Fall TV Roundup, Week 3

Fall TV Season is in full bloom, and there's lot's of new shows to discuss. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new script series this fall. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Kevin Can Wait, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 19)
About: Kevin James is back on network TV, and while his fans might rejoice, those looking for the next great CBS comedy have more waiting to do. This show is fine. It ticks all the boxes. James is strong in the lead role. I like Erin Hays as his wife. They have a decent rapport. It's just that the show is incredibly familiar and pretty boring. That's not an ideal combination. This show is fine, and will probably be decently rated for CBS, but it's nothing special and not a show you need to make a point to watch each week.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Tuesday Nights:
Bull, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 20)
About: Michael Weatherly, formerly of "NCIS," is branching out and taking the lead role in his own show. Said show is loosely based on the work Dr. Phil McGraw did as a jury consultant before starting his talk show empire. And the result is.... well it's something completely plodding and predictable. Weatherly is saddled with a smug and not that interesting character, too, which is a problem. Worse yet, the CBS marketing department, forgetting this was a courtroom drama, gave away the outcome of the trial in the pilot episode in its Fall Preview. So there I was, watching a smug and unlikeable character ham his way through a boring hour that I had already seen the outcome of in a preview. It was a rough watch, to say the least. Maybe this improves, but I doubt it.
Pilot Grade: C-

This Is Us, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered September 20)
About: This was the most watched trailer prior to the new fall season, and arguably the most anticipated new show. It came with a big twist at the end of the pilot, too, that got a lot of people's attention. I thought the pilot was a decent presentation. While it had been hyped up as the next great American drama, I didn't get that strong of a feeling from "This Is Us." However, it was decent and had some interesting characters and set up. There was a blend of humor and drama, and I thought the episode played out pretty well. But is it sustainable? Can we care beyond the forced emotions drawn out in that first hour? That remains to be seen.
Pilot Grade: C+

Wednesday Nights:
Lethal Weapon, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 21)
About: This series is based on the popular film series, and was something I thought would be one of the longest reaches of the new fall season. Instead, the pilot kinda sorta worked for me, at least more than I expected. The series follows 50-year-old cop Roger Murtagh (Damon Wayans, Sr.) and his crazy new partner Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford). Their styles don't mesh, but some how it works. The pilot followed the plot of the original movie pretty closely, and it was surprisingly engaging. Of course the supporting characters were woefully under developed and the case-of-the-week wasn't great. But that might develop. For now, I thought this was better than expected, though I'd still temper my expectations.
Pilot Grade: B-

Speechless, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered September 21)
About: This was the most disappointing pilot for me of premier week. It wasn't the worst, but it failed to meet the lofty expectations I have for it. The series looked hilarious and like a sure winner. And the pilot was...alright. It was fine. It had some good characters and some amusing moments. But most of the best bits were in the trailer, and the rest of it didn't really build on that, which was a shame for me. This is very on-brand for ABC, which it's family comedy blocks on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. So there's an audience here. But I think it could have been better. I'm curious to see where it goes in its second half hour.
Pilot Grade: C+

Designated Survivor, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered September 21)
About: This was a series I most looked forward to seeing, and it didn't disappoint. Kiefer Sutherland stars as a lower level cabinet secretary who's suddenly thrust into the role of President of the United States after a terrorism attack. It's an exceptional premise, and it was a show that looked like potentially the best new network series of the year. I thought the pilot was very well put together, well acted, and flowed at a good pace. I was incredibly impressed and drawn into the first hour, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
Pilot Grade: A-

American Horror Story: Roanoke, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on F/X (Premiered September 14)
About: The latest edition of "American Horror Story" is taking on a type of true crime documentary. It also appears to be similar to season one — dubbed Murder House — as it's set in a house that seems to have been a place where a lot of evil deeds were done. I thought the pilot was a little slow and toned down. The second episode picked up the action — and the scares — but still isn't as gross as previous installments. I kind of like where this one is headed, and I see some potential here. The second episode actually scared me a bit, which hasn't happened with a show in a while.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: B-

Thursday Nights:
Pitch, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 22)
About: This was FOX's big swing for the fall, and the pilot was a hit. It's about a female who makes her major league debut as a pitcher. I wasn't sold on the concept or the promotional material, and I was tempted to dismiss the series. But the pilot got to me in ways I didn't expect. I was particularly drawn to an arc about the girl's father, played by Michael Beach, that had a surprisingly emotional twist at the end. The pilot also did a nice job of not being hokey with the baseball and having things play out perfectly, which was a welcome change-of-pace. I am curious to see where this goes.
Pilot Grade: B-

Notorious, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC (Premiered September 22)
About: ABC had a great looking Fall lineup, but this one didn't work for me in the preview or when I watched the full pilot. It's about a producer at a news show and the lawyer she works with to help his clients and boost her ratings. It's airing in the plush "Scandal" timeslot, but it didn't do well out of the gate. The pilot was trying too hard to be edgy and it didn't work. Perhaps the cast and crew are capable of more, but for now this feels like a miss.
Pilot Grade: C

Friday Nights:
MacGyver, Fridays at 8 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 23)
About: MacGyver is back, but that's not really a good thing. Lucas Til slides into the starring role, and now he's applying those special skills to a covert government agency, running secret spy missions. Ugh. The pilot was slow and uneven, and it did a poor job of developing characters. Til doesn't have enough personality to carry it off, either. This feels like a big swing and a miss.
Pilot Grade: C

The Exorcist, Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 23)
About: This was another big surprise for me. I was sure this idea would flop. Do we really need a re-make of the classic film with Geena Davis in the starring role? No, we don't. But somehow the pilot worked for me more than I thought it would. The scares were there, but the pilot was a slow build on the story and the characters. And it's more of a religious exploration than the film was. From that standpoint, I thought it worked pretty well. It's not a great show, but for this genre it could work on Fridays for FOX.
Pilot Grade: B-

Van Helsing, Fridays at 10 p.m. on SyFy (Premiered September 23)
About: This is the latest series from SyFy, a re-imagining of Van Helsing as a woman, set in the future, where she can now save mankind. Her blood is the key to reversing the vampire curse and... boring. Yes, the pilot was sluggish and weird at best. The second episode, which aired after, was more interesting. It went back to 2016, the present, to show how we got to the events of the pilot. While that was intriguing, I have a feeling it could be an outlier. This show is probably OK for vampire show fans, but doesn't work for casual viewers. The cast doesn't help, either.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C

Sunday Nights:
Son of Zorn, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 11)
About: This is easily the worst new show of the season so far. It's a hybrid live action-animated series. It features a decent cast, but they are totally wasted here. I was bored by the pilot, and the second episode was even worse. This is a real swing and a miss, even for fans of the genre.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D


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