Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pilot Review: Lethal Weapon & The Exorcist


Fox had two small-screen takes on big-screen hits debut this past week, continuing a trend on television we've seen for the past few years (following Limitless, Damien, Bates Motel, Fargo, Minority Report, and a slew of others). Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist each demonstrate the weaknesses and strengths that can be found in mining films for television gold.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pilot Review: Pitch


Pitch (Thursdays at 9:00 on Fox)

As much as I dislike sports, particularly baseball, I realized halfway through watching the pilot of Fox's Pitch that many of my favorite movies revolve around sports... particularly baseball. I adore Field of Dreams, Fever Pitch, and Bull Durham, and I can quote every single solitary line in A League of Their Own. So acknowledging my affinity for baseball dramas, I actually liked Pitch more than I thought I would when Fox added it to the fall schedule.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pilot Review: Bull


Bull (Tuesdays at 9:00 on CBS)

You have to love when a show announces its own quality right in the title. Bull is full of itself, in all senses of the phrase.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pilot Review: Speechless


Speechless (Wednesdays at 8:30 on ABC; Premieres September 21)

Speechless is the type of show where you are immediately going to have an opinion about it before you know anything more than its logline: "A disabled teenager and his family move into a new neighborhood so he can attend a better school." You'll either think this is a show missing from the television landscape, portraying the struggles of disabled people and those supporting them. Or you'll think it's an eye-rolling downer made to appease the PC police. Either way, Speechless is here to prove you wrong.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pilot Review: The Good Place


The Good Place (Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC)

NBC has really had a rough go of it in the comedy department of late. With the end of Parks & Recreation in the 2014-2015 season, they were left with only one returning sitcom last year, the low-rated Undateable. It was moved to Friday nights for live episodes, paired with the only new comedy NBC premiered in the fall, the swiftly canceled Truth Be Told. The winter months followed with the premieres of Superstore, a surprise success, and Telenovela, a surprising failure. Now NBC finds itself in much the same situation, with only Superstore returning to the fall schedule from last season and The Good Place being the only new comedy coming before midseason. It should help that the latter is a huge step up in quality from Truth Be Told, and its quirky, witty characters should match well with the ones on Superstore.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pilot Review: Kevin Can Wait


Kevin Can Wait (Mondays at 8:30 on CBS)

For some reason, Kevin James is one of the most popular comics in America. His stand-up sells out venues across the country; his films, which consist almost entirely of goofy family fare like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, rake in piles of money, even when critics rip them apart; and his former CBS sitcom The King of Queens ran for 9 seasons and still airs daily in syndication on multiple networks. He's our favorite, safe comedian: an unassuming, overweight New Yorker who doesn't rely on vulgarity to create humor. He also has a tendency to produce some awfully stupid material, and Kevin Can Wait is the latest.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Emmy Predictions

Rarely do the Emmys make any sense to me, but I'm throwing out my predictions for the winners anyway!

Limited Series and Television Movie

Writing: Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, The People v. OJ Simpson ("From the Ashes of Tragedy")
Directing: Ryan Murphy, The People v. OJ Simpson ("From the Ashes of Tragedy")
Supporting Actress: Jean Smart, Fargo
Supporting Actor: Sterling K. Brown, The People v. OJ Simpson
Lead Actress: Sarah Paulson, The People v. OJ Simpson
Lead Actor: Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Television Movie: All the Way
Limited Series: The People v. OJ Simpson

I feel like this is where the most competition is. So many TV films and limited series were among the best things on television this season: The People v. OJ Simpson, Fargo, Confirmation, The Night Manager, All the Way. It was an amazing year. A lot of these categories are nail-biters. I think People v. OJ walks away with the top prize. In the acting categories, I think it's a horserace between Bryan Cranston as LBJ (a role for which he already won a Tony), an actor who the Academy loves, and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. Actress is similarly close, with Paulson getting the edge over the magnificent Kirsten Dunst, who absolutely stole Fargo's second season away from everyone else on screen. A win for Kerry Washington or either woman from American Crime wouldn't suck either... basically anyone could win that category, and it would be a great choice. I think Fargo may get a trophy still for Jean Smart, though Melissa Leo, Olivia Colman, and last year's surprise winner Regina King are all equally just choices. Sterling K. Brown, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta may cancel each other out in supporting actor, but I think Brown stood out enough among his cast mates to lead the category. People v. OJ dominated the writing and directing categories (and the limited series categories, in general), so it's a safe bet it'll win there, though the question becomes for which episodes; I went with the season premiere in both cases.

Comedy

Writing: Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang, Master of None ("Parents")
Directing: Dave Stern, Veep ("Mother")
Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, Mom
Supporting Actor: Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Lead Actress: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Lead Actor: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Comedy Series: Veep

This looks like it may be a lot of repeats from last year. I'm predicting Veep to take home the top prize, with Dreyfus winning yet again as well; don't be surprised if the episode "Mother" walks away with directing and writing awards as well, though I've predicted Aziz Ansari's Netflix series Master of None to take the latter, since many cite its writing as the show's strongest point. Allison Janney and Jeffrey Tambor will likely repeat their wins from last year as well, and maybe even Tony Hale in supporting actor too. For now, I'm hoping for a course-correction win for Tituss Burgess, though it's a tight race between those two and comedy vet Louie Anderson for playing the mother of a clown (you read that right) on FX's Baskets.

Drama

Writing: Sam Esmail, Mr. Robot ("eps1.0_hellofriend.mov")
Directing: Miguel Sapochnik, Game of Thrones ("Battle of the Bastards")
Supporting Actress: Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actor: Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Lead Actress: Keri Russell, The Americans
Lead Actor: Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Drama Series: Game of Thrones

I think we may be looking at a near-sweep for Game of Thrones, which is the clear frontrunner for best series after securing more nominations than any other show. The only non-conservative prediction I've made here is for Keri Russell to win a statue for her work on The Americans, which has never been nominated before and broke through in a big way with some major nominations this year. Russell seems like the most likely of those nominations to win, though she'll have to upset last year's winner, Viola Davis, who is probably the frontrunner right now. Otherwise, Rami Malek looks poised to take the award for lead actor, likely shutting Kevin Spacey out once again, though a win for Spacey or even Robin Wright wouldn't be a total surprise. Game of Thrones may clean house in supporting categories as well, and I'm also predicting it for directing and wouldn't be shocked if it took writing, too, but Esmail's script for Mr. Robot was more unique and current.

The Emmys air Sunday night, September 18, on ABC.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pilot Review: Son of Zorn


Son of Zorn (Sundays at 8:30 on Fox, beginning September 25)

Smell that? It's the beginning of the fall season. That mixture of hope and excitement and dread is beginning to fill the air as we wait in anticipation to see what the networks have in store for us this season. For the first time in many years, there are no new comic book adaptations or superhero shows on the fall schedule; but Fox has given us something comic book-adjacent with Son of Zorn, a half-animated, half-live action series about a He-Man looking cartoon character who leaves his animated island to reconnect with the live action world of his ex-wife and teenage son.

Yeah, that other thing you smell? That waft of dank, fecal unpleasantness? It's this show.