Winter TV Roundup, Week 1

In these weekly posts I look at the new shows of winter, reviewing the pilot and second episode of each new series. The new year has barely begun, but already new shows are hitting the airwaves.

Monday Nights:
Superstore, Mondays at 8 p.m. on NBC (Premiered January 4)
About: Technically this series "premiered" last night. But NBC aired the first three episodes over two nights in December. So last night's "premier" was the fourth episode of the series. Go figure. Anyway, here's my review of the first two episodes from back in December. Having seen all four so far, I like this show and think it could work. But I'm not sure NBC is scheduling it in a way that gives it a real shot. From December: I have to say, I had low expectations going into the preview — which offered the first two episodes of "Superstore." But I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the cast was good — particularly America Ferrera — and the comedy worked. This is a work place comedy, but I thought the pilot was completely charming and the second episode worked, too. I'm genuinely excited to see this show premier and to see if it finds a following.
Pilot Grade: B
Second Episode: B-

Telenovela, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC (Premiered January 4)
About: Again, technically this show "premiered" last night. But it really aired episode four last night as the previous three episodes aired over two showings in December. I saw the first two and realized this show isn't for me. But here's my review from December: "Telenovela" is set among the cast of a popular telenovela. Eva Longoria plays the lead of the show within the show, a Spanish language TV star who can't speak Spanish. These are the jokes people, lap them up... The rest of the show was a shoulder shrug for me. There was plenty of typical hijinks, and the cast is somewhat likable, but I wasn't drawn into either of the two episodes offered. While I liked "Superstore" and think it has potential, I have no such optimism about "Telenovela." It has the higher profile cast and star, and it's being pumped hard by NBC, but there is no compelling reason to tune in each week.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

Sunday Nights:
Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 3)
About: This was the first real premier of the new year and it was, well, a complete dud. FOX is shaking up its Sunday night comedy block this winter. It moved "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to Tuesday nights and pulled "Last Man on Earth" off the schedule for the time being. "Cooper Barrett" got the plum spot between "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy," but it isn't really making the most of the slot. It lost a lot of its lead-in audience, and a few minutes into the episode it is clear why. Sometimes when you're watching a new show it's easy to wonder what was written on the page that made an executive at a network say "yes" to pouring millions of dollars into making it a series. That's all I had to think about during this show's pilot. The actors are OK, but essentially it wants to be a poor-man's "Hangover," with Justin Bartha again stuck in a thankless role. It doesn't work. It wasn't interesting or compelling. I don't see it working, at all.
Pilot Grade: D

Bordertown, Sundays at 9:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 3)
About: FOX's other new show, "Bordertown," probably better fits with the night. It's an animated series from Seth Macfarlane that is irreverent and not politically correct. It's set in a border town featuring a white family, whose patriarch works for Immigration and Customs, and a Mexican family that lives next door. Hilarity ensues. Except, not really. There wasn't anything particularly funny or interesting about the show. It was probably meant to point out the hypocrisy in our race relations, but it came off as more than a little racist. In short, it was a miss for me.
Pilot Grade: D


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