Pilot Season III- Return to Pilottopia

For the past two years I’ve put myself through far more pain than I should’ve for the number of readers that I have.  But because I’m dumber than I look, for the third year in a row I watch all the new shows, so that you don’t have to–unless they’re good then I’ll tell you to.  But spoiler alert, most of this shit is more pain than pleasure.

The grades for each episode is not solely an indication of the quality of the pilot episode, the idea is to grade how worthwhile it will to be to watch the show going forward.  A good pilot episode does not always mean a good show, and vice versa.

ABC

Comedies

American Housewife – Update

Isn’t it hilarious how fat Katy Mixon is?! Isn’t it?! Don’t you find it so funny?! No. Shame.  Because that’s the only joke you’re getting from American Housewife’s pilot episode.  The show is fine I guess.  Ali Wong is wasted on this show though, there’s just better things that someone could’ve done with this supporting cast.  But I assume that’s why ABC pushed it out of peek because they think this show can grab a demographic but outside of that don’t have much hope for American Housewife going down the line.

Grade: D

Speechless

Speechless.png

Everyone is abuzz over Micah Fowler who plays J. J. on ABC’s new comedy about a dysfunctional family with a handicap son after they move to a new school and town to accommodate him.  Unfortunately for Fowler there isn’t really any hope for this show unless it has a strong vocal fan base to keep it on air.  But other than the pretty ambitious choice in casting, Fowler himself is disabled like his character, nothing else works for Speechless.  The cast is a bunch of old faces you will recognized as playing bit parts in other failed sitcoms and the writing is up to the standard of those other failed shows.  I always like to wish for the best when it comes to shows like this but ABC and Scott Silveri have proved that they are not up to this task.  Even though I liked the first half of Go On’s short lived run I think Silveri’s work on Joey and Perfect Couples speaks for itself.

Grade: C-

Dramas

Conviction-Update

What?  Why does this show exist? From the pilot it really does seem like the goal was just to put Hayley Atwell in lingerie, put Hayley Atwell in tight dresses, and to make jokes about Hayley Atwell’s boobs.  I have no problem with this pursuit if I’m being honest but this isn’t really TV.  Also it does feel like there’s enough objectification of women as there is, maybe we don’t need a poorly acted, terribly written, awfully directed vehicle for Hayley Atwell’s breasts.  I just don’t understand the casting choices.  Some of the stars of Conviction are Shawn Ashmore, most famous for being in a bad video game; Eddie Cahill, most famous for being in a bad spin off; and Manny Montana, who was once most famous for playing the charming fuck up on Graceland but is now most famous for shout acting the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard at a severe looking Hayley Atwell.  Conviction is about lawyers… maybe, they seem to investigate old cases… I guess, and they either try to get people off of prove that their already where they’re supposed to be in jail… I think.  Don’t watch Conviction, it’s entirely pointless and there are just much better versions of this show.  If you’re very invested in Hayley Atwell doing coke and lawyering in sexy clothing and you have an hour to spare a week I guess this is the show for you but you also might just like porn better than TV I think.

Grade: D

Designated Survivor

Do you love exposition and on the nose foreshadowing dialogue?  Did you love 24 but really hate all the excitement, car chases, and explosions?  Have you always wished House of Cards had a much had far worse production and somehow an even less realistic representation of modern Washington?  Do you love NCIS but hate crime solving? Than Kiefer Sutherland’s new show is the show for you.If those things do not speak to you however I think there is then Designated Survivor might not be for you.

Following the most devastating terror attack in American history, join the Kirkman family as they navigate their home life. And marvel at Tom Kirkman a loving father and husband who is so good with his kids and adorably bad at making eggs.  This show suffers from the same issues as Quantico before it; the few things that are interesting in the show are overshadowed by the stakes of the main plot which are just too big to also have a B-story about a son who loves coding and dubstep.  I just don’t give a shit the entire US government has been murdered.  I also don’t really care all that much about the mutiny being planned by the most obviously evil general since Grievous.  Half of this show is an interesting story, the story of Tom Kirkman, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who hates his job and bureaucracy and is all of a sudden not only the president of the United States but the last surviving American politician.  I’m also interested in Kal Penn’s goofy charm but that goes without saying.

Grade: B

Notorious

Notorious.png

Two USA alumns come together on ABC’s Notorious to continue their blue-skies drama work on an ABC drama that I don’t really understand.  I’m not clear where this show is going after this.  Is this just going to be the story of this dead woman.  Or is it going to be a week to week procedural with the producer of a gossip news show and her lawyer friend?  And then why are they the main characters of this show?  The first episode of Notorious is all over the place tonally, and as far as the plot was concerned, there really wasn’t one.  The show really has no idea what it wants from its over-the-top dialogue to its entirely pointless B-plots.  I like Danial Sunjata I think he plays a great handsome man, but he’s wasted on this show, and so is your time.

Grade: D

CBS

Comedies

The Great Indoors

the-great-indoors

Air date: Oct 27

Kevin Can Wait

This is a joke right?  I mean, not the actual show there weren’t any jokes to be found there.  But the fact that someone at CBS not only proposed this show, but at least one other jackass green lit this thing.  If you’re reading this there is basically no way you were planning on watching this show anyway so I will tell you I sat through all 21 minutes and 12 seconds and it is just as bad as you knew it would be.  There was a time that Kevin James wasn’t terrible–it was when he was a nothing character in a silly romcom carried firmly on the back of Will Smith and Eva Mendes.  This is really not that.  There isn’t really much to say about this, its every multi-camera sitcom you’ve seen since 1990 with no jokes and less acting.  It will undoubtedly last as long as Mike and Molly a show that somehow got six seasons even though there wasn’t a single redeeming element of that show.

Grade: F

Man With A Plan

Air date: Oct 24

Dramas

Bull

bull

The guy from NCIS left NCIS to just be on a different CBS procedural?  Why?  I don’t even really understand this move at all.  I guess it’s entirely possible that there is something about working on that show because it does seem to shed cast members who end up making lateral or backward career moves.

I actually really like the idea of Bull but like the Wanted movie and Matt Miller’s Forever before it, it’s just such a good idea executed so very poorly.  Michael Weatherly is his smirking self assured self once again but even his annoying boyish charm isn’t enough to make his character watchable.  Dr. Bull is Dr. House without wit and without any of the clever bite and even House wore on audiences’ nerves after too long.  There isn’t much help for Weatherly in the cast and his usual move of playing off deadpan Mark Harmon doesn’t work here.

Grade: D

MacGyver

The network that brought you Scorpion brings you the 2016 MaGyver reboot. Yet another reskin of a show done 1000 times with a different diverse cast.  This time the cast just isn’t diverse.  George Eads returns to CBS as the same character he’s always played along side Lucas Till, the worst part of the best X-Men movies; and Tristin Mays, literally no one.  I don’t know what else to say about yet another episodic TV show that’s also yet another remake, that’s also yet another B-List movie star comes to TV show, that’s also yet another PG-13 action-crimes show.  There is nothing at all special about this show, if you were a huge MacGyver fan and don’t really need this to be a faithful reboot and is instead just a show with a lot of nods to classic MacGyver shticks like paper clips and a few mentions of bubble gum.

Grade: C-

Pure Genius

Air date: Oct 27

CW

Comedies

No Tomorrow – Update

no-tomorrow

The CW continues to have no idea how to foster talent.  The writing, the acting, the directing, and the marketing for No Tomorrow are terrible.  There isn’t a single redeeming thing about this show except maybe that it doesn’t star Kevin James or have a laugh track.  It makes sense that the CW would be incapable of finding good shows, their ratings are so terrible that show runners would be more likely to get a wider range for their audience if they gave their shows to Hulu or Starz.  The only place more likely to kill your viewership than the CW is Crackle–and even Crackle manages to get decent programming.  Don’t watch No Tomorrow.

Grade: F

Dramas

Frequency – Update

Poor poor poor Mekhi Phifer.  This show is based on a 2000 Dennis Quaid movie of the same name.  You can watch it now on Cinemax.  This show isn’t horrible.  Detective Raimy Sullivan stats talking to her father in the past with his ham radio, chaos ensues.  It’s a solid concept, but I can hardly credit the show for that.  The execution is mostly rocky but its not unwatchable.  Some of the cast is decent.  Peyton List seems to be in a completely different melodrama than all the rest of the cast.  If you really love the Butterfly Effect and are fascinated with that, that’s really the best thing this show does.  If you don’t really care about how little things Frank Sullivan does in 1996 are going to change 2016 then there isn’t much else in this show for you.  The ratings have already been terrible but the good news for its 3 fans is that because its on the CW that won’t matter because all of their ratings are terrible.  It’ll be back for season two for sure unless Frank fucks something up in 96 and tanks the ratings even more.  They could improve this show exponentially by firing their entire makeup department; it’s the worst makeup I’ve ever seen on TV.

Grade: D

Fox

Comedies

Son of Zorn

son-of-zorn

The newest addition to Fox’s Sunday comedy lineup is a lot like their last addition to their comedy lineup, The Last Man On Earth.  It seems like a bold choice for a network show but it quickly becomes just another sitcom.  At least Son of Zorn has a good cast unlike many of the new sitcoms this season.  There is a lot of physical comedy to be mined from a cartoon character but I can’t help thinking this show would have been better with Jason Sudeikis in a He-Man costume instead of voicing a He-Man knock off cartoon.  I will keep watching this show like I did with The Last Man On Earth but the truth is I think just like that one Fox will get it’s fingers into a fun concept and turn it into a boring show by pushing it more and more toward a “comfortable” sitcom.

Grade: C+

Dramas

The Exorcist

the-exorcist

I didn’t know anything about The Exorcist going in, which in the case of this show might be a good thing.  It’s also based off the William Blatty novel of the same title, just like the 1973 film–of the same title.  But it doesn’t seem to have much in common with the film at all besides the fact that its main character is an exorcist.  There are things that work about The Exorcist, it has an aesthetic which of course isn’t rare if you’ve watched any good TV in the last five years but if you’ve only watched network television then you could have missed out.  The first episode is actually directed by Rupert Wyatt the same man who brought us Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Gambler which seems like a very big name for Fox to get for a middling drama at best.  The only problem with The Exorcist is its really just a worse version of Outcast which isn’t particularly amazing either.  So if you really liked Outcast but just really wanted it to be more PG than this is the show for you.  The pilot episode is kind of a mess narratively it just jumps from location to location and between a bunch of characters that  all seem to have equal claim to the main character role through the first episode.  The most pointless story line is the Rance family; three pretty white women and a mentally handicapped father.  The pilot episode suffers tremendously when they are on screen.  Between not caring about teen angst and really not about whatever Geena Davis is whining about there isn’t much to this story line at all.  But it is TV, so they will be around for a while.  It’s a real shame because Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas Ortega is charismatic enough to carry this show on his own if they would let him.

Grade: B-

Lethal Weapon

Why didn’t we learn our lesson last year?  Rush Hour was a out and out failure, both in ratings and critical response. And not even 12 months later we’re at it again, reviving a beloved buddy cop movie with two far less charismatic stars in a format that it was never intended for.  I was never all that attached to Lethal Weapon not like I was the first two Rush Hour films that is, but even I can see this is a poor imitation of the Riggs and Murtaugh experience.  While they didn’t make the same mistake as Bill Lawrence did last year with Rush Hour and literally include jokes and plot points from the first movie in the pilot episode.  But then that of course leads me to an entirely different and somehow more infuriating problem.  The connection between the show Lethal Weapon and the 80’s film is minimal at best besides Riggs’ suicidal thoughts linked to the death of his wife (a scene we of course need to watch in this version of the Riggs’ backstory).  The show is inoffensive in its dullness and lack of imagination, but it is also very much not worth the 18+ hours it would take to watch this first season.  Honestly its not even worth the 42 minutes it would take to watch the pilot episode.

Grade: C-

Pitch

pitch

If Atlanta is a show made in a lab for me personally, Pitch is essentially the opposite.  I’ve never liked cheesy sports movies, I really don’t like baseball, and I really hate Ali Larter.  Trying my best during the 46 minute runtime, that felt more like an hour and a half, to distance myself from my personal feelings.  I even watched the pilot twice to make sure that everything I really disliked about this show was not related to my personal feelings about it, and instead actually had to do with how bad it was.  The first episode of Pitch is all over the place, jumping from flashbacks and modern story and going back and forth between over-exaggerating and under-valuing the importance of what its main character is doing in the show.  Ginny Baker the titular and main character is pretty dull, Kylie Bunbury does her best with the character but with the awful dialogue and the supporting cast she’s dealt there really isn’t much hope.  Pitch leans so heavily on every sports movie cliche that it crawls up it’s own ass at about the 10 minute mark. From the borderline abusive father figure, to the comeback storyline there isn’t a moment that is new or interesting in this show, they even dusted of Mark-Paul Gosselaar to play the tough love bad boy teammate.  The whole episode comes to a head with the most obvious twist.  The most offensive thing about Pitch is that it’s a sports movie.  A movie, at best you could get one season of passable story out of this, there’s a reason you’ve never seen a good sports movie sequel.

Grade: D-

FX/FXX

Comedies

Atlanta

Atlanta is the best show on TV right now period.  If you’re not watching it you need to.  Donald Glover and FX have made something special here.

Grade: A+

Better Things

better-things

Louis C. K. joins forces once again with Pamela Adlon in her newest comedy.  People that enjoyed Louie and Lucky Louie will enjoy Better Things, obviously.  The show is less experimental than Louie and less dated than Lucky Louie and Louis C. K. is behind the camera this timing.  Adlon shines as the star of her own show for the first time, watching Better Things I kept wondering why it took so long.  While Better Things is a few years too late to be ground breaking in servicing its target audience it is still good to see a show about real women.  Pamela Adlon is funny, and with Louis C. K. back to writing comedy this is a pretty great addition to the FX signature comedy lineup.  Better Things suffers from the Gordon Hayward paradox.  Yeah Hayward is a really good basketball player, the problem is there are at least 5 people who do the exact same thing as him better.  Louis C. K.’s comedy has made its way all throughout television; now you have so many options for this from Fleabag to You’re the Worst to Wilfred to any number of shows that range from bad to great and Better Things does fall solidly ahead of the curve but maybe that’s not enough anymore in 2016 when there are literally hundreds of choices.

Grade: B+

NBC

Comedies

The Good Place

Michael Schur who has written and created some of the best network comedies this decade (along with one episode of Black Mirror that I am really looking forward to) joins forces with the king of TV himself Ted Danson and Kristen Bell on The Good Place.  Honestly Steve Burke should be thanking god that he managed to get Schur back from Fox.  The Good Place is a show about what happens when the afterlife makes a mistake.  As far as high concept goes this is almost as high as it gets.  It’s a good thing that I’m not writing this show because I think Schur has painted himself into a corner here because I don’t really know how long this can keep up.  Basically it’s the same problem Suits had with it’s most recent season, eventually the secret that kicked off your show has to get discovered and once it does you won’t have much interesting story to tell.  I hope I am wrong because the first two episodes that aired we’re really good.  This will at least be a very good first few seasons, which for now is good enough for me.  And Schur has proven me wrong before I didn’t think Parks & Recreation’s first season was good but that show became one of my favorite sitcoms ever.  I  have high hopes for The Good Place as well.

Grade: A

Dramas

This is Us

this-is-us

“What? Why? Seems pointless.”

My exact words at the end of This is Us the big story from the pilot episode is of course the twist ending.  The most annoying part of the twist ending is it made the most boring story line in This is Us also a pointless story line.  I get what Dan Fogelman was going for here; I remember Mad Men’s pilot like it was yesterday, a great twist can set the tone for your show and set you apart.  Cop shows to this day are still trying to recreate the shock and rapt effect that the Shield’s pilot had.  The problem with This is Us’s twist is it doesn’t really make any sense.  When Don comes home and you find out that he has a wife and two kids with a white picket fence after having seen him drink and smoke and fuck everything that walks for the past 40 minutes it speaks to both who Don is as a character and how Mad Men a show would continue through its historic run.  But This is Us does it’s stellar cast a disservice.  Why take away from Sterling K. Brown, Chris Sullivan, and Ron Cephas Jones incredible performances, Fogelman let them run wild through the first episode, that’s really what this show should be. This show is an inch away from something amazing, take away Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore and just give me more of the siblings and this is a really solid drama.  Where does this show go going forward with an entirely pointless story line tact on? I don’t know but I hope they manage to figure it out.

Grade: B-

Timeless-Update

I find myself really enjoying NBC’s current lineup of shows, something I never thought I’d say at least not since they cancelled Community.  First things first; how has it taken so long for this show to exist, didn’t everyone love Quantum Leap?  This seems like such an obvious logical extension.   I knew I liked this show about 10 minutes in when they acknowledged the very obvious fact that time travel is a white man’s past time, sending a reluctant Malcolm Barrett back to the 1930s.  The cast is so strong, Barrett has always been one of my favorite comedic actors, he’s not really used as comic relief in the pilot which was a welcome surprise but he plays his role well.  Matt Lanter is great as the charming bad boy, and he has the punchable face to go with it.  Then of course  there is Abigail Spencer who many of you will know from a little bit of everything is the lead of this time travelling A-Team.  Add in a mysterious villain who is out to destroy America before it starts and you have the making of a very watchable drama. The best version of this show is a USA drama at it’s peak, think the best years of Burn Notice–low stakes, charismatic cast, fun adventure of the week with a underlining main storyline each season.  The worst version of this show is CSI: Miami, literally pointless.  But I have faith, the pilot is good, and Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan have good (not great) resumes.

Grade: B

Other

Comedies

Insecure – HBO

insecure

Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore have a show. Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore have a show! Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore have a show!! Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore have a fucking show!! I’m so excited for this.  Issa Rae is fantastic in the pilot of Insecure which will officially air on October 9th but you can watch it now on HBO Go and HBO On Demand.  I love that there is finally a show about black women and for black women that are real people as opposed to some caricature of a person–say like maybe a homicidal law professor?  I love that Issa Rae are telling the story of successful educated black women who are just living their lives.  Rae plays Issa Dee, a token black women at an inner city charity and her friend Molly is played by the Yvonne Orji, who is essentially a new comer and who steals the show in the pilot episode.  Insecure is another 20-something comedy about love, work, and the pursuit of happiness, but this time it’s telling new stories about new people in an honest way.  Also with Wilmore and Rae writing you can bet it will be stellar going forward.

Grade: A

People of Earth – TBS

people-of-earth

Air date: Oct 31

Search Parties – TBS

Air date: Nov 21

Dramas

Chance – Hulu

chance

Air date: Oct 19

Divorce – HBO – Update

Sundays on HBO will be good for the next few weeks.  With Westworld and Insecure they have a really solid lineup.  Divorce isn’t the worst thing HBO has ever done but I am really glad that I watch HBO online so I don’t have to sit through Divorce at 10PM.  This show is for a very specific audience: 30 year old Sex in the City fans who also think that Burn After Reading is the best Coen Brother’s movie.  This show is tonally lost, and squanders some of its better talent instead relying on Sarah Jessica Parker who is phoning it in more than usual.  The show has some potential if it leans it to its supporting cast but with a pilot that was such a mess as this one I feel Divorce is more likely to go the way of The Brink than not.

Grade: C-

Falling Water – USA

USA will never find the lightning in a bottle they did with Mr. Robot again if they keep releasing ham-fisted shit like this.  But they are taking risks unlike most of The Big 4 & The CW.

Grade: F

Quarry – Cinemax

quarry

Quarry  came out of no where.  Like almost everything on Cinemax, it was just available one day with little fan fare.  But maybe it deserved some fan fare.  I have really liked what Cinemax has been doing lately from The Knick to Banshee and now Quarry I’m not sure why HBO keeps sending their hard hitting drama’s over to Cinemax because even they would admit they have been in dire need of good dramas for a long time.  I don’t see why Quarry couldn’t have easily held the network over from The Night Of to Westworld.  But whatever, here we are, with another great show that won’t get the viewership it deserves because its on a secondary premium channel.

Quarry is based on the Max Allan Collins novel of the same title, it’s about Mac Conway played by Logan Marshall-Green who will forever go down as the worst brother ever from The O.C. but who here is playing a Vietnam veteran who has just returned to his home town Memphis. I don’t want to give too much away but if you’ve even watched half of the shows trailer you know it doesn’t go too well for him.  The show has great characters and fantastic writing.  But what it has in spades is my favorite thing, gratuitous violence and an overwhelmingly bleak tone.  So far Quarry is three episodes in to its eight episode first season, and if it continues the breakneck pace its moving with right now it will soon be one of the best dramas on TV period.

Grade: A+

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