Winter TV Roundup, Week 2


In these weekly posts I review the pilot and second episode of new series. Don't see a new series listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Shannara Chronicles, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV (Premiered January 5)
About: When you see an original show is coming to MTV, it casts a certain level of expectations. The network is known for reality fare such as "The Real World," and not much in the way of cutting edge scripted fare. I have watched a few of their scripted series, and nothing has ever stuck. But none of those was the "Shannara Chronicles." Based on the fantasy books from Terry Brooks, this is a lot more like "The Lord of the Rings" than anything you'd expect to find on MTV. In an era rich with these kind of fantasy worlds, this pilot worked well. I liked the casting and I liked the production values. After the first episode, I was really excited to see where this series will go. This might be the show that ushers in a new era for MTV scripted fare, and that could be something to see.
Pilot Grade: B

Wednesday Nights:
American Crime, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered January 6)
About: "American Crime" is ABC's take on anthology series. I enjoyed the first season, which tackled some deep race issues that continue to divide America. John Ridley, who won an Academy Award for writing "12 Years A Slave," had a powerful and, at times, beautiful take on these issues. It wasn't an easy story to watch, but it was powerfully done. I was excited when the series earned a somewhat surprising second season renewal. Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, and Regina King again star in this iteration, though the story and their characters are completely different. This time the story is about an alleged sexual assault by the star basketball team at a private prep school. I didn't enjoy the pilot for season two as much. I wasn't as drawn to the characters or the way the story came together. The first season of "American Crime" felt like something personal to Ridley. This season feels more "ripped from the headlines." The cast is still strong, and the show's style is unique, but I thought the first episode was a bit blah.
Pilot Grade: C

Thursday Nights:
Angel From Hell, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered January 7)
About: Jane Lynch created a brand as a caustic cheer leading coach on "Glee." While that show's popularity waned, people's thirst for her brand of sarcastic comedy never did. That's why she's back in the new sitcom "Angel From Hell." The name of her character and the background has changed, but the snark remains. The problem is the show isn't nearly compelling enough to keep you interested. The pilot was beyond dry and felt more than a little pointless. CBS is banking on this as the comedy for the future, but I'm guessing it won't last 13 episodes. Yikes.
Pilot Grade: D

Shades of Blue, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered January 7)
About: Jennifer Lopez is back starring in "Shades of Blue" alongside Ray Liotta. It's a talented cast and seemingly a bit get for NBC, which is desperate for some scripted hits outside of Dick Wolf's "Chicago" trio. Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC used to be a premium hour. This was the home to "ER" back in the day. "Shades of Blue" wasn't the worst show I've seen, but it's down on the list. The entire thing is built around some corrupt cops and a pushy FBI agent pushing one of those corrupt cops to flip on the others. Lopez's character walks around in the pilot with some righteous indignation about turning on her friends and colleagues, but we've already seen her do so many shady things she has no moral high ground. If the story and characters were interesting, you could still make it work. Sadly, that's not the case here. The pilot was boring and predictable, and I think it's a sign of things to come.
Pilot Grade: D

Idiotsitter, Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central (Premiers January 14)
About: This is the latest comedy from Comedy Central, and it premiers on Thursday night. But the network made the episode available early on line, so I checked it out. If you haven't, you're not missing anything. This was a dull waste of time. The story centers on a broke woman (Charlotte Newhouse) who takes a job baby sitting a train wreck of a 20-something woman (Jillian Bell) who has lived a life of privilege and doesn't know how to live as an adult. This feels like it wants to be a female version of "Billy Madison" in some fashion. But that fashion isn't interesting or worth watching. The pilot sort of felt like torture, which is a bad sign.
Pilot Grade: F

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 new show of 2016. It might end up being the first cancelled show of 2016. We'll see. The ratings got a bump on Sunday thanks to the NFL playoffs over run, but the show's quality didn't improve. This is a very poor man's attempt at making a "Hangover" type TV series. It doesn't work. I'm sure they think they're clever and interesting, but I didn't get that. I liked the second episode even less than the first, which is a problem. I think this show is awful, and I'm not sure how it fits on FOX's (mostly) animated Sunday night.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: F

Bordertown, Sundays at 9:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 3)
About: This does feel like a series that fits on FOX's animated Sunday nights. It comes from producer Seth Macfarlane and centers on a white family and Mexican family living in a town on the border, and the hilarity that ensues. I'm sure there are some people that would find this interesting and clever. I'm not one of them. I wasn't drawn to the characters or the story, and I cringed at some of the plot. Macfarlane likes to live on the edge of that place between comedic observations and offensive statements about race and culture. This show is trying to ride that fine line but, to me, feels like too much of an offensive stereotype. Maybe this is the kind of comedy you like, but it's not for me. I thought the second episode was even harder to watch than the first.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: D-

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