Winter TV Roundup, Week 7

February is a big time for networks, it's one of the three periods where ratings competitions really heat up. Hence plenty of new series hoping to pluck eyeballs from rival networks. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of scripted series this winter. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
APB, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered February 6)
About: FOX launched an all new Monday night beginning in February. The first part of that is the re-boot of "24," which got the plum post-Super Bowl slot. The second part is "APB," a procedural drama that features a case-of-the-week. What makes it different is that it's about a rogue billionaire (Justin Kirk) who manages to take over a police precinct in Chicago, believing his technology can help stem the tide of unsolved crimes. Along the way his rough edges get smoothed out, and police resistance to his methods gets toned down. Of course that's already happened in just two episodes. And the episodes have been mildly interesting. This isn't a bad show, it's just not a necessary show. It doesn't provide enough pop in concept and characters to help it stand out from the crowd. We have entered an era of TV where 500 scripted series a year hit the air. There's only so much viewing time most people can devote, so to make it you have to be compelling. This show is fine, and an improvement over the limp "24:Legacy," but that's likely not enough to help it carve out a sizable audience.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Tuesday Nights:
Imposters, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo (Premiered February 7)
About: This is Bravo's second scripted series, and it was hard to know what to expect. What I saw in the pilot was something more interesting and engaging than I had thought. The series is about a group of con artists, specifically one woman named Maddie (Inbar Lavi), who choose marks and set up long cons. As the series begins, Maddie is married to a young man named Josh (Adam Korson), and appears to be a nice Belgian woman. Soon, she leaves Josh and takes all his money, maxing his credit cards and promising to disappear without a trace. Turns out Maddie isn't Belgian and has actually done all this many times before. Soon Josh connects with others who've been duped and begins a journey to find his wife. The performances were fascinating, as was the story that was weaved. Shows like this can have an excellent pilot and fall off, so we'll have to see how it develops. But the writing and execution were tighter than I expected, and I was more engaged in the plot than I expected. This is a series that could have some potential, and it reminds me a bit of what was done with "The Catch" on ABC last Spring. This, however, might have more dramatic potential.
Pilot Grade: B-

Detroiters, Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central (Premiered February 7)
About: This is the latest series to debut on Comedy Central. It focuses on a pair of loveable loser advertising men in modern day Detroit. Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson take the lead roles, and they play well off each other. The pilot moved along at a good clip and featured a number of funny moments. It also featured guest star Jason Sudeikis, who serves as a producer on the series. The series comes from Lorne Michael, and there's some promise here. I'm curious to see where it goes in the second episode when it settles into its regular pattern as a series, presumably without as high profile a guest star to help carry the load. Still, I've been a fan of Richardson for a while, particularly his work on "VEEP," and I think he and Robinson could create something worth watching on a weekly basis, particularly for those that enjoy comedies.
Pilot Grade: C+

Wednesday Nights:
Legion, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on F/X (Premiered February 8)
About: This is one of the most anticipated series of the year, based on a Marvel Comic in the "X-Men" universe and coming from writer/director/producer Noah Hawley, who is responsible for "Fargo" on F/X. The pilot was something totally different than I expected, which is probably true for most. It centers on David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man diagnosed a schizophrenic at a young age and institutionalized. But he's not really crazy, instead he has mutant powers that might make him the most powerful mutant in history. Much of the pilot is about the discovery of that truth and getting connected with a new group that might help David realize his potential. It was moody and shot with an interesting style. Hawley said he wanted it to be from David's perspective, and wanted David to be an "unreliable narrator," which makes for some fascinating stylistic choices. I didn't love the pilot, but I was intrigued by it. There was great care and quality to it, and it is unlike anything on TV right now. That gives it cache, even in a crowded marketplace. This is a series with potential.
Pilot Grade: B-

Thursday Nights:
Powerless, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC (Premiered February 2)
About: This latest sitcom is part of the DC Universe. No, it's not a superhero show, more like superhero adjacent. What it really wants to be is a work place comedy. That was clear in the second episode, which stepped away from some of the world-building trappings of the pilot to sink into the characters and their quirks. And there's something here. This isn't a home run like some of NBC's other comedies, including "The Good Place" and "Superstore." But there's the bones of something that reminds me of the more recent NBC Thursday night glory days when shows like "The Office" and "30 Rock" captured what it meant to be a part of a wacky workplace. Vanessa Hudgens is likeable in the lead role, and the supporting cast works well, too. This isn't great so far, but it's engaging. The road to re-building NBC's comedy era of old is well under way.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Training Day, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS (Premiered February 2)
About: CBS' new drama takes a name and some loose connection from the Academy Award winning film. But in the end it's a limp procedural that lacks any of the dynamic character and bite of that film. It's a shame, too, since Bill Paxton is a good actor to have in the lead role. But there's just nothing interesting or compelling about the series. And the ratings have shown that it hasn't been the audience draw CBS expected when buying a series with name value. The thing is, the movie "Training Day" wasn't the kind of series that can be replicated on a weekly basis for a network. And that's certainly been true of the first two episodes of this series, which were dull and formulaic.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D


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