FoCC Review: ABC is on to something special with Emergence


Every spring I patiently wait for announcements of a new series premiering in the fall, and in the case of  Emergence, which premieres this Tuesday on ABC, my interest was sparked from the moment I saw the teaser trailer. The series itself takes place in a quiet coastal town on Long Island (Interesting Fact: the series is filmed in New Jersey) where a young amnesiac girl, Alex Swinton, appears with no explanation. She is found by the local police chief Jo Evans (played by Allison Tolman), which leads to a unique bond as they try to figure out the circumstances surrounding her background.

(ABC/Frank Ockenfels)

The cast for this series are:

Allison Tolman – Jo Evans
Alexa Swinton – Piper
Donald Faison – Alex (Jo’s ex-husband)
Ashely Aufderheide – Mia (Jo and Alex’s daughter)
Clancy Brown – Ed (Jo’s father)
Zabryna Guevara – Dr. Abby Fraiser (Jo’s best friend and local pediatrician)
Owain Yeoman – Benny Galleger (A reporter investigating the crash)
Robert Bailey Jr. – Officer Chris Minetto

I had the pleasure of interviewing the cast during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and learned a little bit more about their roles and the series itself. While they only shot the pilot at the time I went to San Diego, they also didn’t want to give away too much regarding the underlying mystery of the story, which serves as the foundation for Emergence.   

Creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, who worked together previously on Dollhouse and Agent Carter, discussed their goal of ‘knowing their direction’ when it comes to planning a series. They stated that they have a three-year plan mapped out for the series, and when asked about key elements, they said that the family theme will be key for their series which will help with the direction of the series. Butters and Fazekas also stated that the relationships between characters are key for a series like this, for example, the relation of Jo and Alex is quite interesting because, thanks to being divorced, they act a little awkward towards each other at times as they are figuring out how to proceed in their new relationship as co-parents.  

Allison Tolman (Jo Evans) stated the motivations that drives her character to take in Piper is based on her being a good person and wanting to help others. Jo feels Piper needs help and, above all, an advocate. 

Jo’s decision to take Piper in presents an exciting opportunity for Mia, her daughter. Ashely Aufderheid, who plays Mia, talked about the excitement her character meeting Piper as she always wanted a sister. Aufderheid also told us that Mia is protective of Piper, which is something I look forward to seeing in upcoming episodes. 

Donald Faison, who plays Jo’s ex-husband Alex, is known for Scrubs, although this role is a little more serious given the nature of the series. Faison discussed the fact that even though Jo and Alex are seperated, they still have a love for each other and are now focused on their roles as co-parents.

Owain Yeoman, who plays Benny Gallagher, stated that some of the show’s elements like the series’ mystery theme will provide tension to the main storyline, which means things will escalate quickly, yet he did say that there will be payoffs in the end which should satisfy the viewer. 

After watching the pilot episode, I found it to be enjoyable and felt it established a good foundation for the series as a whole. There are a few elements which resonated well with me. The first was the diversity of the cast, which should appeal to broader audiences. We, as viewers, have fallen victim to series in the past, that are locked into a certain demographic battle or “look” so I give the producers credit for selecting the right cast of actors.

Another aspect that resonated with me is the sense of humanity weaved into the story and dialog, which breathes life into the characters. For example, Jo has a bit of a relaxed demeanor in her role as a police chief, instead of using her badge to control many situations. She uses her compassion and quick wit to diffuse the moment. 

The third was the cast’s chemistry. They display a good degree of chemistry as they interacted as a family during San Diego Comic-Con 2019. As I watched the first episode, there were a few scenes that I fully enjoyed which shows of the solid cast. Of course, fans will have to watch and see to learn what is next that really showcases the talent of each actor.  

I found myself a little curious about the direction that the series is going long-term. For example, the setting uses a small town but will it expand to other areas? Aside from the central mystery will there be other elements brought in to drive the story? The recent announcement of Terry O’Quinn (Lost) joining the cast may help answer a few of those questions, as he is a perfect selection based on his past roles playing mysterious multi-dimensional characters.

Overall, I found Emergence enjoyable and I feel that there is a lot of potential for this brand-new series. As for families that like to get together daily to watch TV, it offers something for everyone to enjoy.


Kevin aka "DRWHO42" watches a lot of TV and avoids spoilers like the plague. He is an avid Whovian, Trekker, fanboy, gamer, traveler, planner, self-professed gym rat, and Starbucks espresso loyalist. When not plotting out his schedule for the next tent-pole movie or watching his favorite shows he is on the hunt for pop-culture TV & Movie media news. More importantly he is a frequent attendee of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC). Follow him on Twitter @kevinDW42 @FoCCBlog

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