Winter TV Roundup, Week 8

We are just seven days from meteorological Spring, but we're still getting an influx of new winter shows. In these weekly posts I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted shows this winter. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Imposters, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo (Premiered February 7)
About: This was a pilot that surprised me. I thought the story and the cast was engaging, and I thought this had some potential for being engaging moving forward. But in watching the second episode, which I thought fell off a lot and fell into a formulaic pattern that I found far less compelling, I think this would have been a great idea for a movie, but stretched out over an ongoing series I'm not sure I see how it works. I still like Inbar Lavi in the lead role, and I'd like to see her in a project that's a bit more interesting. There is a lot going on here, but not enough of it was compelling for me to add this to an already crowded weekly viewing schedule. In the Golden Era of TV with so many options, you have to stand out. The pilot did, but as a series this doesn't.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C

Detroiters, Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central (Premiered February 7)
About: The latest comedy from Comedy Central is about a pair of ad men in woe begotten Detroit. There's some potential here, and I like Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson in the lead roles. But there wasn't enough of a hook here. This series is just OK. It has some amusing moments, but it's hardly compelling. It seems to fit with the Comedy Central brand, and will likely find a decent audience there. But, again, in a crowded TV landscape it's not compelling or unique enough to keep viewers hooked. In fact the second episode, minus a big guest star, dragged. That gives you a good idea of the template moving forward.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C

Wednesday Nights:
Legion, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX (Premiered February 8)
About: It's fair to say no show this year was as unique in its pilot as "Legion." Based on a Marvel comics property, the pilot for "Legion" from Noah Hawley was a fun and fascinating ride. It was unlike anything I'd seen both in tone, storytelling, and style. But would it work as a series? The pilot set the stage for a weird and wacky world, but the second episode created a vision and template for the series. I liked the second episode a bit better as the concept became more clear and the characters got more development. I thought the second episode was great in its own way, too, and I can see how this could quickly become one of the best series of the year. That is a credit to the cast — including Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza — and the talent of Hawley, who brought "Fargo" to the small screen.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B

Doubt, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS (Premiered February 15)
About: Katherine Heigl is back on network TV, this time with another new network — CBS — and in a legal thriller. Except the pilot wasn't all that thrilling. The rest of the cast includes Elliott Gould, Dule Hill and, most notably, Laverne Cox, who has become the first transgendered star of a network series. That all sounds great, but it would be nice if there was enough of a story to service them. The pilot was a mixture of setting up an ongoing case for the season and a case-of-the-week formula. Neither aspect got served well. I've seen reviews preaching patience with the series which, supposedly, hits its stride around episode four. I remain skeptical after what I saw Wednesday, and the fact that the ratings were dismal. I guess we'll see.
Pilot Grade: C-

Sunday Nights:
Big Little Lies, Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiered February 19)
About: This is HBO's latest high-profile project. This seven-episode limited series is based on the novel by Liane Moriarty, written by David E. Kelley, and directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. It features a cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley. With that pedigree, it's hard not to get excited. But the pilot left something to be desired. It wasn't overly long, clocking in at about 44 minutes, but it was incredible dry. It was hard to engage the plot in the pilot, and hard to even tell where these characters and plot are going. That's not a promising sign for keeping viewers hooked.
Pilot Grade: C-

Crashing, Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO (Premiered February 19)
About: HBO's other new Sunday show is the comedy "Crashing," which slots in behind the final season of "Girls." The series comes from comedian Pete Holmes, who stars in the series. It's about a struggling comic whose personal life falls apart. It features high-profile industry guest stars each week as part of its hook. I guess that might work for some, but it wasn't a great draw for me. The pilot, which was directed by Judd Apatow, had some amusing moments, but I wasn't drawn to the characters or the overall flow of the series.
Pilot Grade: C-

Streaming Series:
The Good Fight, Now Streaming on CBS All Access (Premiered February 19)
About: This spin-off from "The Good Wife" centers on Christine Branaski's character, Diane Lockhart, and got a premier Sunday night on CBS before moving to streaming only. I thought the pilot was OK. It had to do a lot of work to establish new characters and to drive new plot forward. If you loved "The Good Wife," this is for you. If not, this probably isn't compelling enough to get you to pony up for yet another streaming service.
Pilot Grade: C


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