Winter TV Roundup, Week 12


Spring sprung on Monday, but before it did we got a few more new shows this winter. 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.

Tuesday Nights:
Trial & Error, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC (Premiered March 14)
About: This is the latest comedy from NBC. It got a two-episode premier after the finale of the NBC hit "This Is Us" last Tuesday, and now it will be airing two episodes a week in that timeslot. So it's a compressed season. The comedy stars John Lithgow as a poet accused of killing his wife. Nicholas D'Agosto is the junior lawyer attached to his case and Jayma Mays is the upward clawing DA aiming to put him away. The whole season will follow the trial documentary style. Consider this the comedic version of "Making a Murderer." The pilot was uneven, but the second episode made me smile quite a bit. Not too many people tuned into the show, and it's probably the kind of niche programming that's a tough sell. That being said, I liked the idea and execution a lot more than I expected. This series has some potential.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: B-

Sunday Nights:
American Crime, Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered March 12)
About: This is ABC's answer to the anthology series, now in its third iteration. It hails from John Ridley, scribe of "12 Years A Slave." It features a core of recurring players, most notably Felicity Huffman and Regina King. I really enjoyed the first season, though it was sometimes a slog to get through. I fell out on season two and similarly feel out on season three after two episodes. This season takes the action to North Carolina and takes a hard look at the underage sex trade and slave labor among illegals, among other topics. There's a lot going on here, and the season features some important topics, but it's such a grim watch. It feels like there's little here except sorrow, heart-break, and suffering. That might be true to life, but most of us appreciate the escape that TV provides. This is well acted and constructed, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+

Streaming Series:
Snatch, now streaming on Crackle (Premiered March 16)
About: This latest original drama from Crackle features a new take on the Guy Ritchie gangster film "Snatched." Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Ritchie films stand out because of a unique cinematic style. That's not an easy thing to capture. And this series doesn't really get it. Sure, it's about some colorful characters and crime gone wrong, but that's not enough to make it stand out. The first couple episodes move along at a decent clip, but  there's little that feels compelling about the series and the characters, and not compelling reason to slog through the full 10 episodes.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Iron Fist, now streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 17)
About: The final Defender is here. Netflix, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, under took a long-term project to build up a core of heroes centered in New York that will, eventually, become a super team. We've already met Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage in series of their own. And all will join for "Defenders" later this year. But before then, the final defender takes a bow in the new "Iron Fist" series. The show centers on Danny Rand (Finn Jones), who disappeared 15 years earlier and was presumed to have died with his parents in a plane crash. But he didn't. He returns home to New York and most are skeptical of who he says he is, and even more skeptical that he's spent the past 15 years training to be the living weapon known as Iron Fist. But, by the end of episode two, people are starting to believe. Unlike previous Marvel series on Netflix, "Iron Fist" has drawn some middling to poor reviews. I came into it with lower expectations and, despite the early reviews, I thought it was passable. It lacks the pop of "Jessica Jones" and the intrigue of "Daredevil" but it's far from the worst series I've seen this year. The first two episodes are slow, and the cast is uneven. Jones does a decent job in the lead role, and I like the supporting roles played by Jessica Stroup and Jessica Henwick, but  Tom Pelphrey feels like a bit of a weak link as the villainous Ward Meachum. This doesn't feel like one of the better Marvel series, but for fans of the genre, and those invested in the world, it is a must watch. Here's to hoping the action picks up in the rest of the first season, too.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

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