Springs TV Roundup, Week Three


It's Spring, baseball has begun and so have shows about baseball! In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Spring. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Prison Break, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered April 4)
About: Some might argue this isn't a new show. That's fair. It aired for four seasons on FOX from 2005-2009 and even ended with a fitting series finale where the main character, Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller), died. But, after the successful revival of the "X-Files," FOX went all in on reviving content from a better era of production and ratings. So "Prison Break" is back. Is this its fifth season or a whole new iteration? Who's to say. What's clear is that all the original actors and production is back, including Miller, whose character was magically raised from the dead in the pilot. He's now in a terrible prison in the Middle East. His brother, Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), his wife Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), his former cellmate Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), and his confederate C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) are there to try and get him home. Of course, Lincoln has backslid into a life of crime, Sara is re-married, thinking her husband was dead for seven years, and C-Note has become a Muslim activist. Of course the nefarious T-Bag (Robert Knepper) is hanging around, too. But Michael isn't going by Michael, he's in a Yemen prison accused of being a famous terrorist. And he claims not to be Michael or recognize his family and friends. No doubt it's part of another elaborate scheme, one complete with a whole new set of tattoos. On the one hand, the pilot presentation of the "Prison Break Sequel," as IMDB calls it, was OK. But if this was a completely new show, would I be in? No, I wouldn't. Also, as a fan of the original, I thought it was beyond cheesy how they overturned the plot of the original series, particularly the ending. But I enjoyed the original series when it was on, and I'll be curious to see where they go with this iteration.
Pilot Grade: C

Imaginary Mary, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered March 29)
About: I went on record last week with the complaint that this felt a little awkward and off-brand for the successful ABC family comedy block. The second episode only confirmed that feeling. This is a comedy that seems to be settling into a formula. Jenna Elfman is a fish-out-of-water when it comes to parenting, but she's being thrown in the deep end. She makes some mistakes, realizes she messed up, and rallies by the end of the third act. All that is fine as the basis of family comedy, and has been the basis of successful family comedy series and movies. But this show tries to get cut by throwing in the imaginary friend that only Elfman's character sees. That is the part that just doesn't work, and makes the whole rest of the show odd. There's not enough in the family comedy element or characters to overcome this awkward plot device, which is why this feels like a big swing and a miss.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

Wednesday Nights:
Nobodies, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land (Premiered March 29)
About: This latest TV Land sitcom centers on a trio of comedians and writers, Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, Rachel Ramras, who work on a children's cartoon and aspire to greatness in the comedy realm. They have a script and they're trying to navigate the choppy waters of development with the help of their famous friends. Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone produce the series, and Falcone has been in each of the first two episodes. There's been plenty of other guest stars and name dropping. This is a comedy that is a little too inside baseball for many,and the jokes and character development just aren't quite there enough to make this compelling. We live in an incredibly crowded TV market. You have to be special to stand out. This doesn't make the cut.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D

Brockmire, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on IFC (Premiered April 5)
About: This latest IFC comedy is perfectly themed for the start of baseball season. It centers on Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria), a successful and famous baseball play-by-play man who finds out his wife is having an affair and has a public meltdown. A decade later, after living in exile all around the world and calling every sport known to man, he's lured back to a small town to help boost the profile of a struggling minor league team. The team's new owner (Amanda Peet) has a plan to save the team and her town, and Brockmire reluctantly agrees to get back in the game. But it's clear he's not quite the polished professional he used to be. The first two episodes of this series aired back-to-back on Wednesday and I thought they had some great moments. This is timely in terms of coming at the start of baseball season. Azaria is great in the lead role, and he and Peet play off each other well. This is a more adult comedy (think "Major League"), but it was also a lot of fun. I think there's some potential here for "Brockmire" to find a niche audience.
Pilot Grade: B
Second Episode: B-

Saturday Nights:
The Son, Saturdays at 9 p.m. on AMC (Premiered April 8)
About: Based on the novel from Philipp Meyer, "The Son" focuses on Eli McCullough at two periods in his life. First, in 1849 as he's captured by Comanche Indians and his family is killed. Second, in 1915 as Eli (Pierce Brosnan) tries to lead his family to prosperity through oil and cattle in south Texas. Adult Eli is a cruel and hard man, and the story of young Eli likely explains why. The first two episodes aired in a block on Saturday, and this had promise and potential as an interesting Western. First, you have to take some giant leaps of faith. The two stories are 66-years apart, yet Eli appears to be 15-16 when he's captured and Brosnan looks to be a man in his 50s or 60s. He'd likely be in his 80s if you really followed the timing. Second, the present story is dour and the characters aren't compelling or likeable. That's a problem. The story of a young man surviving with the Indians would be interesting, but it didn't get enough time in the first two hours. This series ends up being just OK, which likely isn't good enough to draw big crowds on a Saturday night.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-

Streaming Series:
Dimension 404, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered April 4)
About: This is Hulu's answer to "Black Mirror," or at least it wants to be. It's some kind of combination of "Black Mirror" and the "Twilight Zone," played more for sci-fi camp than posing serious questions about technology. It's set in an alternate dimension, and it uses technology as a jumping off point. But it's more about thrills and scares than about pointed social commentary. The first episode was a take off on dating apps and the second was a veiled shot at big chain theaters and the latest digital technology. It boasts a strong cast, with Patton Oswalt, Sarah Hyland, Lea Michelle, and Joel McHale appearing in the first two episodes. Three episodes were released last Tuesday with additional episodes coming in subsequent weeks. This series is fine, but if you're looking for "Black Mirror," this misses the mark.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Harlots, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered March 29)
About: This latest Hulu series is in partnership with the BBC and streams new episodes each Wednesday. The pilot premiered at the end of March, with the second episode dropping April 5. It boasts a decent cast, led by Samantha Morton, Leslie Manneville and Jessica Brown Findlay from "Downton Abbey." It is centered on harlots trying to make a living in 18th Century England. The first episode laid out the key players and the world, but I didn't find it overly compelling. The second episode was more of the same. The characters and central conflicts aren't developed enough, and the series can't decide if it wants to be serious or salacious. It does a combo of both, and neither works well. I like the actors, but I don't care for the material. This feels like a project that aims to be edgy to hook viewers and simply misses the mark.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

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