Frequency (2016) TV Pilot Review

Frequency follows a police detective who discovers that she is able to talk to her estranged detective father, who died in 1996, via ham radio. Her attempts to save his life causes a “butterfly effect” which wreaks havoc in the present day, resulting in them having to work together to catch a serial killer.

Warning, there are spoilers ahead.


Frequency is heading into some competitive territory. Not only is it one of four premiering shows dealing with a time travel aspect, it is also one of the many movie adaptations debuting. That means it has a difficult task to stand out and thus succeed. However, instead of buckling under the pressure, Frequency has delivered a compelling and entertaining pilot that left me eager to see episode 2.

A major advantage Frequency has is its cast. Peyton List heads up the pack as NYPD detective Raimy Sullivan. List proves herself to be a very capable lead, and delivers a solid performance in the pilot. Her character goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and List manages to capture each one perfectly. List definitely makes it easy to feel sorry for Raimy and right from the start you’re rooting for her. Her father, Frank Sullivan, is played by Riley Smith. Smith brings a level of charm to Frank that makes him instantly likeable even as you’re wondering if he’s a dirty cop or not. His softer side, shown through the love for his family, further aids this. Where both actors really shine though is their scenes with each other. I didn’t think it would be possible to have such a great amount of chemistry with two actors/characters not being in the same room, but List and Smith prove this wrong. They manage to come up with a fantastic dynamic despite only communicating via radio. Their scenes were probably the best of the episode and their relationship probably the biggest strength of the series. Seeing young Raimy bring Frank the radio brought a smile to my face as it surely means we’ll have more of these interactions to look forward to.

Such a heavy focus on the Raimy/Frank relationship did however mean less screen time for the rest of the cast. Perhaps the biggest casualty of this was Mekhi Phifer who plays Frank’s former partner, Satch Rayna. When you have such a talented actor as Phifer, it’s a shame not to use him. And that’s what ended up happening in the pilot. The same can be said for Lenny Jacobson who plays Raimy’s childhood friend, Gordo. Gordo has the potential to be a much needed source of humour in quite a dark show. Hopefully they can push that in further episodes, as well as develop Satch. Fairing slightly better for screen time were Devin Kelley and Daniel Bonjour who played Raimy’s mother Julie and Raimy’s boyfriend Daniel, respectively. Bonjour does well in the part but with such exciting things going on everywhere else in the episode, the relationship between Raimy and Daniel felt a little dull. Perhaps even unnecessary. However, now that he has no memory of Raimy it’ll be interesting to see how they proceed with him as a character. More clear is the significance of Julie. Her death is still preventable in the past so it provides a great opportunity for Frank and Raimy to work together to solve the mystery of Nightingale.

The Nightingale serial killer is definitely a good idea to kick off the season but I wonder how long they can draw that storyline out. If they spend too much time on it without getting the audience invested, it runs the risk of becoming boring. However, I do like that it seems like the show is going on a serialized, long running mystery format instead of the typical “case of the week” police procedural.

Whilst the pilot did start off a little slow, the gradual build-up was worth it. With it’s interesting concept, thrilling twists and brilliant characters; Frequency has built a very strong foundation for its freshman season.

Pilot Rating – 4/5

Categories: Reviews, TV

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