Spring TV Roundup, Week 11

Spring is quickly transitioning towards summer. In a couple weeks, the first of our summer shows will be out. For now, it's the last of the "Spring" premiers. In these posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted shows. Don't see a new show listed below, check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Houdini & Doyle, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered May 2)
About: This latest mystery series centers on real life personalities Harry Houdini, the illusionist, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of "Sherlock Holmes," as they explore supernatural cases. Doyle wants to believe and Houdini is more of a skeptic. I liked the pilot, the interchange between the characters and the general arc of the story. The second episode felt like a carbon-copy, and didn't give us much in a step up in the characters. It also wasn't that interesting of a story. I like the idea here, and I like the lead actors — Stephen Mangan and Michael Weston — but it feels a little too much like a procedural. This can sometimes tend to happen for new series. The first episodes after the pilot can feel like a step back and something too formulaic. It's possible this will take a step back up. And if you like these kind of mystery series, this probably still works. But I thought it was a little too dry for my liking in the second episode, and I feel like it might be more like "NCIS" and less like "Sherlock." Perhaps that's why it debuted in May amidst finales and the dead period before summer series start.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C

Streaming Series:
Marseille, now streaming on Netflix (Debuted May 5)
About: If you like political dramas, scheming, and soapy storylines, "Marseille" is for you. If you don't care about French politics or subtitles, I take that back. This new series — all eight episodes debuted Thursday — wants to be a little like "House of Cards," but set in the seaside city of Marseille, France. It's entirely in French and is subtitled for American audiences. It's got a lot of cultural nuances that you might struggle to pick up if you don't know much about the city or country. And it's not one of those shows you can easily have on in the background — unless you speak fluent French — because you have to read it. It stars one recognizable star — Gerard Depardieu — who is the mayor of Marseille. He's served 20 years and is about to realize his dream of revitalizing the port in his city as he prepares to hand off his empire to his protege. When that protege stabs him in the back, he has to re-think his plan. There's also stories about families, affairs, and the warring interests that want to control the port. The first two episodes were well executed and built a story. If you're a fan of these type of stories, and you don't mind subtitles, this is for you.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+


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