Summer TV Roundup, Week 3

Summer is in full bloom at the movies, and getting that way on TV. In these weekly posts I look at the new scripted series of summer. I'll review the pilot and second episode of each. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Feed The Beast, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on AMC (Premiered June 5)
About: This is the latest series from AMC, focusing on a pair of friends (Jim Sturgess and David Schwimmer) who are fighting to open a new restaurant. The show was supposed to debut on May 31 but got bumped back to June 5 to air behind "Preacher." The pilot sets up the world and characters. One (Sturgess) is an ex-con with a cocaine habit that's in too deep with the mob and the cops, but he's an expert chef. The other (Schwimmer) is still struggling after the death of his wife, trying to raise a son who's gone mute since the tragedy and make a living selling wines. The pilot hit on a lot of cliches, and it wasn't great, but there's some potential here. I like the idea more than I liked the execution. The second episode airs tonight, so it will be interesting to see where this series goes.
Pilot Grade: C

Wednesday Nights:
Cleverman, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Sundance (Premiered June 1)
About: This series is an import from Australia that might not connect with American audiences. It's based on a legend from the aboriginal people in that era, and that is crossed with a plot that is reminiscent of "District 9," the film about aliens kept in a detention zone in South Africa. The show wants to say something about racism, discrimination, and the cruelty of governments and society. It also wants to weave in a bit of magic that's part of the Australian cultural lore. That doesn't translate well to American audiences, at least it didn't in the pilot, which was confusing. Add to that a lack of compelling performances and this might be doomed to TV obscurity. Remember, we're going to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 scripted series this year, and they can't all be winners.
Pilot Grade: C-

Sunday Nights:
Preacher, Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC (Premiered May 22)
About: AMC isn't doing "Preacher" any favors. The series is based on a Vertigo comic series. It got a debut behind "Fear The Walking Dead" two weeks ago, took a week off, then began again on Sunday night. That isn't great for momentum. Also not great for momentum with casual viewers is how closely this series hews to its source material without much in the way of explanation. I read a comment by one critic that the series is a treat for those familiar with the comics and almost unwatchable for those who aren't. Having not read the comics I agreed with that take. I didn't enjoy the pilot, which I thought was confusing and failed to really paint a picture of the world. The second episode wasn't immensely better, but it was a little easier to follow. That being said, this is likely an acquired taste. There's still a lot that isn't explained, and the look and feel of the series can sometimes be difficult. In addition, the semi-blasphemous tone will be a real turn off to people of faith. Hard to see this becoming the break out hit that AMC was seeking.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C


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