Frequency Recap Series Premiere The CW Pilot

Frequency Premiere: Is The CW's Time- Travel Drama Worth More of Your Time?

Time travel is all the rage on TV right now, from escapist fun (Timeless) to sweeping romance (Outlander). The CW’s Frequency — a reboot of the 2000 Dennis Quaid film — opts for the heartstring-tugging route, with a daughter reconnecting with her deceased dad via a magical radio.

Wednesday’s series premiere introduced us to Raimy Sullivan (Mad Men‘s Peyton List), an NYPD detective in present-day Queens, with a nice boyfriend who’s about to pop the question. But Raimy’s still haunted by the memory of her cop dad Frank (Nashville‘s Riley Smith), who died while working undercover twenty years ago, in 1996. Frank was shot dead when Raimy was just a girl, and she was always told he was a dirty cop: “All my life, I’ve hated him.”

But her boyfriend discovers a dusty old ham radio in the garage, and during a rainstorm that night, lightning strikes the garage — and the old radio lights up. A voice comes over the radio, saying he’s from Queens, too, and talks baseball with Raimy: “Maddux was great tonight.” Raimy realizes he’s talking about Greg Maddux, who pitched for the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series. Then he says his name: “Frank, from Queens.” Yep, the voice is Raimy’s dad Frank, alive and well and broadcasting from twenty years ago.

frequency-season-1-photos-2In case we didn’t get the mid-’90s memo, we see Frank shut off a TV news report about President Bill Clinton and hit the road with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” playing in the background. He’s deep undercover and has been for years, but he drives to the house where his wife and young Raimy live and buries a gift for his daughter in the yard: a pink toy pony in a coffee can. He even sits in his car and watches as Raimy digs it up — which is probably a bad idea if he’s undercover, right?

Back in the present day, Raimy is angry at the voice on the radio claiming to be Frank; she thinks he’s just messing with her. But she starts to believe when a burn mark appears on top of the radio… and it’s from Frank’s cigar that was burning twenty years ago. She still doubts herself, though. The pilot’s funniest moment comes when she hesitantly Googles “communicating with the dead” on her work computer… and just gets a bunch of ads for phony psychics.

Raimy is still a detective, by the way, and her current case is a decomposed murder victim whose body was just discovered after rotting for decades. The body had rosary beads on it, which points to The Nightingale Killer, an infamous serial killer from the ’90s. (And yes, you’re gonna want to tuck that bit of information away for later.) But her mind’s still stuck on Frank, who convinces her he’s real by taking a photo of himself holding up a 1996 newspaper and burying it in the yard for present-day Raimy to dig up.

So now that father and daughter are both on the same page, Raimy breaks the bad news to him: “You’re dead. You die tomorrow.” She tries to warn Frank about when and how he’ll die, but he doesn’t seem to believe it. That is, until he gets to the shipyard where he originally died, and sees that everything Raimy said is true. He even plants a hidden gun to protect himself, but ends up getting shot anyway. He survives this time, though, and present-day Raimy is suddenly flooded with memories of her dad alive and congratulating her for joining him on the police force.

But is this new timeline really better? Because Raimy soon discovers that her boyfriend now has no idea who she is, and her mother (alive in the original timeline) is now missing. Remember the Nightingale Killer? Frank’s survival altered the timeline so that Raimy’s mom became a target of the serial killer — and that decomposed body that’s been dug up in 2016 is now hers.

Raimy rushes to the radio to tell Frank, but ends up talking to… her 8-year-old self. She tells young Raimy, “I’m a friend of your dad’s,” and instructs her to bring the ham radio to Frank in the hospital. Looks like these two are going to be spending a lot of time catching up and solving crimes together… and talking baseball, too. (But really: Shouldn’t Frank just head to Vegas and put some money on the Yankees in that ’96 World Series?)

What did you think of the Frequency premiere? Grade it in our poll below, then hit the comments to share your thoughts.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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30 Comments
  1. Sherry Riley says:

    I’m curious as to what Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel think of this series. How will they be able to have more than one season if it based on a movie? They are definitely going to need more material. Good luck!

  2. Seun Fayiga says:

    Well firstly can you call this show a time travel show? I mean yes they communicate through time and one change in the past affects the present, but this is unlike any other time travel show as we know them to be. We call them time travel shows because they physically travel through time to change things. This doesn’t happen here. So i don’t know if its time travel.

    The pilot was great. Acting was top notch. Editing same. The episode was perfection in itself and phenomenal. I hope people do watch the show. This beats Timeless hands down. I just hope its a hit for the network. For those bothered how the show will be able to stretch the season, the pilot opens up numerous ways, so theres no cause for worry.

    • arianeb says:

      Agree with your take on the show. Frequency keeps the time travel familiar and personal, but only information moves through time. This could actually make things more interesting.

    • Temperance says:

      Agreed. That was one of the best made pilots I’ve seen in ages – great writing, technical execution, and acting.

  3. The show hooked me with Wonderwall. However, I don’t care for the choice to use the same actors for both time periods. Even with a bit of fake grey hair I had a hard ignoring Devin Kelley who plays Raimy’s mother is only a seven months older than Payton List and could have pulled off playing a character younger than Payton..

    • Temperance says:

      I didn’t notice, other than the mom’s hair being streaked with grey. Remember, she does have to play the same character 20 years apart, so they probably chose the younger age actor because it’s easier to add age than take it away,.

    • taz says:

      yeah i was so put off by that. They looked like sisters, hard to buy the older versions of both the parents. I like the father daughter bonding, but not as the new timeline, it looks awkward and isnt as interesting as talking on the radios. Theres so much tension, awkwardness, and that getting to know each other thing. Plus they dont really develop the mum character, she’s getting one dimensional, hope they increase her involvement soon

  4. Red Snapper says:

    I loved it. This is my favorite new show so far. I’ve seen the movie but it has been so long that I don’t really remember it. I decided not to watch it again so I could be surprised by the show and not compare it to the movie. I am curious how they will sustain the story for more than a season though. I am definitely in and really hope it gets a full order.

  5. Temperance says:

    Wow, that pilot was *really* well done. Peyton List did an excellent job here.

  6. spindae2 says:

    My favorite pilot of the season really enjoyed the whole experience. Peyton was amazing and the whole supporting cast did an amazing job. Can’t wait to see more of this.

  7. Boone says:

    Amazing pilot, with a terrific performances of Peyton List. Hope the show does well with the audiences. It could be a game changer for the CW.

  8. MarcNYY618 says:

    The problem here is that I think the TV show is following the movie too closely. Why should I watch a story that I’ve seen before, and in 2 hours? I love the movie Frequency. The pilot followed the movie very closely. It wasn’t a shot by shot remake of course, but the main plot was identical. I hope their plan isn’t to have an entire season trying to solve the Nightengale murders. And if they are going to follow the movie so closely, then it’s pretty clear that the killer is a cop.

  9. BrianL says:

    Great recap, however, you made no mention of the fact that Raimy’s daughter was never conceived in the new timeline… quite a bit of important info, don’t you think?

  10. Gerald says:

    I’m In. FIngers crossed for good ratings.

  11. SharonP says:

    I like this show but it would be a check of lot better if the CLOSED CAPTIONING worked! Work on that for future airings of the show.

  12. Kristine says:

    I loved it!! I had very low expectations because I’m tired of “reimagining” things that I really loved and then screwing it up. They got this one right! I was riveted the entire time. My favorite show of the fall season so far.

  13. Pat says:

    I was able to watch it, today and I enjoyed it. I remember the movie, so this pilot turned out to be very good. I will continue to watch, but unfortunately it will be on my DVR for the following day of viewing it.

  14. frog212 says:

    This show is better than the other time travel show: Timeless.

  15. David says:

    A great show. After the pilot I couldn’t stop watching all the episodes from on CW Demand. Can’t wait for the 10th episode.