Home > new shows > Fall Pilot Score Card — Week Two

Fall Pilot Score Card — Week Two

October 2nd, 2013 | Jonathan Gray

~

Week 2 had a LOT of shows, so after noting that my reviews for Hostages, The Blacklist, Lucky 7, and The Goldbergs are elsewhere (follow the links), let’s get down to it:

First up was Mom, the latest move in Chuck Lorre’s master plan to fill American television with uninspired comedy. Mom beats Dad, not only in the show, where the fathers are piss-poor, but in a battle of networks, where Dads is just plain old bad. But being better than Dads is hardly much to brag about: so is leprosy. Ultimately, it may smooth out, but right now this isn’t even a sitcom: it’s just a series of jokes, and is one of the choppier pilots I’ve seen. Anna Faris is okay (though the opening scene’s supreme lameness left her needing to fight her way back up from the bottom all episode long), and might be able to hold a show, and Allison Janney is always great, though the television gods clearly hate me and Janney and are punishing us both for something by bringing CJ Cregg down to this. Won’t someone give her a better vehicle, since we all know she can drive? I’ve read reviews from those touched by the mother-daughter love, but I didn’t really see that show – the show I saw just strung together a whole bunch of jokes about sex and private parts that I’m sure I would have found really hilarious when I was nine: “I saw you at McDonald’s going down on a Filet-o-Fish,” “That’s a castrated chicken they beat with a hammer,” “My daughter’s an easy lay, and it’s not my fault” (which sets up the later “What did you do tonight?” “Watch TV” “Is your TV on your ceiling?”), “Don’t lie to the woman who washes your sheets,” “My mother taught me how to beat a cavity search and still feel like a lady,” “It is nice to see you wearing underwear. And not on your head,” “What time do you get off work? I could use a lap to cry on,” and the interchange “I think I may’ve found a way to pay you back for childcare” “Trust me, you can’t sell that much semen.” I’m sure it’ll do fine, since everything Lorre touches does fine. Luckily that means it doesn’t need my support, so I won’t be forthcoming with it.

~

Up next was Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I didn’t have the soaring expectations or hopes for this that many did, which is good because it’s only okay. The cast is uneven: Agent Coulson is a delight, and I’m happy to see Ming-Na Wen with work, but Brett Dalton was just boring and wooden, while Chloe Bennet was trying too hard and failing. Meanwhile, the little that I did hope for was that we might hear what it’s like to be a regular person in a world with superheroes, and that Agents might explore that a bit. Instead, someone gave a speech about how everyone changed after the actions of The Avengers, but the writers then showed me a world just like pretty much every other monster of the week show. In the 80s, after I grew out of finding jokes like those quoted from Mom above funny, I became a big fan of Marvel comics. But I stopped buying them in the 90s when each comic seemed to require – through footnotes – that I buy another five just to get what was going on. I feel like Agents might string me along as did those comics before I pulled the plug, as I’ll probably watch a little more in the hopes of having the Marvel cinematic universe filled and fleshed out, but I’m mindful that I may end up just as ripped off, feeling that the story is elsewhere not here. It’s okay, it was funny at times, the action worked at times, and there’s some potential, but nothing made me excited to watch the next episode.

~

The Trophy Wife, by contrast, grabbed me. It was really funny. It’s not superb, by any means, but it was a lot more charming and well-written than its horrible title suggests (really, who thinks these titles up, ABC? First Cougar Town, then this? She’s not a trophy wife, so why call her one?). Josh Lyman clearly beat CJ Cregg at getting the better show. Bradley Whitford and Malin Ackerman have good chemistry, and though the whole set-up seems designed to duplicate Modern Family in some or many ways, it had its own beat. Ackerman surprised me too, with good physical comedy and delivery. It got a little hammy at times (the whole drinking vodka instead of water gag wasn’t funny, much less so when extended over the course of the episode), and in true sitcom pilot form, all of the characters are typed right now, but I’ll be keen to see what they can do with those characters moving forward. It’s nice to see Marcia Gay Harden with a regular role, Albert Tsai stole the episode and is damn funny, and if they can keep the pace and chemistry moving forward, I may have a new show to watch.

~

Back in the Game is just kind of there. I didn’t find it especially bad, but a few days later, I can’t remember much about it either. I recall a gay kid who gets made fun of; maybe he’ll win us over later and maybe he’ll get the last laugh, but it’s a sad place to start out. There was a lot of battle of the sexes kind of back-and-forth, all pretty nebulous. There was a grumbly looking James Caan (clearly he’s been separated from a trash can lid for too long). Maggie Lawson was there, and my wife hopes the show fails so that she doesn’t have to leave Psych. She’s funny and can hold a show, but they didn’t do much with her. It was filmed well. I laughed occasionally. It’s about baseball. I’m sorry: maybe I should put more effort into this review, but the show was just there, neither bad nor good, and not particularly notable for much.

~

The Crazy Ones is reviewed really well by my Antenna colleagues, Anne Gilbert, Jennifer Smith, and Karen Petruska. I don’t have much to add – and so instead I encourage you to follow the link – except to note that it was funnier than I expected. Robin Williams has seemed so very washed up of late, but he was harmless, even controlled at times. Sarah Michelle Gellar is on safer ground for her only-okay acting skills than she was in Ringer (her comic abilities make up for just mediocre acting, which is why she ultimately wasn’t strong enough to carry a drama). I can’t see myself heading to it, but if I run into it, sure, I’ll watch again.

~

I wanted to like The Michael J. Fox Show much more than I did. What’s not to like about Fox? He’s Alex P. Keaton. He’s Marty McFly. He’s nailed almost every cameo or guest appearance in recent years. He’s Canadian. And he’s just a good guy. I also was intrigued at the possibility of a sitcom that might deal with disability intelligently (ie: not like Seth MacFarlane does). Well, he’s still likable, and some of the humor was intelligent and thoughtful. I appreciated the pushback to manipulation that guided a lot of the humor, and it did a pretty impressive job, therefore, of telling its audience how to watch it and how not to relate to Fox’s character. It’s nice to see Wendell Pierce in anything. But ultimately the humor was just okay: I liked it in concept way more than in practice. This strikes me as the kind of show that could stack up on the DVR and go unwatched, since I’d be happy to know I’m recording it, but I may never be all that keen to watch it. I’ll give it another shot, but for now, it’s just kind of meh.

~

Just the concept of Masterchef Junior has entertained me for weeks, thinking of Gordon Ramsay laying into a group of kids with endless expletives. Who greenlit this combination of kids and Ramsay, I’ve wondered, and what were they on? Instead, though, Ramsay was all sunshine and buttercups. And it worked. What a lovely hour of television. I now have something to work towards as a father, moreover. The kid who wins will get a lousy trophy (really? That cheap, FOX?), but it’s really their parents who win. It’s a nice spin on the genre of competition cooking shows, though, since surely we’re not meant to root against or dislike any of them? (Well, okay, I thought 8 year-old Nathan was annoying, and I was happy to see him go, but I’m a horrible person). It’s a feel-good format, and amazing to see what some of these little tikes can come up with. I’m a sucker for food TV in general, but when most of the shows and competitions bleed into one another, it’s nice to see something different in tone and spirit. And kids who can make macarons and molten lava cakes are pretty amazing, and worth featuring. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go teach my toddler to make fresh pasta …

~~

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

new shows , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.