Fall TV Roundup, Week 2


We have finally reached premier week. In fact, I know it's premier week because I'm getting daily e-mail surveys from Nielsen. The secret is out, I'll watch anything... In these weekly recaps, I look at the pilot and second episodes of new scripted series this fall. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Night:
Kevin Can Wait, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 19)
About: This is the latest CBS sitcom from Kevin James, star of "King of Queens." In this series he's a husband and father to three who recently retired as a cop. He's looking forward to retirement, and all his grand plans, but life soon intercedes. Hilarity ensues... at least that's the hope. This show gets a nice post-"Big Bang Theory" bump for a few weeks this fall, then gets paired with a similarly themed sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc. It's hard to say which show will be more plodding. I like James and his brand of humor, and Erin Hayes was good as his wife. But the pilot was dry, slow, and overly predictable. This feels like the kind of show we've seen 100 times before, which isn't a great sticking point in a crowded market.
Pilot Grade: C

Wednesday Night:
American Horror Story: 6, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on F/X (Premiered September 14)
About: This is the sixth season of the anthology horror series, so you're probably wondering why it's on this list. Well, since it's an anthology series, the story, characters and actors change from season-to-season, so it makes the cut. This season was a huge mystery and mis-direct. A bunch of creepy promos began over the summer, but we were told they were mostly all lies. On Wednesday we got the answer. This season is a true crime documentary series about an apparently haunted house. Or at least that's what the first episode would lead you to believe. At lot of famous AHS faces were there -- Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates in the pilot -- and there's probably plenty of scares to come. The pilot for season six was tamer than previous installments, and more reserved. It was interesting, but not as compelling as previous years. However, I'm curious to see where it's going, and if it picks up.
Pilot Grade: C

Thursday Night:
The Good Place, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC (Premiered September 19)
About: This is probably one of the loftiest concepts for a new comedy. A young woman (Kristen Bell) dies and wakes up in the after life. There she's told by the neighborhood planner (Ted Danson) that she's in "The Good Place." She's obviously relieved, until she realizes she got there by mistake. Right name, wrong girl. And things start to fall apart after she arrives. Now she has to try and redeem her ways to earn her place and help keep things from derailing. It's fair to say that no religious group is going to be thrilled about this story. But at the same time, this isn't meant to answer life's biggest questions. It's meant to be a comedy, but one that dares to ask bigger questions about ethics and morals. It features a great cast, especially Bell and Danson. The first two episodes aired in a block on Monday night behind "The Voice," but the show moves to its regular Thursday slot in two days. It's a big swing, and one I think could pay off. The first season is set at 13 episodes, and I'm curious to see how this plot can move forward and develop. It's definitely unique.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Better Things, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on F/X (Premiered September 8)
About: This show, from star/creator Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K., is meant to be a slice of life about a working actress, who's a single mom, and trying to find that work/life balance. There's some truth in the portrayal of this show. Adlon has a nice leading lady quality and I like the idea of the show. There's some funny moments and some dramatic moments here. But it feels a little uneven, and like a show that could easily get lost in the fall shuffle. The first two episodes were decent, but not overly engaging.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Streaming Series:
Fleabag, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Debuted September 16)
About
: The latest Amazon Prime comedy is an import from England, about a sexually adventurous woman who's trying to navigate love, family, and her failing business. There's an interesting POV in the show, and it's got a unique vibe. But there's not a ton that's overly compelling. If you're a fan of a certain kind of comedy, you'll be pleased with the edgy brand of humor here. Otherwise, this doesn't feel like something that's necessary in our already crowded television landscape. I was interested in the pilot, but the second episode felt like a weird step back.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C

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