How the ‘Frequency’ TV Reboot Differs From the Movie


This Wednesday, The CW premieres the reboot series of the 2000 film Frequency. The original movie starred Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid as a son and father who, thanks to atmospheric disturbances caused by the aurora borealis, manage to talk to each other decades apart via a HAM radio. At its most basic level, The CW’s reboot remains very similar. Peyton List and Riley Smith play the roles of daughter and father communicating again by the same circumstance.

Family Dynamic

Raimy Sullivan in Frequency

Obviously, the first difference is the dynamic that’s changed from a father/son to a father/daughter relationship. Fathers are traditionally depicted as less concerned with their sons taking on dangerous roles and being more protective of their daughters.

Like the original film, Peyton List’s character Raimy Sullivan is a police officer. However having a female in this lead role extends the discomfort for her father one step further. With her father in a completely different time period, her father isn’t there to protect her. Her character proves she’s more than capable of taking on the dangers of her job. And since she’s situated in the future, she’s in a position of knowing the wiser.


Frequency promo image of father and daughter in New York, the past showing the Twin Towers in the background and the future without

Caviezel and List both play police officers intent on saving their fathers. Quaid and Smith, however, play two very different professions. In the movie, Quaid is a firefighter who dies while battling an inferno at an abandoned warehouse. But, in the show, Smith plays a police officer who dies under mysterious circumstances while undercover. In the former, the father dies a hero; in the latter, it’s insinuated that he may have been doing something crooked, a point that’s cleared up fairly quickly in the narrative.

While it’s nice the daughter and father can converse with one another using jargon from their shared profession, it may have been much more interesting to have the father remain outside of the law enforcement field. He wouldn’t have to be a firefighter per se — heck, make him an EMT or something — but having a different profession would have opened the opportunity for them to teach each other and may have led to some great comedic moments as well.


The northern lights

The biggest difference is going to be simplicity versus complexity. A movie format allows for a simple narrative to unfold without changes screwing up things too much in the timeline. It also worked within a tight timeframe. This way the characters knew they had limited time to fix the past — and present — before the atmospheric disturbance disappeared.

The biggest argument one could present with the movie is that when the murderer is at Caviezel’s throat, he still had two working hands, even though Dennis Quaid shot one of them off in the past. It’s an interesting conundrum since Caviezel listens to it happen in the past while he’s being choked in the present. It also made for a great visual when the timelines “synched”.

Yet the show looks as if it’s going to be much more complex. There’s no end time for the disturbance, for one, which means the changes to the past that lead to unintended consequences in the present could go on indefinitely. While the father being saved happens in both instances, what does that mean for the show? And how will it change the present version of the father? We know in the movie that both Caviezel and Quaid seemed to retain their memories when the timelines were changed, and there’s no reason to think List’s character won’t do the same. So does a whole new timeline get “downloaded” into Present Father’s brain with each shift? That can’t possibly be any fun for him.

The more complex a time travel story is, the more things will start to snowball. The more things start to snowball, the more facts writers have to keep track of, and the greater the chance they’ll trip themselves up. Plus, characters start to become diluted. Heroes is a great reminder of this, as people started to care about characters less, simply because their stories kept changing.

As a fan of the movie, it will be very interesting to see how the show progresses. To find out more about the TV show, visit the Frequency wiki!

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