Cautiously intrigued by Fox’s fairly insane but also potentially promising series Second Chance? You are not alone. But the cast — including Rob Kazinsky, Dilshad Vadsaria, Adhir Kaylan, and Tim DeKay, along with executive producer Brad Turner — recently answered some questions viewers may already have about the series, and gave a preview of what’s to come.
If you haven’t yet watched, Second Chance is the story of Jimmy Pritchard (Kazinsky), a man brought back from the dead by tech genius twins Mary and Otto Goodwin (Vadsaria and Kaylan), who now possesses super strength. Pritchard was a disgraced Sheriff in his former life (and also 74 years old … though no longer looks it!), but his return doesn’t mean he’ll change his ways, even though he now has a chance at a better relationship with his FBI agent son, Duval (DeKay). The show is ambitious (you can read my review of the pilot here), but being a sci-fi series on Fox is a hard game to play. Still, the show’s gonzo premise is pretty interesting, especially when it comes to combining several genres, and potentially addressing some ethical quandaries, as you’ll see below.
First off: the connections to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are “more spiritual than literal.”
That’s according to executive producer Brad Turner. However, there are still some obvert nods to the original. Dilshad Vadsaria said that her character is named after Mary Shelly, for example, who was Mary Godwin before she was married.
Pritchard’s powers don’t make him Superman.
Brad Turner told us, “the beauty of it is this is probably — other than Daredevil – this is the strongest lead 74-year-old I’ve every worked with! So he has renewed powers, physical powers that are beyond definitely a 74-year-old, but also what a 30-year-old would have. It’s not a superpower, but it’s strong strength. It’s part of humanizing this character and not making him a superhero, but at the same time using some of his powers to get ahead, and further into a case than you’d normally get.”
Pritchard may develop other powers.
“He is not done evolving and he will continue to evolve throughout the course of the show,” Kazinsky said. “The way he is now is not the finished product, and there is a reason there was an original title [“The Frankenstein Code”] where he is kind of going to end up. There is a monster inside.”
Pritchard is a physical monster in some sense (and has been a monster in his personal life), so the villains he faces will reflect that.
Brad Turner added, “I think those two monsters are totally different. The monster he was is being tempered by the fact of the reality of him being trapped in his own nightmare.” As far as that affecting the villains this season, he continued “I think that’s where Pritchard’s dark side is, and that’s why a lot of the people who are reemerging are just as dark as his original foes.” Tim DeKay added, “All the villains are incredibly smart and dark and have really freaky aspects to them, ones that are very interesting like sub, sub-culture and ones that somehow relate to how they see themselves in the world and how others see them. Some of the villains could arguably be called monsters [and] a regular approach to catching them could not be done. ”
One of the greatest challenges for Pritchard is reconnecting with his son Duval in a new way, but Duval doesn’t want him part of his family life.
“He’s a widower,” DeKay told us. “And he’s a single dad. And he’s raising Gracie. And he’s trying to deal with that aspect of life, and trying to have a career as a FBI agent. It’s difficult. And then this monster comes into his life, who was a monster in the past. But this monster is not trying to redeem himself … and he doesn’t know why. Why are you helping me? Who are you?”
Pritchard doesn’t necessarily want to change, though he does wrestle with his new identity.
Turner explained,“ the new Pritchard — the young Pritchard — is wrestling with the fact that he doesn’t want to be that [bad] person. He wants to be more of a person who fits into normal life, but he has those tendencies and now he has renewed power too as well.” But, Rob Kazinsky countered that there’s more to it than meets the eye, “I think it would be incredibly boring if this experiment made him a decent person, and that’s the whole point of this show.”
Duval will become an important balance for Pritchard, especially when he starts getting access to Lookinglass
“When you put that kind of power, which is the only super power that exists in the real world, in the hands of somebody who … his morals are questionable,” Kazinsky said. “That’s when Duval becomes more and more important. And the straight edge side of the law does become important, to balance out this vengeful spirit that Pritchard is. ”
With Lookinglass, Pritchard is faced with a lot of tech, but he is a 74 year old man …
“I tried so hard to tell my dad how to turn the television on and the satellite. And how to get my father to operate Skype, and he can’t,” Kazinsky said. “No matter how many times you explain it as simply as it’s possible to do, he just can’t understand. And I don’t think Pritchard will ever understand either. Even if he is hyper-intelligent and, you know, super fast and all that stuff. I think he’s still just slightly culture-shocked by this whole experience. A mobile phone is about his limit.”
Speaking of tech, though Lookinglass isn’t inherently evil, it is hugely powerful.
As Vadsaria explains, “Mary and Otto have done good through Lookinglass. For example, it’s not for profit. If you think about social entrepreneurship and what you can give back, it’s very much that sort of mind set. And it’s a progressive company, so everything they’ve done, it’s about how can we help humanity and mankind move forward. What Pritchard now brings to the table is a different way of helping people, here and now, in this very moment someone’s in trouble, what are we going to do to get them out of trouble? Every life has its worth. [So,] it hasn’t been that they’re sitting here spying on people and really taking advantage of the technology, that’s not their MO; but in the sense of trying to save somebody who is about to die in the next hour if we don’t get to them, then that’s where it kind of comes in, “okay we have to do this.” And I think also what you’ll find is it’s more Pritchard and Otto that take advantage of those boundaries.”
Adhir Kaylan tells us that his approach to playing Otto and his social disorder is considering him “twice exceptional” — “twice the gifts, but also twice the challenges.”
“[Adults] and children who are classified as “twice exceptional” are classified as that in relation to people who are regarded as neurotypical, or relatively normal […] And some children who are “twice exceptional” are on the autistic spectrum, but you don’t have to be autistic in order to be that. So I think for me, [the focus is] on the anxieties and the stresses of the character as he tries to overcome some of these social challenges, and some of the things before him that he finds difficult to deal with.“
Otto and Mary talk in their own “twin speak” language, and it took some time for the actors to get used to it.
“The creator of the show has a codification that he uses,” Adhir Kaylan told us. “Up until this point, it’s sort of been on a need-to-know basis, to a degree. However, we are at the point now — almost halfway through this first season — where certain words are starting to repeat and certain patterns are starting to emerge. So whereas it might have taken me 45 minutes to remember one line, now it’s taking me 10 minutes to remember three [lines]. Because things are starting to make a little more sense and there is a degree of consistency, especially with how certain words begin, how certain words end. Even pronouns or very similar names and certainly the things that he tends to talk about are fairly specific, so that’s been really helpful, too.”
Mary acts a moral center on the show, but has to justify their actions with the experiment through the lens of protecting Otto.
Vadsaris explained to us, “For Mary, it always comes down to Otto — it always has. She said “I’ll never leave you and I’ll always be here for you.” Otto can’t function outside of his own world, he just can’t, and to leave him alone in this world is something that is unimaginable, I mean if you have a child who is extremely ill, you think “I can’t live past my child’s life, I have to make sure that my child is okay,” and it’s in that realm that Mary moves forward in okaying it. Mary is a very selfless character in that sense, it’s never really about her first and foremost, it’s always about how her actions affect everyone else around her, and what she’s responsible for. ”
Otto’s protective feelings for Mary will cause tension with Pritchard, forcing Otto to be more direct and leave his comfort zone.
As Kaylan told us, “actually, the first time we really see him in a direct manner with Pritchard is in the current episode that we’re working on [episode 1.06]. But it’s also done in a very Otto-esque way where his direct moments with Pritchard are only in twin-speak. So he hasn’t quite made that complete movement to addressing him directly. But I think he’s growing increasingly concerned that not only is this experiment now out of control, but he might lose his sister in the process. ”
Otto’s conflict with Pritchard could even potentially lead to him becoming “dangerous.”
“They are polar opposites,” said Kazinsky. “You have somebody who is so regimented and rigid and obsessive compulsive, and someone who is a flaming inflatable balloon-man –he is in every direction, just thrusting into space. When you are that wild against something so staid … Mary can adapt, but Otto actually cannot, and there is a little bit of nemesis happening there. I don’t think Pritchard appreciates how dangerous Otto can be.”
Finally: the tank scenes are -gasp!- fake.
Kazinsky detailed his time in the tank by saying, “There is a black background, black walls and a glass front and then a blacked out chair on it with footrests and I sit in this chair in my pants and my underwear and I look like I’m floating. And then I move so very slowly, as if I’m in water. I feel like an idiot every single time, and I’m naked every single time, and it feels weird every single time — and every time it actually looks like I’m floating. And it looks kind of cool.”
Second Chance airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.