Winter TV Roundup, Week 5

We are on the cusp of February sweeps, which brings an onslaught of new programming. For now, we have the last gasp of January newbies to consider. I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this winter in these weekly posts. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
Six, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on the History Channel (Premiered January 18)
This series is supposed to be a stirring and patriotic look at what it means to be a Navy Seal, specifically part of Seal Team Six. It features a former member (Walton Goggins), who is grabbed by terrorists in Africa, and his former team who comes to his rescue. At least that's where it's going a presume. The second episode was split between domestic drama at home -- one couple dealing with infertility, one guy dealing with being too much of a player, and one trying to balance home responsibilities with work life -- and Goggins stuck in a prison camp. Neither aspect was too engaging, and both felt pretty cliche. But that's been the problem with this series, which traffics in cliches and caricatures instead of interesting characters and stories... This is a missed opportunity.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D

Thursday Nights:
Riverdale, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered January 26)
About: This week we get a glut of new premiers on Thursday, but the CW decided to jump the line by rolling out its high-profile new teen drama "Riverdale" last week. It's been advertised as 90210 meets "Twin Peaks," and they certainly are trying to appeal to older Millennials like me by casting Madchen Amick and Luke Perry as parents in the series. This is also based on the "Archie" comic books, but if you're expecting a classic "Archie" tale, you'll be confused. To be fair, in recent years the "Archie" comics have undergone quite a transformation, so this isn't as big a stretch as one might assume. After all, the showrunner and creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, was an executive at Archie Comics. I have always been a big fan of teen dramas, and the pilot for this one played right into my wheelhouse by trafficking on plots that fans of "90210," "Dawson's Creek," "The OC," and "Gossip Girl" would recognize right away. And it added an extra layer of a murder mystery component. I was prepared to mock this show based on the trailer, but by the end of the pilot I found myself drawn in. I think this has some potential.
Pilot Grade: B-

Streaming Series:
Z: The Beginning of Everything, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Debuted January 27)
About: Amazon has been in the practice of running its pilot season publicly for several years. Viewers get a slate of pilots to watch and get to give feedback, which Amazon uses when ordering series. In the fall of 2015, "Z" was among six pilots offered to the public. Of that group, four were ordered to series so far. But of the six pilots, "Z" was by far the one I liked the least. It's based on a book about Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, and stars Christina Ricci as Zelda, chronicling her love affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald and their life together. She was, supposedly, the inspiration for his great novels. And you'd expect the series to pop in some way. The pilot fizzled for me. I was surprised it got picked up to series, and checked the second episode when it debuted on Friday. It wasn't any better. I think this is a flaccid period drama and I'm not sure what we're supposed to take from it. Amazon has some interesting shows and some great shows, but this isn't one of them. Like previous pilot partner "Good Girls in Revolt," I think this series will be a one season wonder.
Pilot Grade: F
Second Episode; D


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