Winter TV Roundup, Week 6

In these weekly posts I look at the new scripted series of the winter. I review the pilot and second episodes. Don't see a new show below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Full Frontal, Mondays at 10:30 a.m. on TBS (Premiered February 8)
About: Even before Jon Stewart hung it up, "Daily Show" correspondents started moving on to their own feature opportunities. John Oliver is great on HBO, Larry Fillmore has a nightly show on Comedy Central, and Stephen Colbert now has the David Letterman spot in late night. The latest to grab their own show is Samantha Bee. This is remarkable for a couple reasons: first, it's breaking some new ground for TBS; and second, Bee is one of the only women making a mark in late night. And that can't be dismissed, and shouldn't be overlooked. I always liked Bee as a contributor on "The Daily Show," and I think she'll do well in a starring role on her own show. The first episode featured a lot of political chat — which makes sense given the season — and allowed Bee to riff on what she was seeing. I thought it had some funny moments, and she worked well in the leading role. Also, she broke with the format of "The Daily Show," which I think has been critical to helping shows like this succeed. She did her own thing, and I think it will be a nice addition to the late night scene.
Pilot Grade: B

Tuesday Nights:
Outsiders, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on WGN America (Premiered January 26)
About: This is the latest original series from WGN America, a show that's aiming at filling the edgy show hole left by "Sons of Anarchy." This is about a clan of mountain folk that loom large over the town below, and the mining company that is pressuring the local authorities to clear them from their mountain home so they can make a buck. At least that's the supposed set up. One of my issues is that through two episodes it hasn't clearly been established what the story is going to be and it's been slow at establishing the characters and where it's all going. I think there's some potential to be something here that just hasn't come together. I find the show dry and a little boring.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX (Premiered February 2)
About: This is the latest anthology story to his the airwaves, and it comes from producer Ryan Murphy, the man behind "Scream Queens" and "American Horror Story." So it was easy to wonder what this series would be like. But the pilot for this episode was stunning. There's no mystery about who will be in the series or what's going to happen. This is a matter of historical record, and in fact it was a trial that most people watched to an obsessive degree. But this show is based on a book that fills in what you didn't see and tries to flesh out these characters. The performances were great — I think Cuba Gooding, Jr., John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Sarah Paulson, and Courtney B. Vance were great choices. And I think it's been enough time that this series will bring this trial to life in an interesting and vibrant way.
Pilot Grade: A-

Thursday Nights:
You and Me and the Apocalypse, Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC (Premiered January 28)
About: This co-production with the BBC follows people in England and America that are preparing for the end of the world. This is a potentially funny set up. Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer, and Megan Mullally are among the cast. That, too, seems promising. But the problem is the show is just too boring. I have no idea what they're trying to accomplish or where they're going, and worse yet I don't care. This is another interesting idea brought to life in a limp way for NBC.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-

Friday Nights:
Animals, Fridays at 11:30 p.m. on HBO (Premiered February 5)
About: This new animated series appears on Fridays late night for HBO. It comes from the Duplass brothers, and it's supposed to be a comedic look at the lives of animals. The pilot episode followed a group of rats who were partying it up. And it was... awful. There's nothing else to say. This show was a hot mess and I don't see why it's even on.
Pilot Grade: F


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