Winter TV Roundup, Week 6
We are into February, and the new show releases are heating up. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this winter. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
24: Legacy, Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered February 5)
About: This latest iteration of FOX's classic series, "24," got the post-Super Bowl slot this year. It didn't get good reviews, and it didn't draw a ton of eyeballs. The second episode aired last night in its normal slot. It follows a new hero, as Jack Bauer is retired. Corey Hawkins ("Straight Outta Compton") takes the lead as a special forces soldier that gets in too deep in what will, doubtless, be the longest day of his life. It's a plot full of cliches and two-dimensional characters. I wasn't impressed with either episode, and found it to be dull. That's not a great sign, but certainly in line with early reviews. I wasn't a huge fan of the original series, giving up after the first season. So maybe this isn't for me. But in FOX's current nostalgia kick, this isn't one of their better entries.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: C-
APB, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered February 6)
About: This is the other new entry on FOX, and follows a billionaire (Justin Kirk), who negotiates to take over a run-down police precinct in Chicago and infuses it with technology and attitude. It's an interesting and unique premise, and the pilot does some interesting things. But this feels a little more formulaic than one would like, and Kirk's central character isn't as endearing as the writers think he is. I didn't hate the pilot, but I didn't love it either. It was kind of a shoulder shrug. That's not terrible, but considering we're in an incredibly crowded TV market, that's a rough sell. The second episode of this series should tell a lot about its trajectory.
Pilot Grade: C
Superior Doughnuts, Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBS (Premiered February 2)
About: This latest CBS sitcom got a special premier behind "The Big Bang Theory" on Thursday night before settling into its normal timeslot on Monday night. It is based on the Tracie Letts stage play, and it has a strong cast that includes Judd Hirsch and Katey Segal. The problem here is this is incredibly dry. As a two-hour filmed stage production, it might have some special appeal. But it doesn't work as a half-hour sitcom. It's OK, but a tad dry. It feels too forced at times and doesn't really work. I like the cast, but they need better material.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
Powerless, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC (Premiered February 2)
About: This is the latest comedy from NBC, and it's a Super Hero show, of sorts. It's set in the world of D.C. Comics, but it doesn't really have any top tier heroes. Though the pilot does reference Bruce Wayne/Batman, and all the employees work at Wayne Enterprises. But they work for Bruce's cousin (Alan Tudyk), and the series focuses on a group tasked with coming up with inventions to keep the regular folks safe from the Super Heroes and Super Villains, or rather the damage they cause. This, of course, has been a common refrain in D.C. and Marvel films, and here it gets a bit of a comedic bent. The cast includes Vanessa Hudgens and Dani Pudi, and NBC is hoping to strike comedy gold again. The pilot was just OK. It was amusing, and I could see some potential there, but I'm not totally sold. The second episode will give a better feel for the direction of the series beyond the template laid out in the pilot.
Pilot Grade: C+
Riverdale, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered January 26)
About: This series is based on the Archie Comics. It has the familiar characters, including Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead, but this isn't your parents' Archie series. It was billed as a cross between "Dawson's Creek" and "Twin Peaks," and that comparison is apt. There's plenty of familiar tropes of teen dramas here, and there's also plenty of dark fair for the adult characters, in addition to a murder mystery. The pilot was different than what I expected, and far more enjoyable. I liked the second episode even better. But this feels like a series more aimed at older Millennials (28-40 year olds) rather than the typical CW demo, which usually skews more in the 16-30 range. That could be part of the reason it isn't a ratings hit. This feels like a throw back to late 1990s-early 2000s teen dramas, and that's probably the demographic that will enjoy it the most.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B
Training Day, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS (Premiered February 2)
About: While this show has the same name as the famous movie that won Denzel Washington an Oscar, that's kind of where the similarities end. At least in my opinion. The series doesn't follow the same characters, but it is set in the same general world. The pilot references Denzel's character from the film, but then moves on to the present. It follows a semi-rule breaking/corrupt detective (Bill Paxton) and a young, idealistic officer partnered with him to report back to higher ups, and the pilot also introduced a long-term mystery. There was a lot going on, and it was mildly interesting at times, but not overly compelling. It got terrible ratings, too, which on CBS is likely a quick kiss of death.
Pilot Grade: C-
Santa Clarita Diet, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered February 3)
About: This latest series from Netflix is a comedy. It comes from Victor Fresco, who delivered the under rated "Better Off Ted." It stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as a pair of real estate agents just trying to make it in a quaint Southern California suburb. Then comes the twist. Barrymore wakes up one day, vomits a lot, and seems to have died. She comes back almost the same, except that she now craves human flesh. So it's a suburban comedy about zombies. That might sound like a lot to take in, but this is one of the funniest and sharpest series I've seen this year. It's 10-episode first season is all available, and with episodes in the 25-29 minute range, it's a quick watch. I enjoyed the entire first season, but I was really hooked from the pilot. This should be another hit for Netflix.
Pilot Grade: A-
Second Episode: A-