Preview 9 p.m. today; premiere 9 p.m. Thursday, Fox
In the new Fox series "Past Life," Kelli Giddish plays Dr. Kate McGinn, a scientist who believes in reincarnation and uses clues from those past lives to deal with problems in the present.
To research the role, 29-year-old Georgia native Giddish had a past-life regression reading done.
"It was like having a stenographer for your dreams. And I found out I was a fruit picker in the old South. And then I was an Alaskan boy," Giddish says.
She didn't believe in past lives until after the reading. Now she has more of an open mind. She sees similarities between an actor's career and a person who believes that past lives help define who he or she is today.
"All of these roles become a part of you even if you can't remember the name of the character you played. They all add a texture to you as a person," Giddish says. "It is the same as someone knowing they had past lives because the more past lives you go through the more powerful you get."
Giddish's work includes TV and film projects such as "All My Children," "Damages," "Death in Love" and "Life on Mars."
Working in theater and daytime television have been huge contributors to defining Giddish as an actor. Both taught her to be prepared, to trust her acting instincts and to not be afraid of hard work.
The role of Dr. McGinn fits into the Fox trend of having smart women as the central characters in offbeat dramas, as seen in "Bones," "Fringe" and "Dollhouse."
Giddish thinks the trend reflects how women - especially Southern women - have "different ways of getting people to open up" and can be strong while maintaining a sensitive side.
The show also stars Nicholas Bishop and Richard Schiff.
How's the show?
Whether or not you believe in reincarnation isn't the problem with "Past Life."
Belief in reincarnation is not the issue. "The X-Files' was a hit despite asking viewers to believe in UFOs and "Fringe" requires an acceptance of an alternate universe.
What's wrong with "Past Life" is it asks the viewer to take major leaps in regard to the clues. A person might mention he has a fear of water and suddenly the team is looking for deadly events at a lighthouse. Really? How about a river, water tower, swimming pool or birdbath?
One big leap leads to another. By the end, the line of investigation has more twists than a Jackson Pollock painting.
"Past Life" may settle into the standard storytelling of "Lie To Me" or "Fringe." The writers just need to take fewer leaps of logic.