Fall TV Roundup, Week Six
The saturation of new shows is reaching a tipping point this fall, but they keep on coming. Each week I look at the pilot and second episode of new shows this fall. Don't see a new show below? Check previous weeks.
American Housewife, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered October 11)
About: This is the latest family comedy from ABC. Originally titled "The Second Fattest Housewife in Connecticut," this show was wisely re-titled. It stars Katy Mixon, and it's meant to fit into the mold for ABC family comedies. It sort of does that. But the pilot spent a lot of time focused on stereotypes in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Mixon's character's weight. There was a bit of fat shaming here which didn't work, especially since I gather that the show is supposed to be aimed at being comforting for plus size people. Also, the jokes were too few and too extreme. ABC has a comedy brand, and it works for them. It doesn't usually work for me. Thus, "American Housewife" might be a good fit for the brand, but I'm clearly not the target audience.
Pilot Grade: C
No Tomorrow, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered October 4)
About: This is the lowest rated show on the CW, which isn't great. It's one of the lowest rated shows I've seen through two episodes, which doesn't bode well for its future. And the reason is in part the network — as CW ratings always run lowest of the five networks — but also about the quality and content of the series. It's about a straight-laced woman who meets a crazy guy that thinks the world is ending. Can they impact each other? Can this be an unconventional love story? Who cares? That last question was mine, not the people marketing the series. Through two episodes the series is OK, mildly amusing at times, and not compelling enough to hook a weekly audience. It's not awful, but it's not interesting either, at least not as interesting as it wants you to believe. I saw two episodes, and that was enough for me. I'm sure some will find it quirky and fun, but there's a reason it drew a 0.2 in the target demo in week two.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on SyFy (Premiered October 11)
About: This is a new horror anthology series for SyFy, this one based on Internet urban legends. This first one — "Candle Cove" — centers on the disappearance of children linked to a mysterious show that appears on TV. Years later, one of the survivors returns to investigate the crime when the show starts appearing again. In theory, this is a smart move by SyFy. Horror anthology shows have proven successful, as witnessed by "American Horror Story," and it's a good time of year to launch one. I like the concept of tackling Internet urban legends, too, and this seems like a promising one. The pilot, however, was fine, but a little boring. I could see this working, but the first episode wasn't compelling enough to hook me.
Pilot Grade: C
Frequency, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered October 5)
About: The CW only airs 10 hours of Prime Time during the week, and this was its second new show. Much like "No Tomorrow," it's been a ratings flop. I arguably like this one better. It's based on the 2001 film, and though it changed a character's gender and another's profession, it's following the story of the film pretty carefully. I really enjoyed the pilot and had no problem getting sucked into the story. The second episode wasn't as good, and felt like the plot slowed quite a bit. That's the problem in taking a two hour movie and making a 13 hour or more series. You have to stretch it out and figure out how to go from a concept to a long-term journey. "Frequency" isn't quite there, and doesn't have the audience to have a margin for error. I'm not sure this works as a series, no matter how much I enjoyed the pilot.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+
Divorce, Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO (Premiered October 9)
About: Sarah Jessica Parker headlines this half hour for HBO, and there's a hope that this will be a new comedy hit. But the pilot was very uneven, and very unappealing. The second episode was admittedly better, but not better enough. Parker is a talented actress, but she's saddled with a shrewish and unlikeable character here. She's supposed to be the hero — at least that's what the show wants her to be — but her character's actions don't jive with that. The show is painfully unfunny at times, and that's a problem as it's allegedly a comedy. I'm not sure what they were aiming for here, but it doesn't work.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: C-
Eyewitness, Sundays at 10 p.m. on USA (Premiered October 16)
About: USA has spent a few years changing its typical brand and re-making the idea of the shows that appear on its network. "Eyewitness" fits with that mission, as it's a crime drama that airs on Sunday nights — a prime slot for premium cable series. This show wants to be in that rarefied air, but the material doesn't live up to it. In the pilot we're introduced to a pair of teenage boys having an affair in the woods who get caught up in a murder scene. One is popular at school and living in denial. The other is a foster kid, living with the town sheriff. Both are in over their head and... you've changed the channel. The plot feels overly familiar and not interesting enough. The pilot moved at a glacial pace yet somehow managed not to develop the characters or the story in a compelling way. USA is trying something here, but the pilot doesn't get them there.
Pilot Grade: C
Insecure, Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO (Premiered October 9)
About: This show comes from Issa Rae and is based loosely on her life experiences. It tells a very specific story — giving voice to a 20-something African America woman. And I think it does that in a strong way, in fact I found parts of both episodes interesting and compelling. But I'm not the target audience for this show, and I think that's why I struggled to connect to its message. I like Rae's talent, and I think she's doing something different, but this is a show that won't work for all audiences. I also though the second episode dragged at times.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C
Haters Back Off, Now Streaming on Netflix (Debuted October 14)
About: This series comes from Colleen Ballinger and is the series version of her character Miranda Sings. It's about a girl who has lofty aspirations, an ill temperament, and little talent to match. Once she posts on YouTube, that becomes apparent. I'll save you some time, this series is awful. True confession, I couldn't finish the second episode.
Pilot Grade: D-
Second Episode: F
Goliath, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Debuted on October 14)
About: This latest Amazon series comes from David E. Kelley and stars Billy Bob Thornton as a lawyer with talent who's struggling a bit lately. He's handed a juicy wrongful death case against a major company represented by his former big time law firm. As he looks into the specifics, things begin to happen and he begins to unravel a dangerous conspiracy. There are some hall marks of Kelley here, including some quirky characters working at the big law firm. But this is darker and more dramatic than some of his other Network series. I like Thornton, and I liked the potential in the first two episodes, but this series is merely good, not great, despite the talent involved. Still, I'm curious to see how the mystery unfolds.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-