NBC’s The InBetween – “I see dead people…”

There was this great Australian soap opera drama called Love Child, a period piece about unwed teen mothers in the late 1960’s.  I really enjoyed it, and although I hoped that Love Child would somehow make it to an American broadcast (it would have done well on PBS Masterpiece or maybe as a Netflix import), that never happened.

But last year, I received news that one of the stars of Love Child, Harriet Dyer, would get her own NBC drama, The InBetween, to air as a summer show this year.

Apparently the pilot episode aired last Wednesday.  I must have missed the zillions of commercials and heavy promotion for the show’s debut.  It was only when I was flipping around the channels on my Apple TV that I saw NBC had aired the episode and was streaming it as an On Demand option.

Okay … let’s watch.

Oh great.  Another police-meets-necromancer series.  This certainly HASN’T been done before.  No, never.  (cough cough) Ghost Whisperer (cough cough) Tru Calling (cough cough) Pushing Daisies (cough cough) Medium (cough cough) Dead Like Me (cough cough) Jennifer Slept Here (cough cough) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (cough cough) Topper (cough cough) someone get me a throat lozenge, please?  I’m choking over here…

Anyway, Harriet Dyer plays the person who can communicate with the dead – she helps two Seattle police officers solve unsolved cases by providing knowledge from the dead, and she also helps the dead with their own unresolved issues by communicating with their families and those who harmed them.

And with all that, the show follows the same police procedural pattern as nearly every cop drama out there.  Police are looking for clues and, initially, they have none.  They talk to Dyer’s character, who provides them with a fragment of a clue.  They pursue it, even though the clue makes no sense.  The clue reveals itself as an object or a phrase or something distinct.  The cops are now convinced that they’re on the right trail, they do some more investigating, and then we have the big conflict with the suspect in the last ten minutes of the episode.

Trust me, I really, really wanted to like this series.  I really wanted this to be something that I could argue was a show that deserved some views.  Because when NBC goes for genre TV, it’s either a critical success (The Good Place), a cult favorite (Timeless) or a show that has potential but never really achieved it (Emerald City).  This show, however, just doesn’t work for me.

Let me give you an example of a show that DID make the “dead can talk” concept work.  Pushing Daisies.  The show had its own stylized appearance, it had a romantic interest that was both sweet and sad at the same time, and the plotlines were both funny and poignant.  Hell, we got two seasons of Pushing Daisies and I was glad that we received those.

Unfortunately, The InBetween doesn’t achieve that mode of quirkiness.  It feels like it was shoehorned into the “police work with gifted but flawed outsider” that I’ve seen in Monk and Numb3rs and <Scorpion/> and God knows how many other programs.

And with that in mind, I now understand why NBC is burning off this series as a summer replacement.  I don’t expect this show to return with new episodes next year.  Heck, I’d be surprised if it actually completes its original broadcast run.

But if they do end the series without finishing up all the episodes … I have a simple request for NBC.  I have a great show they can insert in their lineup to finish off the summer.

Just sayin’ is all… 😀