Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pilot Review: Turn

Turn (Sundays at 9:00 on AMC)

There's a really great idea at the root of Turn, the newest period piece from AMC set during the American Revolution: what would a spy thriller look like set over two hundred years in the past? Unfortunately, that's the only question Turn's pilot episode answers. There's more time spent on the design and setting than on telling a gripping story, which leaves Turn feeling about as bland as its title.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pilot Review: Surviving Jack

Surviving Jack (Thursdays at 9:30 on Fox)

We already have The Goldbergs mining the 80s for comedy over on ABC on Tuesday nights, and now we have Surviving Jack doing the same for the early 90s on Fox. The difference between the two, however, is key: Surviving Jack is funny. I don't know if it's because the 90s were "my time," and I just relate better to the humor derived from it, or if Jack is just better at using its time period, or both, but I actually found myself enjoying Fox's latest offering.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pilot Review: The 100

The 100 (Wednesdays at 9:00 on The CW)

The 100 takes place a few centuries into the future when mankind has all but decimated itself thanks to a nuclear war. The survivors take refuge in space on a contained vessel that is quickly running out of resources to sustain the last of the human race. Earth's atmosphere has been deemed unlivable for 100 years due to the dangers of radiation poisoning. But it's now been 97 years since the attacks, and with only 3-4 months of supplies remaining aboard The Ark, as the floating space colony is called, the adult leaders send 100 juvenile delinquents, all sentenced to execution on their eighteenth birthdays, to explore the possibility of returning home to Earth. It's win-win: if the planet is uninhabitable, those who were scheduled to be killed will die anyway; if it's habitable, everyone gets to live. But apparently The Lord of the Flies is no longer required reading in this future world, because we all know how this one's going to go down.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pilot Review: Crisis

Crisis (Sundays at 10:00 on NBC)

Remember when Lost and 24 were the biggest shows on TV and then every show for two or so seasons was about people either vanishing or being kidnapped or held hostage or some crazy combination of those shows? Crisis is the latest in that vein, a 24-esque political conspiracy thriller that's coming a few years late to the party. I'm not saying it's bad, because it's not; it's not even all that reductive. It's just reminiscent enough of bigger and better things to detract from its own merits, and it takes itself a little too seriously for its own good.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014-2015 Early Renewals

We're getting back into that time of year again! With just about two months until the 2014-2015 broadcast upfronts, some networks have already begun announcing early renewals for the upcoming season. Click below to see which shows will continue to grace your television sets (and computer screens, tablets, phones, or whatever complicated means by which you watch TV now) through next year. (Updated March 19)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pilot Review: Believe

Believe (Sundays at 9:00 on NBC)

Hopefully with the premiere of Believe out of the way, we can finally stop seeing that damn commercial of the little blonde girl screaming at a bunch of birds. That's about the most positive thing I can say about the latest from J.J. Abrams, whose name once connoted potential greatness and now just clues us in to the fact that the series will probably be a good vs. bad conspiracy thriller, and recent Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuaron. Because aside from that, Believe is about as mediocre as they come, a confusing mess of mythical imagery, unexplained plot points, and absurd action-movie dialogue.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pilot Review: Resurrection

Resurrection (Sundays at 9:00 on ABC)

I am one of the few who went into ABC's Resurrection knowing what to expect. I knew that this wasn't an American remake of the critically acclaimed French series Les Revenants (The Returned), but rather an adaptation of an original American novel called... The Returned. Yes, it's confusing. But I've never seen a single episode of the French series (which aired late last year in the US on the Sundance Channel), so I don't know how similar ABC's take on the returned-from-the-dead series is to it. But I have read Jason Mott's novel, and I am happy to say that Resurrection is both close to its source material and more successful than it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Three Major Reasons HBO's Looking Sucks

I just have to say that I know I'm in the minority when it comes to HBO's new series, Looking. First of all, I actually watch it, which apparently not many others do, according to its lower-than-low ratings. Secondly, I absolutely despise it. I'm committed to riding out the remainder of the first season (which has only one more episode, airing March 9 at 10:30), but I'm willing to bid a not-so-fond farewell to these narcissistic tools for season two.

But if the gay community at large is to be believed, Looking is something to be celebrated. Word of mouth must be positive, because the ratings have actually grown (though they're still teeny tiny), and most of the comments I've read on review sites, blogs, and Twitter praise the show's "realism" and "refreshing look at the lives of gay men without turning them into sex objects a la Queer as Folk." Personally, I don't see any of that. I just see a bunch of vapid pretty-boys with no sense of compassion or self-awareness.

Anyway, because so many people I've talked to can't seem to understand why I don't like Looking, here are three big reasons why I think it sucks.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pilot Review: Those Who Kill

Those Who Kill (Mondays at 10:00 on A&E; Premieres March 3)

Those Who Kill is the latest in a long line of Danish crime show remakes, this one from writer Glen Morgan, whose credits are primarily within the horror genre (The X-Files, The River, the films Final Destination and its second sequel). That would seem to work in the show's favor, since these Danish remakes tend toward a kind of psychological terror. Just look at The Killing or The Bridge. Whereas those shows each were creatively successful in their own rights, Those Who Kill just doesn't enjoy the same success, mostly because Morgan's script is a mess.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pilot Review: Mind Games

Mind Games (Tuesdays at 10:00 on ABC)

Debuting in one of ABC's most troubled timeslots is Mind Games, one of their more pleasant dramas of the season. It's a relatively smart and energetic twist on the procedural genre with a strong cast and strong writing from Kyle Killen, who has developed something of a cult following after two well-received but poorly-rated shows (NBC's Awake and Fox's Lone Star). And despite the fact that Mind Games is enjoyable and much more accessible and widely appealing than his previous shows, it's likely to be a hat trick for Killen in the one-season-and-done club, simply because ABC doesn't know how to properly schedule and/or promote their new shows.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pilot Review: Mixology

Mixology (Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC; Premieres February 26)

Some shows don't even deserve the courtesy of my thinking about it, analyzing it, and/or working out my feelings toward it. Some shows are just so unforgivably bad that little can be said to make them seem somehow redeeming or worthwhile. Some shows are so offensively conceived and written that I don't even want to remember ever watching them. Mixology is one of those shows. So I will give you two options: I will give you many of the reasons why I hated ABC's latest comedic abortion, if you are so inclined to want to know more; otherwise, you may skip ahead to the asterisk (*) for the short version of this review.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Cancellations

It's curtains for two more shows: ABC's Killer Women and NBC's Sean Saves the World.

Killer Women failed to improve upon the slot left vacant by Lucky 7, which was itself pulled from the schedule after only two episodes. Killer Women will continue to air through February 18, which will give it a grand total of six airings. That leaves two episodes of its already-shortened eight-episode season unaired. Mind Games will assume the Tuesday 10:00pm timeslot as of February 25 (it was previously announced to begin airing March 11).

Sean Saves the World has had a rough go of it the entire season. It got a surprising five-episode backorder, but after an experimental time shift (from 9:00 on Thursdays to 9:30), it fell to new lows and was subsequently canceled. NBC pulled the plug yesterday, shutting down production before all five of the show's newly ordered episodes could be shot. Sean has one episode completed but unaired.

EDIT: Add The Michael J. Fox Show to the list. NBC has pulled the freshman comedy, which struggled even more than its sister show, Sean Saves the World, from the schedule. The series was ordered last year with a blind 22-episode commitment, all of which have been filmed. NBC didn't announce when (or if) the last seven episodes will air. When the network's series return after the Olympics on February 27, the 9:00 hour on Thursdays will be filled by new episodes of Hollywood Game Night.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Premiere Review: Rake

Rake (Thursdays at 9:00 on Fox)

Rake is the second show this year to air an episode other than its pilot as its first episode (the other being ABC's Super Fun Night). Typically this indicates that the pilot wasn't particularly good, but that the show's promise was there and the network invested its faith in future episodes improving. Fox also gave Rake, which is based on an Australian series of the same name, the added bonus of premiering at midseason, so that extra time could be allowed for retooling and improvement, not to mention the huge promotional push made possible by the network's airing of the high profile NFC championship game this past weekend. But I can't imagine that gamble has paid off for Fox, because the creators behind Rake have still presented a House-but-with-lawyers antihero dramedy that tries to be zany and unpredictable but mostly is just the exact opposite.