Spring TV Roundup, Week 7
We're into May and approaching graduation. Summer is coming. Until then, we have the last new shows of Spring. 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.
Genius, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (Premiered April 25)
About: This is a new docudrama about Albert Einstein. I thought the pilot, which split time between the famous adult Einstein (Geoffrey Rush) and the collegiate Einstein (Johnny Flynn) was a little dry. The second episode locked in solely on Flynn's version of the famous professor, showing how he lived and loved and learned as a young man in Europe. It was equally as dull. Einstein is one of the most famous and important people in history, and the idea of a docudrama is a strong one. But the series doesn't have a strong narrative flow, making it difficult to see where this is going. Storylines and threads from the pilot were completely dropped in episode two, and it's unclear when they'll be picked back up. There are some good performances here, but overall the show misses the mark.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
American Gods, Sundays at 9 p.m. on Starz (Premiered April 30)
About: Starz biggest new series of the year, "American Gods," premiered on April 30. The series comes from showrunner Bryan Fuller, and is based on the novel from Neil Gaiman that was deemed "unfilmable" by some. Fuller has had a long and varied career on TV, but all his shows have had a fascinating visual style. Whether they were more whimsical features, such as "Wonderfalls" or "Pushing Daisies," or darker fare like NBC's short-lived "Hannibal." That same visual style is on full display in "American Gods," and is likely in service of the dense plot from the book. But, if like me, you've never read the book, the show might be more than a little confusing. Each of the first two episodes began with historical scenes that weren't obviously tied to the main plot but were exceedingly violent. And the rest of the main plot introduced Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), an ex-con who is recruited by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and pulled into his world. This series has a great cast (the second episode included Gillian Anderson as Lucille Ball and Cloris Leachman), and a fascinating visual style. But its story is weird and hard to follow. In addition, as is common with Starz programming, there is a high level of sex and violence that might be difficult for many viewers to sit through. This is one of the most high profile new shows of the Spring, but also the most confounding. I love Fuller's visual style, I just wish it were in service of a better series here.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-