Death. Destruction. Misery. These are things that many mystery shows over the years do their best to focus on, and some of them succeed and then last for a reasonable amount of time. Others tend to fade away very quickly. It’s hard to sell a new murder mystery show to an audience these days, given all the competition that is out there — especially for anyone with a badge. With that in mind, you do see showrunners these days taking interest in creative risks to try to shake things up. NBC’s The InBetween is certainly a risk — it’s creative enough to be interesting, but also familiar enough to feel crime-TV comforting in the right kind of ways. It’s a work in progress, but the right skeleton is there.
From the get-go, there are going to be some comparisons between this show and what we have seen on Medium, The Dead Zone, and really any other show out there that uses dead people as a device the further along the story. Yet, how it plays out here is fairly interesting. Harriet Dyer stars as Cassie, a young woman who remarkably has her life pretty well together given the fact that she communicates regularly with the number of dead people, ones who tend to come to her at random times. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, and because this isn’t an origin story, the phenomenon is really just kind of exists and you have to accept it. There’s no real setup and there’s no real OMG face from her as to how it’s happening or why. She seems to be about as used to it as you can imagine someone like her would be.
Throughout the premiere episode, you do see a number of different visitors arrive and communicate with Cassie in some shape or form. There are some, including a young girl, who tend to linger a little bit longer than others and have perhaps a larger place in the series’ main narrative. Meanwhile, some others are very much dark and haunting, including the killer who showed up at the very end of the episode with his Peter Rabbit rhyme and menacing look. It’s an interesting motley crew who can turn up and say hello to Cassie in any random moment, and we presume that is some of the show’s appeal.
But, let’s get to the crime TV Mystique of it all now. After all, we are talking here about a show with a case-of-the-week element to it! Cassie is working with her foster father Tom, played by Arrow alum Paul Blackthorne, and Tom’s new partner Damien in order to solve cases. It’s not exactly like she is a current part of the police department, but she is certainly there and she is a useful asset. Sometimes, she can see clues in a way no one else can, which makes sense because she can really talk to dead people. (Visually, the way you see this is really well-done.)
The case at the heart of the premiere is certainly a fascinating one, given that there are some different permutations and a well put-together conclusion. We don’t really think that the main appeal of this show is going to be breaking down every single case in terms of facts; rather, it’s the way in which it is solved and the importance of the supernatural in getting it done. In this particular case, what’s exciting is that Damien is still somewhat new to Tom and Cassie’s arrangement. He is coming very much from a world of facts and Quantico, and with that in mind, he has a hard time accepting that someone who was not actually a Seattle PD detective is able to be the linchpin in a number of important investigations. He understandably challenges her, but she quickly proves herself and with that, Damien just has to get on board this whole idea. Maybe he is the one we expected a little bit of a sharper reaction from him, given that he is the outsider and he is the person who doesn’t quite understand this creepy world around him.
Outside of her so-called job, Cassie does seem to have a reasonably okay life with a possible love interest and people that she sees on a regular basis who are not thankfully dead. Yet, we do wonder as the show goes along and each case becomes more and more intense if it’s all going to become more of a burden to her then it is right now. For the pilot, everything is fairly smooth sailing (save for some rocky waters in that shower scene), but some darker currents coming up come be a bit more long-lasting.
Overall, The InBetween is a fun bit of summer television. It has a solid cast, interesting twists, and a conceit that feels a little bit like Reverie last summer, which was unfortunately canceled right when it was really starting to get good. We don’t know what the long-term outlook is going to be for an NBC summer show that’s not following up its biggest hit in America’s Got Talent, but this is a show at least we’re checking out for a few weeks to see exactly where it goes from here.
With the right cases, this cast has the capacity to knock them out of the park, and the premise is interesting enough that you could do all sorts of creepy and interesting things with it for weeks on end. We just want there to be a little bit more jeopardy, especially for people like Damien who don’t quite understand the inner machinations of this world or Cassie’s powers.
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