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Friday, April 04, 2008

New Amsterdam

I’ve been watching this show on Fox. Quickly summarized, NYC homicide detective John Amsterdam saved the life of a Native American girl in 1642. In exchange, the girl saved Amsterdam from a stab wound, but also issued a curse of immortality that will only be lifted when John finds his true love. The year is now 2008, and John is 400 years old, still searching for “The One.”

I decided at a very young age that immortality would be a curse. I was raised without religion, so my perspective was shaped (warped?) by two stories. First there was a picture book, whose title I unfortunately cannot remember, but I do remember that the text was written in script. The story was about a beaver who had a very happy childhood. One day, a fairy came to the beaver and granted him a wish. The beaver wished that he could live forever. The fairy cautioned him against this wish, but the beaver was persistent, so the wish was granted. As the beaver grew older, his parents died, and his friends died, and the beaver grew bigger and bigger. He eventually grew to be so big that he had to move out of town to live in cave, because that was the only structure big enough to hold him. Because he was so old, the other animals thought him wise, and often went to the beaver for advice. But the beaver was lonely, and missed his family and friends. One day, the beaver was so lonely that he began to cry. His tears brought back the fairy, who granted him one more wish. This time the beaver wished to die. The fairy granted this wish, and the book ends with the beaver in heaven, small again, and reunited with his family and friends.

The second story was an old Twilight Zone episode in which a man was afraid to die, and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for immortality. I don’t remember much about this episode except that the man’s friend discovered his secret because he (the friend) found a 100 year-old Civil War photograph, and saw the man in the photo, visibly unchanged, and wearing the same ring that he wore at present. More importantly, I remember that the immortal man was unhappy, and had to watch his friends grow old and die over and over again. I forget what happened at the end – I think one of his ex-wives, shown as an old woman, shot the man because she had learned his secret and couldn’t let him go on to hurt another unsuspecting young woman. Or maybe I am making up that ending because that’s how I would write it if I had written the episode. (I do that sometimes.)

Anyway, I like the show New Amsterdam, largely because it deals well with the idea of being passed on and left behind. One of John Amsterdam’s best friends is a 65-year old bartender who we later learn is one of John’s sons who has aged. Through flashback, we learn of other children and grandchildren who have grown old and died. Is this my longest post ever?

Second, I like the show because we learn through flashback that the character has worked at a number of different careers, including soldier, doctor, carriage driver, artist, and finally homicide detective. This pleases me, because it indicates to me that the character is curious and has used his time well. I’m 36, and have already had several different careers. I would like to think that by 400 I would master a few more skills as well.

The show is on Fox, Monday nights at 9. I recommend watching it.

this may be your longest post ever. I agree with you on the immortality thing, although living for a much longer time in a healthy body wouldn't bother me so much - all the books you could read, all the things you could learn to do... but watching everybody around you grow old and die and wonder why you aren't would suck.
I would love the extra time as well. I guess if everyone were immortal, it wouldn't be an issue, but I don't like the idea of being stuck in time either. Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode? I think I remember discussing it with you, but now I'm not sure.
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