On first impressions, this new spooky drama is lazy – and a bit derivative. The title where the protagonist’s name has been manipulated to accommodate a clichéd phrase has been overdone (from Crazy Like A Fox to Sweet Medicine). And the show owes a huge debt to sci-fi classic Quantum Leap, which also involved a time-traveller who aided those whose lives were wrongly harmed. (More recently, Early Edition and The Dead Zone have also used this device).
To establish that Eliza Dushku’s Tru is a maverick, but is also intelligent, we see her racing from her apartment because she’s late for her graduation. She makes it, just, but then discovers her medical school funding has fallen through so she takes a job in the morgue to make ends meet.
The morgue is run by a wide-eyed geeky boss, one of only two physically unattractive characters in the show, who leads her to the crypt which contains the corpses of “people who died before their time” – a major theme. Working alone later that night, her first corpse is brought in, a young woman with a gunshot wound to the head. As Tru examines her, she starts pleading for help. It’s at that moment the supernatural element kicks in as Tru is sucked back through time to the start of that day so she has the chance to ensure the woman doesn’t die “before her time”.
Tru quickly tracks down the murder victim and prevents her from revealing to her married lover that she is pregnant, as Tru fears he is the killer. But when they return to her apartment they are confronted by a gun-wielding obsessive ex-lover who is disarmed by a high-kick that Dushku seems to have brought from her role in Buffy.
Tru then happily sits down for a meal with her brother (a reckless gambler) and her sister (a lawyer with a cocaine habit), both of whom she has used her Groundhog Day to help out of crises, until there is one rather weak twist at the end.
And it is the placid resolution of the twist that identifies a big flaw – Tru seems to be infallible. It may have been better for one of her three quests in this episode to have ended in failure to show that time-travel can’t solve all your problems and that fate somehow has a way of claiming its own, but as a pilot it did set up an interesting concept that has potential. However, the notion of a perfect heroine has to be dropped – even Superman was averse to Kryptonite.