Pilot Season 2017: The Best & Worst New Shows (Mostly Worst)

 

Pilot season is upon us.  There’s a lot of new shows–they’re mostly mediocre, some are terrible, and a few are great.  I watched it all so you don’t have to.  Let’s find out together what’s worth watching.

September 10:

The Deuce

The Deuce

(HBO, new drama series)

David Simon is back with another period drama, sprawling through a major American city and telling the story of the time through the lens of many drastically different characters.  This time instead of the Baltimore drug trade and the police and journalists that follow it it’s the New York City sex and pornography trade and the police and journalists that follow it.  It’s far from The Wire right now but the pilot episode does a lot right.  And that is evidenced by the early roll out that HBO gave it, just like they did with the first episode of The Night Of, and we know how good that was.  Through the pilot episode I love the setting, 1970’s New York is hardly a new locale for a show or a movie but I never grow tired of it.  The show is led by big names James Franco (twice) and Maggie Gyllenhaal but there are a lot of underappreciated second and third leads here that kill it in this first episode.

Simon has proved time and again he has a knack for making the audience fall in love with bad people and that talent really cannot fail him now because there is not one single good person in this show.  I can’t see myself empathizing with C.C. no matter how charismatic Gary Carr is.

Should you watch: I would love to say this is appointment viewing, but it feels like the only appointment viewing shows left are ones that can foster speculation. And while I think The Deuce will be captivating and masterfully made I can’t imagine many theories about the Martino brother’s parentage.  It’s a weekly watch show for sure, which is good because HBO Go makes that very easy to do.

Grade: A

The Orville

Orville

(Fox, new drama series)

This show is so weird.  I thought this show was a spoof–I prepared myself for a network show sized barrel of laughs because of the cast (Seth MacFarlane as the lead), because it looks exactly like Star Trek, because Google thinks it’s a comedy, and also because the Fox marketing department thinks it’s a comedy.

So, you would be right to suspect a Star Trek spoof coming into this show.  That is not what you get.  You get Star Trek.  Bad Star Trek. But it’s just Star Trek.  It takes itself exactly as serious as Star Trek did.  At times it manages to poke a little fun at the premise but so did Star Trek in it’s best moments.  I’m not sure why this show exists, especially considering the Star Trek Discover is coming about two weeks later.  The most offensive part of The Orville is just how absolutely dull it is.  It does nothing interesting, it does nothing fun, it definitely does nothing funny.  I like Seth MacFarlane as much as the next guy but the rest of this cast is as dead as can be.

Should you watch: No, especially considering that usually even the best shows take a dip in quality after their first episode.  There just isn’t much here worth tuning in for

Grade: D

September 14:

Riviera

(SundanceNow, new drama series)

It’s bad.  It’s a very very dull.  Sundance is counting on the the fame of Juila Stiles to pull people into their subscription service which is not a smart bet.  SundanceNow is probably worth $4.99 a month honestly if you’re a movie buff.  But as of right now the original programming is a joke.  I actually only made it about three quarters of the way through this pilot before I just couldn’t bother anymore.  Its just so incredibly unimaginative.  Drama set inside the world of the super rich is always somewhat interesting just on the face of it but this is far from the best version of that.

Should you watch: Worth approximately $0 a month and currently the only way to watch it is on the SundanceNow platform.  No it’s definitely not worth adding another monthly subscription to your list.

Grade: C-

September 15:

American Vandal

American Vandal

(Netflix, new comedy series)

I sat down to watch the first episode of this show, just to knock it out for the piece.  I ended up watching all 8 episodes in an evening.  The show is a surprisingly fun take on what I thought was a played-out genre.  And if you had told me there was a mockumentary about whether a kid drew dicks on a bunch of cars or not I would have told you it was a hard pass from me.  But the cast is talented, especially Jimmy Tatro and Griffin Gluck and it takes itself appropriately seriously when it should.  The show is funny and heartfelt and is far from your typical teen drama.

Should you watch: It’s a tight four-hour binge on Netflix and unless I’m mistaken this will be its only season so just take an evening and enjoy.

Grade: A

September 24:

Star Trek Discovery

Star Trek Discovery

(CBS All-Access, new drama series) 

CBS is making a huge investment on Star Trek Discovery. I’m not sure if financially it’ll payoff–ironically CBS is probably likely to make more money off the international Netflix distribution deal than they are off of CBS All-Access subscriptions.  But as for making a quality show the sheer amount of money they shoveled into this did not hurt at all.  The show looks amazing, a lot closer to the two recent Star Trek blockbusters than anything on CBS right now.

I’ve never been a fan of any of the iterations of the Star Trek original series so I’m not the one to say whether or not this is faithful to the originals; but as a show standing on its own merit it is certainly off to a good start.  It looks a lot like the originals; a focus on diversity, campy prosthetic (this time just very expensive), flashy special effects, and  well-made set pieces.  The plot through the first episode is compelling enough I am interested enough to see where the Klingon plot goes to watch a few more episodes at least but I fear die hard fans of the show will have seen this exactly story line trotted out on multiple occasions.

It is not all good news though.  The acting of the main cast can be pretty awful at times: Sonequa Martin-Green is a struggle to watch and Michelle Yeoh is a legend in her own right but has never really found the deft touch in English that she has in Mandarin and Cantonese (which is odd because she English is her first language along with Malay).  Although judging by the IMDb list and the budget of the show they have managed to attract a few guest and supporting actors to paper over the cracks I enjoyed Chris Obi as T’Kuvma a great deal in the pilot.  The writing is weighed down by exposition and self-importance.  And David Semel is quite out of his depths as a director in this first episode–shamelessly aping the aesthetic choices of J.J. Abrams is not really a smart move.

Should you watch: At $6 for limited commercials and $10 for commercial-free CBS All-Access is far from worth it at the moment.  Hulu is the same and CBS has almost nothing worth watching.  If money is no object or you’re willing to get this show in nefarious ways its a good sci-fi show and will not disappoint fans of the genre.

Grade: B

September 25:

The Brave

The Brave

(NBC, new drama series)

This is definitely a TV show and you know what; maybe that’s enough.  I just don’t care, I honestly couldn’t care any less about this show.  I’m sure The Brave and CBS’s SEAL Team will probably play well in the red states.

If your favorite genre is American saviors flying in to a caricature of a middle eastern country populated exclusively by evil men and dust then this is yet another show for you.  An impressively dull characterless group of marines saves the world one terrorist as a time.  With such groundbreaking additions to the team as “The One Woman,” “Hey That Black Guy,” “Muslim Who Everyone Hates For Being Muslim,” and “White Leader Guy” there’s a real who’s who of token characters in this one.

I think it’s important that someone points out that there are very qualified surgeons in any number of Middle Eastern countries, since in the entire 43 minute run of this episode no one brought that little detail up.  And I just couldn’t get it out of my head that this ISIS stand in needed to capture a white doctor to save their leader.

Should you watch: This show has been done 1000 times before in any number of mediums.  They all are the exact same flavor of boring. This is neither significantly better nor significantly worse than the next version of Operation Seal Team White Saviors

Grade: D

The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor

(ABC, new drama series)

I’ll have to excuse myself from objectively assessing this show.  I am incapable of making rational decisions when Antonia Thomas is involved.

It is weird that they made her American and not Chuku Modu.  Also Freddie Highmore is English.  I guess there’s no American actors anymore?  I’m not complaining, the fewer Americans involved in things the better.

Although that rule doesn’t seem to apply to The Good Doctor.  It’s just a pretty crap, by-the-numbers, overshot, overwritten, overreaching mess of a hospital drama.  The first episode tries so hard to make you cry it’s laughable.  It’s also mostly just a show about how no one calls 911 and how an autistic doctor fails to run past security on multiple occasions in the same day.

Dear god the writing is shit.

Should you watch: If you really loved House but thought it had too much wit for you.  Maybe you’re a big ER fan but you wanted more weird religious shit.  Possibly you’re the Chicago Med fan; then this show is for you.

Grade: C-

Me, Myself, & I

(CBS, new comedy series)

About two minutes in and this inevitable This Is Us knock off doesn’t surprise me, but it does disappoint.  This show isn’t good or bad it’s just really uninteresting and it bums me out that Kelen Coleman is in it because I only wish success for her and it just doesn’t seem to ever click for her.  But seeing as it’s an unambitious middling CBS sitcom it will probably run for 11 years.  Coleman isn’t the only decent actor wasted on the poor writing and tired concept of this show: Jaleel White, Sharon Lawrence, and Alison Tolman are all talented actors stuck unceremoniously in supporting roles.  Tolman recently came off of Downward Dog an ambitious, if not particularly good sitcom that made it only 8 episodes.

Me, Myself, & I isn’t even good enough to damn with faint praise. The acting of the main cast is subpar, the writing overwrought, and the concept is played out to death.  The emotional climax of the show is set around a 70-year-old man kissing the “love of his life” that as far as we know he “lost” in middle school.  So, you know—touching?

Should you watch: There are some good TV actors in here but they are wasted in the fringes.  But if for some weird reason you’re a huge Bobby Moynihan fan, go ahead.  Even then it’s definitely not a show worth tuning in weekly for.

Grade: C+

Young Sheldon

(CBS, new comedy series)

Listen, the show exists.  What else is there to say?  It’s a Big Bang Theory prequel that happens at least to be mercifully free of a laugh track.

Should you watch: If you’re the person that asked for more backstory on Big Bang Theory you can catch this every week on the bunny ears you have attached to the TV in the common area of Kingsley Manor Los Angeles Retirement Community.

Grade: C

September 26:

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders

(NBC, new drama series)

For NBC, both capitalizing on the recent success of The People VS. O.J. Simpson and cashing in on the name brand that is Law & Order is a smart move.  One that I’m surprised it took this long for someone to come up with.  Law & Order True Crime is a great idea that may have just missed its time.  Ten years ago this would have been a conversation generating piece of television.  Then again ten years ago Grey’s Anatomy and House were getting nominated for Emmys; TV has changed a great deal.  The Menendez Murders looks a lot like a prestige show but has none of the charm or talent that come with that.  The writing is uninspired and the performances constantly fall flat; the realization that we will have to watch Heather Graham be the crux of the dramatic turn of this show is pitiful.  The show is off to a dull start but if the show it is parroting is any indication it will get better from here.

At the end of the day a cheap imitation of something great is better than a cheap imitation of something bad.  And until we can get an actual follow up to The People VS. O.J. Simpson this will have to do.

Should you watch: The only thing worse than the writing is the acting but it looks good and it’s short and sweet and it will be hard to fuck this story up too badly.

Grade: C-

September 27:

SEAL Team

SEAL Team

(CBS, new drama series)

It’s fine. A completely bleh piece of television. Hopefully it’s just the episode that was on CBS.com but the audio mastering for what I watched was horrid.

Neil Brown Jr. is one of the more underrated actors working right now and for him to be attached to this mess it just disappointing.  Also, Jessica Paré is in this show.  Not really an important detail but an interesting tidbit.  Going from the worst part of the best show in the history of television to the most forgettable part of the most unimaginative show in television history is quite the career move.

Should you watch: Neil Brown Jr. isn’t in enough scenes to carry this show but he does his absolute damndest.

Grade: Neil Brown Jr. out of 10

Liar

(SundanceTV/ITV, new drama series)

Disclaimer: All but the final episode of season one is available in the UK right now but not in the US.  I have seen all the episodes but unlike the Netflix and Amazon series they’re not technically available to Americans so this will just be about the first episode.

If you separate this show from the politics of it it’s a good English crime drama. The problem is you can’t possibly separate this show from the politics of it.  But before I talk about that let me say the first episode is paced well.  It’s a fairly standard crime drama pilot especially for England.  Starts off with some normal families and then the quaint, oddly tight knit group is thrown into turmoil by a horrible crime. Joanne Froggatt and Ioan Gruffudd are worthy leads in Liar.  Some of the supporting cast lacks the pure talent that usually comes with English dramas of this kind but Warren Brown is good in his role as Tom Bailey, even if the rest of the cast is lacking through the first episode.  Technically there is not much special here but James Strong, who directs the first episode, “The Date,” doesn’t get in the way of the story either.

The major problem with Liar ignoring the weak supporting cast and occasionally cliched writing it is impossible to ignore the fact that at its core this is a show about the he said-she said situation that can happen after a rape accusation.  The “mystery” of Liar is not whether Andrew and Laura had sex but whether or not it was consensual.  Without mincing words if someone ever says a sexual act wasn’t consensual–then it wasn’t.  At times it can feel stomach churning to watch the show twist and turn around Andrew, who is believably framed as a possible victim.  Not to say this isn’t a real story that has happened before.  The problem here being that 999 times out of 1000 a man accused of rape is guilty of it and while in general there is no issue with telling the 1 in 1000 story there are plenty of people who believe false accusations aren’t as rare as they actually are and this show feels like it’s poorly timed.

Should you watch: If you can find a way to distance yourself from the troubling sexual politics here there is something to enjoy.  But I can understand if this show can be upsetting and at times infuriating in how it handles a very sensitive subject matter.

Grade: No way to fairly grade this

September 28:

Will & Grace

(NBC, comedy series)

Technically listed at season 9.  Didn’t watch, won’t watch.  But I heard they shat on Trump a lot which I’m always in support of no matter the medium.

September 29:

Marvel’s Inhumans

Inhumans

(ABC, new drama series)

Comic book nonsense is present in all comic books from great to terrible.  Comic book nonsense is how we all are meant to accept that Superman has managed to fly under the radar all these years as Clark Kent with just a tie and some glasses.  Comic book nonsense is also how we’ve all just decided that alternate universe is an adequate answer to anything.  Comic book nonsense can be the most fun part about comics given the right writer.  The Inhumans have always been comic book nonsense at its absolute worst.  And this show certainly does not have the same deft writing of Saladin A. Ahmed nor is it nearly as visually stunning as Black Bolt.  This show was pretty clearly DOA.  It started as a movie, was pushed to TV, then was pushed to Friday.  Now it sounds like ABC is calling this a miniseries.  The show is really bad, in possibly the least surprising way ever.  It’s over serious, it’s poorly acted, it’s full of CGI but without any of the budget to back it up, the writing is horrible, and the plot is just ridiculous.  On top of all that Iwan Rheon, coming off of a great run on Game of Thrones has just the worst accent on this show and it’s really distracting.

Should you watch: Unless you are for some weird reason a die hard Inhumans fan there is no reason at all to watch this show.  And even then this is particularly awful even for the black sheep of Marvel.

Grade: F

Tin Star

Tin Star

(Amazon Prime/Sky Atlantic, new drama series)

Spoilers

The first episode is good.  Stylishly shot, well acted, full of punchy too-clever dialogue that Tim Roth and the rest of the cast deliver sharply.  Tin Star starts as a compelling version of a familiar premise.  It’s not the best English police drama ever.  The problem with this show is that it’s all available.  And while the first episode is good, and if I had written this without watching the other nine I would have been very optimistic about the show’s first season.

That’s not how it went down though.  I’ve seen the whole first season.  First, the good: a lot of the main cast is spectacular, Tim Roth, Christina Hendricks, and Genevieve O’Reilly are captivating.  The show starts out visually impressive and while it can be heavy handed at times it is at least a change of pace from the dark shroud that usually defines every cop drama.  The mystery is well set and drives the plot along at first, why is someone trying to kill anyone in this nice British family?  And how is the obviously evil oil conglomerate involved.

Now, the bad: the premise gets more and more ridiculous as the show goes on.  Turns out both the oil magnate and someone from his undercover past tried to kill him.  The plot is an absolute mess by the end with an entire pointless Native Peoples storyline that feels like it is only there for the sake of one monologue bemoaning the white man–they even manage to bring up smallpox.  The visual style of the first episode lasts only the first episode then the show goes back to the norm.

The biggest problem with the show is the characters though.  There is a contrived family drama the crux of which is just that the daughter is as dumb a human can be.  It gets to the point where you’re just rooting for her to get killed so you don’t have to watch anymore of her story.  The villains are all cartoonish especially the evil french man who literally walks through the family’s house like the fucking boogeyman at the climax of the show.  The reveal for why the son is killed is only surpassed in it’s stupidity by the fact that the explanation convinces the stupid daughter to sympathize with her brother’s killer.  To the point where she shoots her father for shooting the man that killed her baby brother.

Should you watch: No, it’s a shame to say with Roth and Hendricks in the show.  But the show is good for 4 hours and really really bad for 6.  This show without the daughter is a significantly better show.  Without the silly British villains is an even better show.  I just wanted to see drunk Tim Roth go on a John Wick style rampage against an oil conglomerate.

Grade: C-

October 1:

Ghosted

(Fox, new comedy series)

The show is absolutely ridiculous.  I will not deny that.  But Craig Robinson and Adam Scott have always been two of the best comedy TV actors around.  While wholly absurd and written rather sloppily it succeeds on the charm and skill of its stars.  It’s funny and an enjoyable 20 minutes and what else do you possibly need at the end of the day.  Also Amber Stevens West.

Should you watch: It’s far from groundbreaking or brilliant but it is enjoyable which is far more than I can say about most of the completely unwatchable output that has been pilot season 2017.

Grade: B

Ten Days in the Valley

404-the-valley.png

(ABC, new drama series)

I watched this show.  Opened up my google doc.  Tried to start writing about Ten Days in the Valley and couldn’t remember one single thing about this show.  It has the woman from The Closer on it and it looks like it was shot on a $100 camcorder.  Other than that, I have nothing to say about this show.  It’s an almost painfully typical network drama complete with a kidnapped kid, secret identity, and an ex alcoholic.

ABC has recently become a home for decent sitcoms.  But its dramas are so stuck in Shondaland as to have become parodies of themselves at this point.  Just because you put a sharp-tongued, career-driven woman as your lead does not make your drama good.

Should you watch: Do you love kidnapped kid dramas?  Will you enjoy watching Kyra Sedgwick cry for 22 hours?  Do you really need a show to watch while you scroll through Instagram and Twitter?  Well then Seven Days in the Quarry is the show for you.

Grade: D

Wisdom of the Crowd

(CBS, new drama series)

Feels like it should be mentioned that Sir Francis Galton did his weight experiment in the hope of proving that common people were morons.  However, I am impressed that anyone did even enough research to come across this part of the Galton story for this absolute mess of a show.

A truly horrifying premise for a very poorly made show.  If this is your thing just watch Bull instead, which is equally bad but at least it’s not celebrating the worst possible dystopia created by our social media society.  I never thought a show would make me want Jeremy Piven to return to 1900s department stores but this did.  At least Piven was somewhat charismatic in Mr. Selfridge; this is just a complete mess of a television show.

Should you watch: CBS really knows their demographic.  If you’re the CBS kind of person then watch this show.

Grade: D

October 2:

9JKL

9JKL

(CBS, new comedy series)

It’s a multi-camera laugh track sitcom in 2017 starring a bunch of people CBS pulled from other comedies ranging from pseudo-successful to really unsuccessful.  The list of familiar faces is actually too long to be accidental.

Also, just a free tip to showrunners: if your show is going to be entirely indistinguishable from 300 other shows, you should name it something to hook people to watch it that gives a hint of what it’s about: Law & Order, CSI, Cheers, The Office.  Don’t name your show something that only makes any sense after watching it.

Should you watch: It’s as unfunny as it is inoffensive and unambitious.  It’ll play in Poughkeepsie.

Grade: F

The Gifted

(Fox, new drama series)

Uhh, why?  Why does this show exist?  Is it literally just because Fox is bending over backwards to do anything they can to use their rights to Marvel’s mutant properties?  It’s a boilerplate dystopian sci-fi show with a tacked-on family drama.  If it didn’t casually namedrop some off-hand Marvel properties, it could have been on Syfy.  Acting is subpar, the writing is all over the place, the special effects are distracting both in how poorly executed and in the frequency of use.  It is mercifully overshadowed by Inhumans in how truly bad it is but it’s far closer to its cousins over at ABC than it is to the brilliance of Legion.

Should you watch:  If you’re a huge fan of Jamie Chung she’s… fine in this I guess.  Matt Nix–storied if not entirely celebrated television writer and creator is at the helm here so if you loved Burn Notice or you’re one of the 13 people who watched The Good Guys try it out.

Grade: D

October 3:

The Mayor

The Mayor

(ABC, new comedy series)

Surprisingly good.

Again, it is always a good sign when a network, especially one like ABC releases a pilot early.  ABC is hoping here that being able to watch the first episode of The Mayor free on Hulu, YouTube, ABC’s website, OnDemand, Google Glass, Skynet, and gas station TV will get this show some word of mouth.  It’s a pretty good idea because I had no idea what this show was and no real hope for it but I caught the early pilot on Hulu and actually enjoyed it a lot.  Adding The Mayor to the lineup of Black-ish, Modern Family, Fresh off The Boat, and Speechless makes for a very solid comedy lineup for network TV.  The Mayor is as funny and clever as you can be when tied to ABC and Brandon Micheal Hall is great as rapper-turned- mayor Courtney Rose.

Should you watch: The great network sitcom is basically nonexistent now (RIP Community) the good network sitcom is dying. This is in fact a good network sitcom well worth the watch.

Grade: B-

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World

(ABC, new drama series)

It had Portugal, The Man in it.  So, I guess we’re done?

Actually, this is a good episode not just the great song choice.  By default, it just might be ABC’s best drama right now so maybe this is my low expectations speaking.  Kevin is one of 30-something pure souls on Earth and after recently attempting suicide following the death of his brother, he is visited by his own sassy black guardian angel and tasked with finding all the other pure souls.  Probably to save the world.  It’s a simple premise with a lot of room to develop after this pilot.  That is good and bad news; on one hand, Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters could find interesting places to take the premise.  On the other hand, this could quickly turn into this year’s Designated Survivor, clever idea, decent pilot, runs out of ideas almost immediately.

JoAnna Garcia has always been underused for her talent so seeing her get a role with a lot of depth here should be good.  I can’t say personally I have any opinion on Jason Ritter who plays the titular role in this show but through the pilot he is a passable leading man.  Much better at playing the straight man than actual emotional heft, which might be bad if this show tries to be ABC’s answer to This Is Us.  Can’t say I love the sassy black woman character in 2017 but Kimberly Hebert Gregory is coming off a stellar performance on Vice Principals so no complaints about the actor choice at least–although this couldn’t really be a more different role.

Should you watch: It’s ABC; it has a track record longer than most networks of shooting promising shows in the foot. A few years back, Selfie was D.O.A. despite actually being a decent network sitcom – likely due to the shittiest name ever for a show.  Then there was Perception, a compelling concept that ABC took and turned into a case of the week cookie cutter procedural and it became painfully dull in five episodes time.  Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is burdened both with its name and a premise begging to be proceduralized.  Let’s hope for all our sakes it doesn’t go as poorly for this show as it did for those two.

Grade: B-

October 5:

Ghost Wars

Ghost Wars

(Syfy, new drama series)

I’m not sure what the Syfy budget is; but this show looks as bad as a Sharknado but it doesn’t seem intentional this time.  The first episode has a car crash in it and it looks like someone made it with fucking Roblox.  It feels weird to grade this show on the same scale or talk about it in the same way that I am the other shows on this list. It feels far closer to a Youtube webseries than an internationally available television show.  I think as far as campy horror shows go this is watchable.  It’s extraordinarily dull and they could barely afford a computer for the effects so it’s no surprise they couldn’t find the actors on their budget either.

Should you watch: I drank a lot and had a great laugh it’s far from good in the traditional sense but it just tries so hard and at times that can be admirable in its own way.

Grade: C-

October 9:

Valor

(The CW, new drama series)

I’ve been tempted to just take CW shows off these lists; they’re always terrible without fail.  But I have a penchant for self-harm so I decided why the hell not watch them for another year.

Valor is yet another of what feels like 40 new military dramas.  They’re all indistinguishable from each other and not a one of them is at all well made.  It is a safe bet in America though that piggy backing on the reverence for the military will pay dividends.  Valor is exactly as bad as the CW version of SEAL Team and The Brave would be.  It’s just more poorly structured military nonsense made by the actors, writers, and directors that the CW can afford plus distractingly pretty people and a teen drama style romance plotline.  This is a very generic review for a very generic show.  If you desperately need more of this in your life, it’s there for you.

Should you watch: Very pretty people, truly awful storytelling.  Holy hell the acting is terrible.  Guns and explosion and I’m sure eventually we’ll come across some nameless evil Muslims.  Oorah.

Grade: D

October 11:

Dynasty

(The CW, new drama series reboot)

I watched the whole first episode.  I sat through 42 minutes and 58 seconds.  I did that because I felt obligated to watch the whole episode so that I could say without any guilt.

This show is horrendous.

Rebooting one of the most popular shows from the 80s sounds like a decent enough idea.  Unfortunately it’s the CW.  They somehow manged to fuck up the easiest two foot putt of the century.  Every second, every line, every actor, every character in this show is incredibly bad.  They even managed to fit in some politically troubling black male Mandingo sexualization too.  It’s an episode of television so jam packed with garbage its actually impressive.

Should you watch: This show is definitely for a specific group of people.  That group of people is never going to read this piece so no, if you’re reading this don’t watch this show.

Grade: F

Mindhunter

Mindhunter

(Netflix, new drama series)

Mindhunter is a prestige television take on the standard serial killer drama.  I will say personally I’ve always been a fan of the psychological thriller genre with the frighteningly charismatic serial killer at its center.  Accompany that with a charismatic cop duo and you have yourself a show worth watching.  Joe Penhall has something eminently entertaining here with Mindhunter.  It’s dark and unnerving and its shot beautifully.  Netflix may have managed to finally replicate the dark draw of True Detective’s first season.  The free love storyline and punchy score can at times feel a little heavy handed.  I have no real need to be constantly reminded the show is set in 1977, the aggressively white palette of its cast does that for me.

One thing that Netflix has always been good at despite its many faults over the years has been finding the forgotten talent among the crowd of familiar faces.  It only took me about 40-minutes to be reminded how much I like Holt McCallany and to get hooked on this show.

Should you watch: A show with a lot of money and talented people behind it is rarely a complete miss, it’s as rarely a massive success.  I think it’s fair to say Mindhunter is closer to the later than the former especially for fans of the serial killer genre.

Grade: B+

October 15:

White Famous

(Showtime, new comedy series)

Showtime is in desperate—desperate need of a savior.  White Famous isn’t going to be that show but it also certainly won’t hurt.

Jay Pharoah is as funny as he’s always been, those who are fans will enjoy this show; Pharoah’s detractors here will find the same things to complain about that they always have.  It can at times be desperate for laughs which leads to reaching like with the Jamie Foxx section which starts off with pretty aggressive premium-channel-nudity and then transfers quickly into a five minute dick joke.  Baltimore native, Utkarsh Ambudkar, performs well as Floyd Mooney’s harried agent Malcolm.  Cleopatra Coleman kind of stelas the show though.  I would have never guessed having been shackled to The Last Man on Earth these past few years that Coleman was such a talent.  When she’s on screen she manages to carry this funny, if shallow show, to something worth watching.  Unfortunately Coleman does not get the screen time she desperately deserves in this first episode and as the ex-wife I don’t see that changing much in the future.

Should you watch: It can be childish, it can be shallow and at times heartless but it is funny and clever when it’s at its best and Jay Pharoah is worth tuning in for if nothing else piques your interest.

Grade: B

October 20:

Superstition

(Syfy, new drama series)

It’s awful.  I’m not going to bother saying anymore about this show.

Should you watch: No, obviously.  Unless you desperately want to see a snake crawl out of a woman’s vagina and then kill her roommate then there is literally nothing here for you. Don’t ever watch anything on SyFy.  I found that out quite brutally this pilot season–it will be hard to decide what the worst SyFy show I watched is.

Grade: F

 

November 2:

S.W.A.T.

(CBS, new drama series)

Poor Jay Harrington, how we have done you dirty as a society.  Better Off Ted was great, Benched actually was pretty decent, and because none of y’all show up for good shit now he’s here playing a ridiculous character in an even more ridiculous show.  If S.W.A.T. was actually just about a S.W.A.T. team kicking in doors and navigating hostage situations it might actually be pretty decent.  But instead it’s just full of so much bullshit it never actually gets to the good part about this show for more than 3 minutes.  This show isn’t even remotely prepared to handle the complex police-community relationship and it’s attempt at it belittles both it’s audience and the turbulent situation it’s trying to address.  I also don’t care about your work girlfriend, I don’t give a shit about the power struggle within S.W.A.T. teams, and I definitely don’t for a second care about whipping this hothead new recruit into shape.

Also, I’m no expert, but I don’t think whoever made this show has any fucking clue what S.W.A.T. does.

“This is all connected”

Should you watch: S.W.A.T. is actually trying too hard here to be a prestige show.  CBS is not prepared for it, the writing and directing team is clearly not up to it.  What this show needs to be is case of the week storm a different hold up every episode and drop all this nonsense character development and social narrative that they’re just not good at at all.

Grade: C

Back

(SundanceNow, new comedy series)

November 3:

Alias Grace

Alias Grace.png

(Netflix, new drama series)

November 7:

Damnation

(USA Network, new drama series)

November 14:

Future Man

Future Man.png

(Hulu, new comedy series)

Future Man has a juvenile sense of humor that has aged out of television  in the prestige era and for some its return will feel like a welcome respite.  But Future Man too often squanders its tried and true concept and its talented cast.  Britt Lower is a breath of fresh air in this show but plays too small a part to actual save a dull attempt and Sci-Fi fan service.

Should You Watch: All the episodes are available now, its a pretty easy binge but getting to the end of the show will not offer you any reward.  It doesn’t exactly get any better, actually when Lower is off the show it gets much worse.

Grade: C-

November 21:

Marvel’s Runaways

(Hulu, new drama series)

I want this to be good.  I want this to be good so bad that I even watched episodes 2 and 3 after the putrid pilot.  The pilot is so slow and poorly acted and written though it is hard to get through it to give the show a second chance.  I love The O.C. but I cannot say the same about any other Josh Schwartz or Stephanie Savage shows.  The television adaptation misses most of the heart and superhero levity that Brian K . Vaughan’s source material had so much of.  There’s still a pet Dinosaur and Alex’s hair is still awful but most everything else to love about the comic hasn’t made it to the Hulu show.

Should you watch: Critics seem to love this. Why? I don’t know.  I’ve been wrong before but even after watching the first four episodes I cannot for the life of me see the appeal.

Grade: C-

November 22:

Godless

(Netflix, new drama limited series)

November 23:

She’s Gotta Have It

(Netflix, new dramedy series)

Maybe 60 year old men shouldn’t be trying to write dialogue of the “millenials” they all seem to despise so much.  It ends up looking more like a Cingular commercial than how anyone under the age of 30 actually acts.

Spike Lee’s manic style of dialogue has never been my cup of tea.  The way he tries to write conversation like a spoken word poem leaping back and  forth between cuts to make it seem like his dialogue is far more acrobatic than it is.  Lee gets in his own way in the remake to She’s Gotta Have It.  The original is bright and thoughtfully crafted story of female sexual liberation and a remake could have come off as timely and fresh.  Instead Lee misses something here by failing to update the 31 year old movie and instead injects cellphones and hashtags and calls it a day.  There’s still enough here to make for an interesting show at times and it makes some important points about sexual objectification, the fragile male ego, and the shifting racial politics of New York City .  But being socially conscious is not the only thing that makes a show.  Unfortunately She’s Gotta Have It misses on too many other fronts to make for a worthy package for its crucial message.

Thank fuck Netflix has a “Skip Intro” button too because I will not be watching that more than once.

Should you watch: I wanted more from this show but it may not be fair to compare it to it’s cinematic predecessor.  Lee makes a perfectly fine TV show here, probably the best thing he’s made in years.  I wish Lee would back up from his work.  This show with a different writer and a few replacements in the cast it could’ve been great, but not everything can be a hit there’s only so much worthy talent around.

Grade: B-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: