Fall TV Roundup, Week 15
Technically fall lasts until Sunday, but it's slim pickings for new shows… or new episodes of shows period. But here's a couple to look at.
Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo (Premiered December 2)
About: This show has a nice cast, led by Lisa Edlestein, and good production values. It feels like a show that's trying, at least a little, to be like "Sex in the City." I am probably not the target demographic for this show, and it's also not my kind of show. That being said, I see what this show is trying to do, and I just don't think it's really working. The second episode was, arguably, less interesting than the first episode. Also, there's been behind-the-scenes drama with this show, which led to a casting shake up, so we don't even know what this show is going to be. Janeane Garofalo has been a major part of the narrative, and her character has been a big part of the plot, but she's already left the show. The way it's currently constructed, that leaves a big hole. How does this show fill that? More importantly, why should we care. None of that's been made clear here.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
Marco Polo, now streaming on Netflix (Premiered December 12)
About: This big-budget drama is a big reach for Netflix. Originally pitched for Starz, the show's first season is now available in its entirety on Netflix. The goal here is obviously to add to their stock of original programming, possibly adding a show that will have more International appeal. This series focuses on the time when a young Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy) is traded by his father to Kublai Kahn (Benedict Wong) in order to open up a trade route. Marco gets to see this empire from a privileged position, and he's the point-of-view into this world. All that sounds well and good on paper, but in practice the first two episodes were dull. Starz has a habit of infusing its shows with a lot of sex and nudity to attract viewers. Certainly the pilot episode felt like something made for Starz, and was complete with Marco's tour through Kahn's den of concubines. It was an attempt to draw eyeballs to something that wasn't that fascinating a story. I thought the second episode was mildly better, as happens sometimes when shows feel free to veer a bit from eye candy to story. The final showdown between Kahn and his brother was somewhat fascinating. Still, I'm not sure where this is going. And there have been reports from critics who've advanced further than two episodes in that "Marco Polo" ramps up the sex and nudity quite a bit in middle episodes. That makes sense as it feels like the show is using all that to be edgy instead of actually having story lines and characters that ramp up the drama. Some of Netflix original shows have been great. This isn't one of them.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: C-