ABC's Forever

EXCLUSIVE: How creator Matt Miller goes all 'Sherlockian' on us with ABC's Forever

Contributed by
Sep 22, 2014

There's a lot beneath the surface of ABC's new sci-fi fall series, Forever, but don't expect a series about an immortal medical examiner to have any easy answers, promises creator and executive producer Matt Miller (Chuck, The 100).

Forever follows the story of New York City's star medical examiner, Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), who just happens to also be immortal. Henry is over 200 years old, and he's developed a unique way of looking at clues when it comes to solving a murder.

“We catch a guy who's immortal, but we're catching him at a point in his life when he doesn't really want to be, anymore, and he's actively pursuing a way out of it, which is what led to the notion of, well, maybe he works at the ME's office, so that he would have access to death 24/7 and be able to examine it and explore it,” said Miller.

Henry “really keeps his head down, stays to himself, and his job as being an ME is more for research about his own condition, and through the course of the pilot he gets caught up in this subway crash of which he is the only survivor. And so what happens is that fingers start to point towards him as the person who might have caused it. So he has to emerge from his shell in order to prove his own innocence,” said Miller.

Henry ends up in an adversarial relationship with a female detective (Alana de la Garza), and they are forced to team up to solve the crime. “The two of them are able to unravel this mystery of the pilot's story. What that does is it tees up a very nice structure for us moving forward of a medical examiner who certainly works closely with detectives all the time and is called in for homicides and other things to look at the bodies and examine them. But because of the fact that Henry has the benefit of several hundred years of life, he has this Sherlockian ability to look at crime scenes, to look at bodies, to understand things, emotions in a way that the rest of us that have just gone through this life one time haven't,” he said.

Forever, at its core, is a procedural that follows Henry and Jo as they investigate a crime. “At the same time, though, we're going to be able to sprinkle in flashbacks of Henry's past into every episode. So we're going to see and get to piece together the mystery of his life and the mystery of his origin. Some of it can be purely emotionally connected to the case we're working on, and sometimes it actually has real practical story elements where he is able to learn things and know things based on just having lived it and experienced it before. So we'll also get a bit of that. As Henry and Jo get closer, does she start to piece together these unusual parts of his life, and does she get close to learning?”

The series also stars Judd Hirsch (Taxi) as Henry's best friend and the one person who knows his secret.

Part of the problem for poor Henry is that, when he dies, he wakes up in a body of water, naked. And the timing isn't always convenient when it comes to keeping a low profile.

As the season goes forth, expect the mystery of Henry to deepen. “I don't want to give too much away, but is there somebody else out there like Henry? If so, what are the circumstances surrounding that person's life? Things like that that we get into a little bit ... Henry is, for the most part, a good, moral human being. But is the other person taking a different path and a different course? What challenges does that present to Henry?” asks Miller.

And as for why he can't die, “We'll get into that. That's a much slower-burn mythology,” he said.

Here's a look at Forever:

Forever will air in its regular timeslot beginning Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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