Spring TV Roundup — Week 3

In these weekly posts I review the new scripted shows of Spring. See reviews of the pilot and second episodes below. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Damien, Mondays at 10 p.m. on A&E (Premiered March 7)
About: This new series is a sequel to the 1976 horror film "The Omen." This time it focuses on an adult Damien Thorn (Bradley James) who is about to come into his power but doesn't really know who he is. The pilot was about planting the seeds and it was dry and a little boring. The second episode was worse. Maybe as a movie follow up, compressed to 90-95 minutes, I could see this working. But as a weekly series? Who cares? And are we really supposed to feel bad for the Anti Christ? That's clearly what they're going for to some extent but I can't summon up the will to care. A&E scored big with "Bates Motel," a take off on another classic horror film, so you can see why they'd pursue this. But the series doesn't work. It's weird and boring, never a good combination.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D

Tuesday Nights:
Of Kings and Prophets, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered March 8)
About: This is the latest Tuesday night drama for ABC, a time slot that has been doom to new shows. This is a show that seemed doomed before it premiered. It's a sword and sandals drama straight out of the Bible. It follows a young David as he meets and, soon, clashes with King Saul. It was green lit by ABC during a time when Bible stories were hot — before "The Bible A.D." crashed and burned for NBC last Spring. And "Of Kings and Prophets" was supposed to air on Sunday nights in the fall, but ABC punted — holding the show for Spring and putting "Quantico" in that time slot. That wasn't a good sign, nor were rumors of re-writes and re-shoots for the pilot. And when that pilot finally came out it was.... boring and predictable. And at the same time, it seemed to stray from the Bible and focus on the more tawdry aspects of the story. So that won't help it land the Bible crowd, and the crowd that just enjoys well-written TV will be avoiding it like the plague, too. And with good reason. The pilot was awful, and I can't see the series taking a big step forward. I think it's only a matter of time until this is pulled from the air.
Pilot Grade: D

Wednesday Nights:
Underground, Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on WGN America (Premiered March 9)
About: This is the latest series from WGN America, which is looking for a solid hit. This one is set in Georgia in 1857 and follows a group of slaves yearning to break free. It's also a different kind of show, one that had its music selected by John Legend and rooted in the present. The pilot, which aired commercial free, opened and closed with "Black Skinhead" from Kanye West, making a statement about the series and the younger audience it wants to attract. But it matched that with an interesting story and performances. Christopher Meloni did a nice job in the pilot as a shady slave hunter, while Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell did a nice job as two of the central slaves planning to run. I'm curious to see where this one goes, but I thought the pilot did a nice job of establishing the characters and the world.
Pilot Grade: B-

Hap and Leonard, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Sundance (Premiered March 2)
About: This series — based on the novels from Joe Lansdale — is about a pair of down-on-their-luck friends in the 1980s in Texas that get roped into a scheme to make some quick cash. I like James Purfoy and Michael K. Williams, who play the title characters, and Christina Hendricks is good in a supporting role. But the first two episodes were a bit boring, and I couldn't see a compelling reason to stick with the series. If you liked the books, then you will probably be drawn to this series. But despite the talent involved, I couldn't get into this series.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-

Streaming Series:
Flaked, now streaming on Netflix (Debuted March 11)
About: This is the latest comedy for Netflix, which dropped its complete first season (eight episodes) on Friday. The series stars Will Arnett as a recovering alcoholic trying to navigate a laid back lifestyle in Venice, California. Aren't created the series along with Mark Chappell, and "Arrested Development" creator Mitchell Hurwitz is an Executive Producer for the series. Both the pilot and second episode had a nice, breezy quality. The series certainly captures the perspective of a certain type of person in a certain area. But I don't think this is the kind of show that has a broad, mass appeal. Arnett is fine in the role and the first two episodes were mildly entertaining. But there was nothing here that hooked my attention or created a compelling reason to watch the series. Those looking for something like "Arrested Development" will be disappointed.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-


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