The InBetween, a new paranormal procedural, kicks off on NBC tonight.
The series follows Cassie Bedford (Harriet Dyer), a young woman with a psychic ability that permits her to communicate with the dead.
With the help of her police detective foster father Tom (Paul Blackthorne), and his new partner Damien Asante (Justin Cornwell), a former FBI agent who comes to Seattle with a go-get-em attitude and a heartbreaking backstory, the trio set about righting wrongs, solving mysteries, and seeking justice for the dead.
However after reluctantly requesting help from deceased notorious serial killer Ed Roven (recurring guest star Sean Bolger) in the pilot episode, Cassie finds herself dangerously indebted to the killer. In return for his invaluable assistance Roven wants to be free of the InBetween, a realm between our world and the next where his spirit is trapped. Going forward, it’s clear Cassie will have to walk a dangerously fine line in her efforts to remain true to her paranormal calling.
The InBetween was originally slated to air as part of NBC’s 2017/18 primetime schedule, but was held off until summer. A lack of confidence on NBC’s part? Probably. The series is very much a by-the-book paranormal investigation of the week, à la CBS’ The Ghost Whisperer, or NBC’s Medium, with very little that’s fresh or unexpected on offer, despite meticulous diversity casting and the presence of Cassie’s two sophisticated gay dads, who, when not on the case, seem to be forever half way through a bottle of Merlot and copious amounts of salad in their improbably large, well appointed, and very clean house.
It’s hard to know whether the pilot and subsequent episode I recently screened were edited heavily, or if the creative team just decided to dispense with all the tedious setup and exposition one would normally expect to find in a series premiere. Regardless, it works, after a fashion. The pilot launches into the case of the week from the opening scene, leaving viewers to piece together the various character relationships and the show’s main schtick along the way. Perhaps that’s just as well. The story of the week is often so thinly spread, with outcomes and jumps scares you’ll see coming from miles away, any additional steps to get to point B would be otherwise excruciating.
Sadly, this neat pacing, and an attractive and able cast (featuring Paul Blackthorne’s original British accent), are further let down by wince-worthy dialogue such as a scene in which Cassie explains why she can’t use her gift to solve a particular mystery — “This stuff only happens when the universe wants it to happen.”
The universe? Or the plot constraints of this particular episode?
This clunky dialogue, coupled with the unsatisfactorily fluid manner in which Cassie’s gift works (sometimes she is visited by the dead seeking urgent help, but sometimes she has no communication with the dead at all, but can replay the exact manner in which they died instead. Other times she can see through the eyes of the living, as is the case in the second episode. Occasionally, when the story calls for it, just by touching someone Cassie can see their entire backstory, and sometimes she just knows when someone is a whiskey on the rocks drinker) hints at a decision by the show’s creative team to keep The InBetween’s unique selling point as nebulous — and therefore easy to write about — as possible.
Overall, there’s nothing inherently bad about The Inbetween. It’s perfect summer fare that doesn’t beg for too much of your attention. However if you want genuine scares, or a watertight concept with more reliable storytelling, you may have to flip the channel, or catch an old rerun of NBC’s Medium.
The InBetween is from writer/executive producer Moira Kirland (Castle, Madam Secretary) and stars Harriet Dyer, Justin Cornwell, Anne-Marie Johnson, Cindy Luna, Chad James Buchanan, and Paul Blackthorne. The series is produced by Universal Television, NBCU International Television Studio and Heyday Television.
It airs Wednesdays at 10-11 p.m. ET on NBC.