Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pilot Review: Constantine

Constantine (Fridays at 10:00 on NBC)

Just in case you didn't have your fill of comic book adaptations almost every other night of the week, NBC is here to remedy that situation by bringing the DC series Hellblazer to the small screen as Constantine. It's a late entry in the comic adaptation game (and in the fall season), and it's not an entirely successful one. But in terms of sheer enjoyability, this latest offering ranks high.

Friday, October 17, 2014

State of the Union: Fall 2014

We're now four weeks into the new television season, and networks are starting to make decisions on the futures of some new shows. Click through below to see where the newbies stand.

Additionally, CBS has pulled the plug on comedy The Millers after airing just four episodes of its second season. Shows being canceled so early in their runs that are not new series is relatively unheard of, especially since The Millers was pulled just one day after a lower-rated freshman show got an order for more scripts. (Updated November 24)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pilot Review: Marry Me

Marry Me (Tuesdays at 9:00 on NBC)

NBC is batting zero with me this fall. Of the three new shows they've premiered (this one, Bad Judge, A to Z), none of them made me want to return for another episode. Maybe because they're all about annoying douchebags, especially the erratic Marry Me. What is the impetus to watch a show about awful people? I'll never know, and I won't be starting with Marry Me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pilot Review: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin (Mondays at 9:00 on The CW)

With a title like Jane the Virgin, you know exactly what you're getting: something a little risque with a bit of silliness. Make that a whole heap of silliness, once we hit about the halfway point of the absurd CW pilot based on the Venezuelan series Juana la Virgen. That's when the show embraces its melodramatic, over-the-top roots as a telenovela adaptation and takes a nosedive into near-nonsense.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pilot Review: Cristela

Cristela (Fridays at 8:30 on ABC)

The family sitcom has been done to death, but Cristela has the "twist" of being about a Mexican family. That little word makes all the difference in a television landscape that under-represents minorities, even as Univision gives the broadcast networks a run for their money in the ratings department: star, writer, and producer Cristela Alonzo is one of very few Latina/Hispanic (she shares the character's Mexican-American nationality) actors on broadcast television, and the only one in a leading role. For that alone, Cristela is admirable. And while "admirable" doesn't always translate to "good," the laughs in ABC's newest pilot land more often than they miss.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pilot Review: The Flash

The Flash (Tuesdays at 8:00 on The CW; Premieres October 7)

The second of three new DC Comics-based shows is The CW's The Flash, starring Grant Gustin (Glee) as the titular superhero. While technically a spin-off of the network's popular Arrow, as Gustin had a two-episode arc in that show's most recent season, this new take on the World's Fastest Man differs heavily in tone and execution. The Green Arrow and The Flash may exist in the same television universe, but they couldn't be more different. Whereas Arrow is dark and brooding, The Flash is silly and over-the-top, the way comic book adaptations used to be

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pilot Review: Mulaney

Mulaney (Sundays at 9:30 on Fox)

Remember Seinfeld? Of course you do, it was one of the most popular and most celebrated sitcoms of all time. Fox is hoping that you not only remember it, but that you miss it enough to want to watch another up-and-coming comedian blatantly rip that show off in his own bid for sitcom stardom. Prove to Fox that you're smarter and more discerning than that by skipping this mess.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pilot Review: Stalker

Stalker (Wednesdays at 10:00 on CBS)

Let's first clear the air on something: Stalker is not the misogynistic, heinously violent series that many reviewers have made it out to be. Anyone who has blasted the show for its opening sequence, in which a woman is trapped in a flaming car that then explodes, simply has not watched it. While this scene is creepy and suspenseful and suggestively violent, the actual murder is not shown. That goes for the entirety of Stalker. While it tackles a subject that is inherently disconcerting and voyeuristic, the show itself is actually relatively tasteful. There was more on-screen violence in this week's second episode of Gotham, and the torture scenes are almost all mental rather than physical, so it doesn't even compare to creator Kevin Williamson's last show, The Following. The show itself may not be the most progressive or the most unique, but it's better and more timely than its early detractors have suggested.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pilot Review: A to Z

A to Z (Thursdays at 9:30 on NBC; Premieres October 2)

There is such a thing as trying too hard to stick out. Comedies like Veep, Arrested Development, and others develop rabid followings because their characters (and the actors playing them) are a little off; Pushing Daisies stuck out because of its bold visual style and perspective; and there are countless other examples of shows that had a quirk to them that audiences and critics could latch onto. NBC's new romantic comedy A to Z tries to put all of them into one show, and it fails.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pilot Review: Manhattan Love Story

Manhattan Love Story (Tuesdays at 8:30 on ABC)

ABC has the two smartest sitcoms of the season in Black-ish and Selfie. They have gone above and beyond the typical comedy setups of "a bunch of friends looking for love" or "dysfunctional family" and crossed over into social commentary and satire. Why, then, is ABC airing Manhattan Love Story, the worst kind of trite, oversimplified, offensively dumb show: the gender roles comedy? They are clearly capable of doing much better, of providing viewers with thoughtful humor, but you would never guess it after subjecting yourself to just a few minutes of Love Story.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pilot Review: Selfie

Selfie (Tuesdays at 8:00 on ABC; Premieres September 30)

What if Eliza Doolittle were a character in an Amy Heckerling film in 2014? That seems to be the question Selfie creator Emily Kapnek asked herself when developing the new ABC comedy based on George Bernard Shaw's classic 1912 play Pygmalion (and subsequent musical adaptation My Fair Lady). There's a surprising bite to the comedy here, much as there was over a century ago when Shaw debuted his play, despite some shortcomings. But the overall concept of mixing the feeling of Clueless with My Fair Lady comes across better than one would think, thanks to some sharp social commentary.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pilot Review: How to Get Away with Murder

How to Get Away with Murder (Thursdays at 10:00 on ABC)

Much has already been made of the new series from Shonda Rhimes' production company, Shondaland, thanks mostly to a clueless, shit-stirring feature in The New York Times. A lot of the hype is justified, because How to Get Away with Murder is exactly what ABC has been promising in its heavy promotion: instantly addictive, fast-paced fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pilot Review: Black-ish

Black-ish (Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC)

Jokes about race are lazy. They're about equivalent to jokes about farts, pooping, penises, and getting high. So when Black-ish was announced, I assumed we would be getting a thirty-minute exercise in immature humor and lazy punchline writing. Imagine my surprise when a totally coherent and very intelligent show about the construction of identity emerged on ABC's Wednesday night lineup.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pilot Review: NCIS: New Orleans

NCIS: New Orleans (Tuesdays at 9:00 on CBS)

I've never watched a single moment of any previous NCIS series, so I don't know how the New Orleans extension compares to the others. But as a freestanding pilot, NCIS: New Orleans is almost a total failure. But then again, CBS probably isn't too interested in gaining new viewers with this spin-off, but rather pleasing old ones and hoping their eyes stay glued to the TV after the NCIS mothership ends at 9:00.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pilot Review: Scorpion

Scorpion (Mondays at 9:00 on CBS)

Scorpion begins with a title card: "Inspired by a true story." I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that the scene of a car chasing a low-flying plane across the runways of LAX, with the pilot hanging from the landing gear and an American Idol runner-up standing up in a speeding Ferrari while they pass an ethernet cable back and forth, isn't included in that disclaimer. That's just one in a long string of ridiculous scenes that comprise this utterly stupid pilot about, ironically, a group of super-geniuses.