Taking the hit: Pilot Season
This is a journal of my experiences with 2014 pilot/premiere season. Some shows are coming out that look exciting, some are coming out that look repulsive, I will be watching them all and telling you how worthwhile these shows really are.
If you’re looking for new shows to get hooked on, I’ll tell you which drug dealer to go see. I’m putting this up after the big push, but there are still a few shows to come, come back for updates when they are released so I can tell you which to watch and which to avoid.
ABC kicks off another season of mediocrity perched on the broad shoulders of Modern Family. As always it’s added; as always they all look really bad, but I’ll watch them anyway, for you. No but really, have you seen the shit ABC is trying to add to their lineup this year?
Wow… I can’t say that no one was expecting this because I kept seeing it one “Critics Choice” lists. But I can say that no one I know saw this coming. I was under the impression that Black-ish would not only be offensive but extraordinarily unfunny.
Black-ish is not on track to be Community, You’re the Worst, Silicon Valley, or Louie—it does have a very solid chance of being the next Modern Family. It’s broad comedy which will never be great but could be pretty good. And it’s tackling some pretty impressive questions, or it looks like it could at least. Questions about race and black identity that are usually not reserved for a primetime sitcom on ABC (the second worst network). It could continue to be impressive—or it could fall off like The Leftovers after a good pilot.
Verdict: I’m watching I want to see if Anthony Anderson and Lawrence Fishburn can overcome the rest of the tepid cast.
Breaking news from the land of shit sitcoms the newest shit sitcom has arrived. Cristela is awful no if ands or buts. It has a an awful cast, a miserable writer, and a laugh track. It’s basically ever single camera sitcom that has come out in the last 5 years without any laughs or redeeming qualities. It cashes in hard on its latino cast making a seemingly infinite string of jokes about being latina, and when it’s not doing that its making a second seemingly endless string of fat jokes. So if you’re thing is unfunny race related knock knock jokes or depressing puns about obese people this is your thing, but you’re probably too busy reading young adult literature and watching original ABC Family programming.
On the plus side with this back-to-back with Last Man Standing on Friday night. ABC has put together the single worst hour on television since someone gave the Brady bunch a variety hour. So congratulations on that.
Verdict: Someone, somehow made a sitcom worse than Mulaney.
Manhattan Love Story
This is all you need to know about Manhattan Love Story, it’s a show entirely told through voiceovers of two apparently very self involved people who are destined to fall in love. It’s also not funny. I think it’s supposed to be a romantic comedy but it has also made me laugh less than any show ever (and I just had to sit through 46 minutes of Stalker). Analeigh Tipton is cute as can be, a little too cute, it gets tiring about 15 minutes in to the 22 minute run time watching her stumble through the dirty streets on NYC dough eyed and sickeningly innocent.
Jake McDorman, the standard lady-killer character from the beginning of every romcom in this decade, plays an asshole–well. If this show is to be saved it will not be by the writers (inept), the director (hamfisted), or the supporting cast (dull). It’ll be because Tipton is good and McDorman manages to drum up some chemistry.
Verdict: We don’t need another one of these shows.
I love John Cho and Karen Gillian so I really wanted this show to be good despite the trailers which spoke to nothing but a terrible awful unwatchable mess. It was just that. It’s one saving grace besides Karen and John, no laugh track.
I’m going to watch a few more episodes but only because I’m hoping for the best, even though I know I will be disappointed.
Verdict: Cancel. Then give John Cho and Karen Gillian another show something on FX, like You’re the Worst or Married.
The weirdest concept of the bunch. A man who can’t die who uses his immortality and abundance of experience to catch the criminals. There isn’t much to say about this show, it’s a police procedural with a twist, like all of them, it’s about a quirky guy alongside a straight laced female cope, like all of them.
These type of shows live and die on the merit of their cast because originality is not an option. And in this cast it hits, hard. Ioan Gruffudd, the modern Dorian Grey, is great the same can be said for Alana De La Garza, Joel David Moore, and Judd Hirsch.
Verdict: If you’re not sick of the CSI knock-offs and you want a new one to watch, this is the one for you.
How to Get Away with Murder
I can’t stand Scandal so I was coming into this with a lot of bias. But I tried with all my soul to appreciate the heavy-handed, room full of ruthless lawyers, powerful black woman cliché that is How to Get Away with Murder. As would be expected from this Scandal pseudo-spinoff it’s a very scandalous universe; everyone is fucking everyone else and a few law students killed a guy, lawyers are lying and breaking the law, and sinewy black lieutenants get into all kinds of trouble.
This is the least realistic show on TV right now, and I just finished watching a show about a 9000 year old alien with a Scottish accent who travels through time and space saving the universe in a blue telephone box. It is very soap opera like which is entertaining and it’s no Fargo by any chance and its certainly no Sherlock but as far as crime dramas go, you could do worse.
Verdict: Viola Davis is fun, Alfred Enoch is great, this show is ehh. But it’ll be around for eternity so if it’s on watch it.
Amazon Pilot Season
This is the most promising thing to come out of TV since HBO started producing original content. Amazon just dropped their pilots on Prime and asked you to decide. Which in the internet age makes Amazon the only “television” network not living in 1994. It’s really easy now to ask people what they want and for some reason no one has done it yet. Because NBC could’ve saved themselves a lot of heartache if they had just asked us if we wanted a show written and starring Whitney Cummings—surprise, doesn’t no one want that shit. The shows Amazon gave us to choose from weren’t life shattering but I was just happy to see that someone was willing to ask me. The dark side of this is that the general population is full of fucking morons and I fear that this might lead to a network full of police procedurals and single-camera laugh track sitcoms, at which point I’d blow my brains out and cry tears of sorrow.
The long and short of this show, someone made a Woody Allen movie into a half hour sitcom in Paris. If you’re a real Francophile this might actually be for you. You can stop reading now if the words Woody Allen and Paris gave you a flutter in your heart, this show is for you. All the rest of you that aren’t white people whose favorite book is written by Hemmingway I’ll give you some more information.
The show starts Adam Brody and a bunch of people you’ve never heard of before. The acting so far is very, close up, the show lives in the shot-reverse-shot world where understated dialogue is king. Unfortunately for them the only saving grace of shows that rely on my interest in rich white people sitting around drinking wine and being clever is that they actually have to be clever. The dialogue is dull but has some promise and I hope that promise pays off because otherwise the characters seem boring and there isn’t really a plot.
Although I can’t say I would be all that unhappy with just watching Carrie MacLemore wear black cocktail dresses to Parisian parties a couple times a week.
Verdict: Give it three episodes and we’ll see
Someone gave Jay Chandrasekhar a show. Which is a great idea, he’s hilarious. But then someone—maybe Jay—put Sarah Chalke in it, terrible idea. So the show that Jay Chandrasekhar decided to make was an adult version of Modern Family.
The concept is that there are three couples starring such highlights as Selma Blair, Luka Jones, and Hayes MacArthur and one single guy. They all list the suburban life, but as we find out throughout the episode the pleasant suburban white picket fence and weekly friend meet ups is not all that there is to these white people (and one Indian guy). It’s a concept so over played and outdated that I was that I was tempted to write it off right off the bat. But the writing is clever enough and it stars a lot of funny people and one comedy blackhole so I gave it a good review; I’m intrigued.
Verdict: Let’s pick it up for a season… or two
Amazon’s golden boy right now. A coming of age sitcom set in the 80s starring a lot of people you forgot you liked. The long and short of it is there are two boys, David and Wheeler (Craig Roberts & Oliver Cooper) working at a country club over the summer, and like all boys over the summer are also trying to have sex. Hilarity ensues right? Admittedly it seems like hilarity might actually ensue.
I made the mistake of scanning through some comments and they were overwhelmingly positive and the few negatives had one complaint in common. Too many naked women. Which one, isn’t a complaint that matters because if, like the people who get offended at cursing, you really think that speaks to the quality of the show you should just stick to watching your ABC sitcoms and let us all be. And two, it wasn’t true, two naked women is hardly “too many” by any measure.
Verdict: This looks good, give us more of this
Hand of God
The guy who played Hellboy plays an angry judge who finds god and god tells him to go ape shit. I think I covered the important points of the show. He then let’s a convicted felon off on felony assault charges because the convicted felon claims jesus. Then cut to adulterous sex scene. In case you haven’t caught on yet this show has it all, the whole bag of crazy.
People love this… it’s close to literally murdering it on the ratings. I fear this may be another Orange is the New Black, Walking Dead, Lost, Breaking Bad where everyone loves it and I’m just bored to tears. Ron Pearlman is not great, he really isn’t. This show seems to have no idea where it’s going and that always screams alarm for me. Remember The Leftovers? It had a fantastic pilot episode a 9/10 but not direction; then episode two was easily one of the worst episodes I’ve seen on television all year.
The show serves up a heap load of shock and awe including super religion and forced nudity. If there’s anything I hate more than religion and weird semi-rape scenes I don’t know what they are.
Verdict: Ugh, fine I’ll watch it—for a while.
The synopsis says, “An Amazon Original Pilot: An investigative thriller about a haunted young doctor who is summoned back to her hometown to investigate an epidemic that may be linked to social media – and her own tragic past.” I guess that’s what happened? The pilot was so convoluted and all over the place it’s hard to see where this show could go except down a Lost drain of questions that never have any answers.
The pilot is a lot of girls getting raped and having seizures which while upsetting to watch (that’s kind of the point actually as the doctor finds out at the end of the episode) don’t make much sense as far as the good doctor is concerned. The acting was subpar at best and the writing is cluttered. I am intrigued by the simple fact that the show is intriguing, it’s easy to be intriguing, it’s hard to be good. This show isn’t good.
Verdict: If Amazon has to pick up a drama, don’t make it this one.
CBS is clearly planning on just being the network of “the same shit.” Every new pilot is they are releasing is going to be, the same shit we’ve always seen. They are decidedly taking no chances at all and that might pay off. Then again, that might bite them in the ass like it has for the last 5 years now.
The McCarthys (Update)
So we’re just turning out shit sitcoms left and right now? Is there more money in garbage than I originally thought or something? The McCarthys is a show about a Boston family where the main character is the gay son who doesn’t like sports unlike everyone else in his basketball obsessed family. Kelen Coleman is literally the only thing that I was excited about in this show and they trotted her out in a black cocktail dress as soon as they could. Just like all the single camera comedies on TV now, it’s not funny and at times offensive.
Verdict: The only show that ever made me think to myself, “Wouldn’t this be better in Indiana?”
Maybe it’s because House of Cards exists now but this show about political intrigue is so very unintriguing (I know it’s not a fucking word, I have a computer too). The cast is awful and in a show about shit that happens in board room you pretty much live and die by your actors. The guy who’s married to Christina Hendricks is first billed even though Téa Leoni is the main character. And yes Leoni is as awful as you remember her being in literally everything she’s ever been in.
Verdict: Can you keep a show and recast literally everyone? If so I would be interested to see this show with Mira Sorvino or Vera Farmiga.
NCIS: New Orleans
Literally the same thing as all the other NCIS’s on TV. If you like those, you’ll like this. It stars an old white guy, backed by a team so intentionally diverse it could be a jury. This time it’s in New Orleans though so that could give the producers an opportunity for a pretty great soundtrack and beautiful on site shooting.
Verdict: The same thing as the last thing that was relatively okay.
This show is terrible! Must I continue?
It’s a show about smart people that keep shouting “I’m smart” at everyone. The only thing worse than the terrible writing, the ham fisted plot construction, and the ridiculous everything (they flew a plane five feet above a Lamborghini and then passed a laptop…. Never mind you don’t need to know the extent of the stupidity) is Jadyn Wong. Jadyn Wong plays an angry, engineer? or maybe she’s a… idk, she’s a genius though as they keep shouting at everyone.
Verdict: This is the worst show so far, but only because Jane the Virgin and Cristela haven’t aired yet. So there’s hope for the loathsome team of geniuses. Did I mention they’re geniuses?
Congratulations Stalker, you are officially the least fun show on TV. You managed to beat out a show that is the spin-off of a spin-off who stage a dramatized version of a rape, child molestation, or violent prostitution every episode from real life.
I don’t know about the general public but I–a man with very high tolerance for violence–will not continue watching a show in which every episode will be about a helpless woman being petrified for an hour and then sometimes being lit on fire and dying shrieking in a flaming car. It is apparent show runners are taking after The Leftovers and just trying to make their shows as difficult to watch as is physically possible.
But if you love psychological thrillers that will keep you intentionally uneasy for the hour long episode (which will feel like 2 hours) this is the show for you. Maggie Q plays a detective in the stalking unit who was once or is currently being stalked so watching her go to sleep every night–which i guarantee the show will continue to do– is nerve-racking. Dylan McDermott plays a very charming stalker who investigates stalkers in a completely unsurprising twist.
Everything you’re hearing about the show is true, it’s acted well and it’s intriguing, but its unnecessarily violent and in 2014 its just ill-timed. Anyone who reads the newspaper or lives in society has no interest in watching women get tormented for another hour every week.
The most sickening detail of the entire thing though is that is seems as though the show is incapable of conceiving of a woman who isn’t helpless. The powerful business woman, confident detective, and the girl next door; all helpless at the hands of patriarchy and misogyny.
Verdict: The cast is really good, it’s just a shame this show is unwatchable.
I don’t want to watch these. Don’t make me watch CW programing. I can count on Jamie Lannister’s right hand how many shows worth watching the CW has ever produced I don’t expect that to change this year but hey, I’ve been surprised before, FX and Comedy Central were trash before and now they can’t seem to miss.
Jane the Virgin
I really don’t like this show. But to be fair it might be because it has literally everything I hate in both TV and life: bullshit love stories, a voiceover, pregnancy, babies, religion, abstinence, people claiming attachment to a thing that’s growing inside of them that they neither wanted nor are ready for, ugly ass crying faces, shitty non-diegetic music, pseudo-quirky directing which is really unoriginal shit stolen from Indie Comedy movies from the early 2000s, having no idea whether it’s a comedy or drama, “wise” old people, religion, basically every trope from every bad show ever, Gina Rodriguez (she’s new to this list but she’s here to stay), people asking “do you regret having me mom”, religion, people who can’t dance–dancing, religion, gold diggers, people who say “she’s dead to me”, doctor scenes with would-never-come-out-a-doctor’s mouth dialogue, police drama cliches (yeah I was surprised too), flash backs with acoustic guitar music, proposals, religion, telenovellas, people staying “for the kids”, kids, high heels, he’s a bad guy pretending to be good storylines, to be continues screens, Juanes (he’s also new to the list but that nigga is also here to stay), religion, people sueing doctors, “hot” moms who are just slutty and stupid, religion, this fucking show.
Verdict: Apparently it’s the most critically acclaimed new show of the year, so either everyone is actually as stupid as I think, or I’m as stupid as I think everyone else is.
The big question that everyone is asking and will continue to ask, is The Flash better than Gotham. The answer is… sort of but in a more real way, not even a little. So this is the origin story of Barry Allen, the dollar store Spider-Man of the DC universe. The only way this could’ve been a dumber origin story was if they went with Aquaman who’s fantastical abilities include the ability to swim fast and to ask goldfish to grab his glasses from “just right over there; no right there–you see em?” But aside from the fact that I hate The Flash–because super speed is the stupidest power– this show is not all that terrible, surprisingly enough . It’s got the usual issues that come with being on a bottom tier network: bad writers, cheap actors, slim pickings of directors, and unimaginative special effects.
The Flash still manages to be entertaining nonetheless. The cheap actors perform the cheesy writing with a certain aplomb and the idea of a Misfits-esque romp through Central City seems like it could be fun. A new villain, created by the storm, shows up weekly until we find out what the story is with Harrison Wells, Iris and Barry get together, and Zoom and Captain Cold show up.
I’m not going to watch, but I also don’t watch Arrow or Small village. If you liked those–I’ve heard this is better so far. This show is very clearly not for me but maybe those of you out there who didn’t just spend $60 on a Marvel Unlimited subscription will love it.
Verdict: You’d be far better reading the comics because the likes of Grant Morrison write with drastically more imagination than anyone employed by the CW.
Fox’s 2014 pilot season is really really safe. Safe can either be good or it can be boring, we’ll see. It’s really safe in 2014 to adapt Batman’s origin story into a TV show, it’s really safe to remake a BBC hit… with the same lead, it’s even safer to give the sitcom nod to the guy next door stand up, and it’s just as safe to greenlight a drama about dying kids with cancer in a hospital. We’ll see if this lack of risk pays off.
Do you really love John Mulaney’s well good for you because this is just his stand up. The punch lines, the set ups, and the I’m-a-four-year-old-boy delivery it’s all exactly the same. This time there’s just a terrible set design, awful art team, 1980’s laugh track, sickening supporting cast, and basically everything you hated about every show on ABC, on Fox.
I watched that one John Mulaney special on Netflix, I do not like this guy. So just a worse rehash of the exact special I watched is not something I wanted.
Verdict: Stop doing this. It worked like one time back in 1994 and networks keep trying it. If you’re going to give a stand up a show give it to someone smart.
This show will go far; it’s the show we all wanted so it’ll be on for at least #sixseasonsandamovie. Well I guess I should say it’s almost the show we wanted. Batman and Gotham’s origin story told through the dark gritty lens of a young commissioner Gordon, who is just a rookie detective when the show starts, that’s the show we wanted. What we got instead was packaged with easily one of the worst casts on a flagship drama on a network who are burdened with terrible possibly intentionally campy writing. Ben McKenzie, of The O.C. fame is the best choice in this show and that should tell you all you need to know. It turns out Jada Pinkett Smith is just as terrible at acting as we remember. Donal Logue is just as irritating and Robin Lord Taylor is just as overwhelming.
This show could pull itself together, and I really want it to because watching Gordon, Bullock, Bruce Wayne, Copplepot, and the countless over DC staples form their way into the characters that we know and love sounds fantastic. The best news from the pilot Smith plays a Gotham original character, Fish Mooney so she can die and not fuck with the timeline—fingers crossed.
Verdict: Well that was disappointing, but not really all that surprising if I’m being honest.
This is a shot for shot remake of the British television drama Broadchurch. I did not know it was a shot for shot remake or I wouldn’t have even bothered. Broadchurch was fantastic, like FX’s Fargo it managed to be dark and entertaining but still charming. Gracepoint somehow… is none of those things. But the truth is Broadchuch is very difficult to get in the states so if you haven’t seen it, which most of you haven’t this will do… I suppose. But for those of you that have the internet and know how to type words into boxes I will answer your burning questions:
Anna Gunn is terrible, just as bad as I remember her being in Breaking Bad. And Olivia Colman, her ITV counterpart, is 1000 times better. I mean honestly how can you simultaneously be an overactor and a dead fish on camera… those things seem like opposites.
Jodie Whittaker is better than Virginia Kull.
Let me save you some time–every single person on Broadchuch is better than every single person on Gracepoint. Even David Tennant is far better without a admittedly okay American accent.
Verdict: Just watch Broadchurch. There is no point for this show to exist. It’s Broadchurch with all the fun sucked out of it and garbage bin actors.
Red Band Society
I hate sentiment. I can stomach a bit, but 44 straight minutes of unwatchable heavy handed Kleenex bullshit is not a show. The pilot literally ends with a boy on his way to surgery to lose his leg running through the halls of the hospital to some indy rock song giving tokens to his new dying friends. Ten minutes into the episode I was bored, 30 minutes in I was insulted, 40 minutes in I was sick of it.
Verdict: No thank you, I’ll pass on this Hallmark Channel reject.
A to Z
So let me get this straight, they just made How I Met Your Mother again, starring the actress who played the mother? Why’d they do that? Ben Feldman is severely wasted on this show but as far as romantic comedy sitcoms go this is actually not that bad. Simply because Feldman and Milioti are so good. This is hardly my thing, but it isn’t bad think the first 4 seasons of How I Met Your Mother and not the last 5.
Verdict: We should all give it a chance
A bad behavior comedy that could’ve been good, but was run through the studio system so much it became another cliched annoyance that appears to have been directed by a ITT film student.
Kate Walsh is half naked a lot and she calls a lot of people dude. But it is clear that all the fun has been sucked out of this show. There isn’t one thing wrong with it, it’s just a lot of things not right with it.
Verdict: Giving this show to anyone from Nurse Jackie was a bad idea, and it shows.
I’m not really sure what this show is going to be about unless they plan to have botched proposal after proposal until we run though 8 seasons. But if the show continues like it is it could be a fun watch. Pilot episodes of sitcoms are usually far worse than the show themselves, while its the opposite for drama. But this pilot held up pretty well. Ken Marino and Casey Wilson have great chemistry and the supporting cast has some interesting faces in it if not derivative characters. There’s a fat guy best friend who has none of his shit together, a hot best friend who does yoga a lot, and of course since it’s after 2009 there’s a black guy and some gay people, they doubled up because the black guy is gay but it’s Tim Meadows so it doesn’t bother me too much.
The writers are funny if not at times boringly predictable and there is little place for story development with such a short sited premise but if they can plow through both of those issues this might be a good show.
Verdict: The pilot was good, but I fear the show is doomed to mediocrity.
Having never read the Hellblazer graphic novels I didn’t really know what to expect from this show. And also having never read the graphic novels I have little to say about this show. Matt Ryan is good and the show is funnier than I expected from its premise. It looks like a TV show, which normally isn’t an issue, but when you have CGI insects crawling around that look like they belong in a 90s Nickelodeon show it’s going to take me out of the moment.
Constantine’s biggest saving grace is that there really isn’t anything else like it on TV so as long as it’s pretty good it’ll continue to be a show to watch.
Verdict: Even if the show’s charm doesn’t do it for you Matt Ryan has enough charisma to carry this show.
The Mysteries of Laura
It’s another police procedural with a predictable twist, this time it’s terrible. Harried female cop, Debra Messing, juggles being a badass cop and twin sons. The show is patronizing and insulting, but most offensively it’s extraordinarily dull and unoriginal.
State of Affairs
Premieres: November 17th at 10/9c
Other Big Premieres
I do think we have officially found this years show. That is until Game of Thrones and Mad Men come back. The Affair is about an extramarital relationship between Noah Solloway and Alison Bailey. The first episode is told through flashbacks of the two in separate interrogation rooms sitting across from a detective. The same story is told twice through their separate perspectives and not so spoiler alert, they’re super different. The show is shot spectacularly and the entire cast is amazing. It’s hard to decide which storyline I like best so far because they are both pretty upsetting. Noah’s story is the only time I’ve ever shouted, “Kill that kid for real this time!” then five minutes later, “You’ve got the dumbest fucking kids!” only to later exclaim, “don’t you get in that god damn shower! Don’t you do it!” But its pretty clear Alison’s story will be the more interesting of the two because in her story Noah is kind of creepy and a little bit of a dick and the journey to affair and later to the probable murder of one of their partners. In Noah’s story it just seems like Alison is a witch and he is susceptible to jedi mind tricks (yeah I know I just mixed two different geek mythologies together).
For a show about sex with so much in it, it is very unsexy. There are four really trying sex scenes and a hole bunch of annoying kids. But despite all that I am really interested to see where this goes. Ruth Wilson was fantastic on Luther and Dominic West was on The Wire so you know he’s got my vote of confidence.
Verdict: It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma poured into a small beach town starring Alice, the greatest woman ever on television. What’s not to love.
Starz hase decided to make black(ish) Entourage. Mike O’Malley, the shows creator and writer, is as white as it gets and the rest of the behind the scenes is whiter than white. Oh yeah except one Lebron James, who you may know from playing basketball. This show is full of as many likable people as were on Entourage. And as little respect for women and my intelligence as Entourage had. It’s sold as a comedy but has few punchlines and little charm.
The good of the show: it’s very brown and its pretty damn smart. Brown and smart are depressingly do not usually go hand in hand. The writing sounds like real people talking, really smart people talking, but I never get to see people like me talk like my friends and I talk and that was a pleasant surprise. Even if it was technically the words of a the white man.
Verdict: It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. But save Mike Epps, Mo McRae, and RonReacon Lee there is little else to like about this.