “Second Chance” and instead focus on the series’ strange charms. First and foremost there’s Kazinsky’s brusque brawniness–he would have been a huge B-movie star in the ’70s–that he undercuts with a sly thrill at his new physical presence. (Of course, he was only recently Philip Baker Hall, so who wouldn’t be thrilled?) There’s something endearing in the first episode about the way he reacts when he realizes that women find him irresistible, eventually tracking down the prostitute Old Jimmy frequented and giving her a ride on the New Jimmy.

But other than presenting Kazinsky with the late holiday gift of a starring role, there’s not much else to “Second Chance.” The twins feel as if they’ve been grafted onto the plot from another series, while DeKay’s sole note for much of the first few episodes is pissed off. Other shows have tackled estranged fathers and sons better; “Minority Report” already proved that audiences don’t necessarily want to see actors holding blank Lucite tablets and grandly sweeping their hands back and forth over them to present information on windows and walls. And Lord knows there are plenty of detective shows on the air — many of them already on Fox.

In the era of Peak TV (to use a handy if largely meaningless phrase), a series needs something more than an attractive, charming lead to stand out from the pack — even if that lead is as attractive and charismatic as Kazinsky.