It’s 2048, and crime is rampant. Because of this, all police officers are partnered with a crime-fighting android. If you don’t know this much, you haven’t watched a FOX-owned network in the last month.
In the first minutes, we see protagonist Detective John Kennex get his leg blown off in a raid that left everyone else dead. Fast forward two years, which Kennex spent in a coma. He’s back on the force. His dislike of androids–and some lawbreaking on his own part–prompt him to “kill” his partner. He finds a replacement. But instead of a modern android (They’re all out, I guess?) his new partner is a model that has been discontinued for being too human. Yeah, the set up is nice and contrived. Skip the pilot, and just swallow the fact that it’s a buddy cop piece set in the future, about a gruff PTSD victim and a robot with a soul.
Best Aspect: The world is richly drawn. The art design is great. This version of the future is well considered. The sky teems with drones, and programmable DNA can be weaponized, but cars still have wheels.
Worst Aspect: The tone strays cheesy from time to time.
Verdict: It’s been a while since I’ve had an above average sci-fi on my watchlist. This definitely seems like the best candidate available.
Odds of Success: Everyone who used to watch Fringe should slide immediately into the audience of Almost Human. It’s a J.J. Abrams production with a budget. It’ll at least get a fair shot. There’s plenty of fertile story soil here for years of episodes. Oh, and it’s partnered with Sleepy Hollow, so there’s that.
Mondays @ 8 on FOX
The Originals (CW)
Hot vamps and werewolves.
If you’re not sick of them yet,
Here’s some more. Decent.
Tomorrow People (CW)
Standard C-Dub fare.
Beautiful, super skilled “teens”.
X-men, Smallville style.
Lucky 7 (ABC)
Bounces, person to person.
I bounced too. Early.
Super Fun Night (ABC)
Star vehicle tries
too hard. Even the writing
chews the scenery
Masters of Sex (Showtime)
A period piece
About early sex studies.
Added to watchlist.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Andy Samberg good.
Andre Braugher better still.
So far I love it.
American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
(Is this a pilot?)
This time, world explained up front.
Witches was good choice.
The Blacklist (NBC)
Silence of the Lambs
Meets Taken meets Alias.
Sean Hayes’s character is a gay single dad who runs an office for an online retail company. The promise here is half work comedy, half family comedy, with Hayes at the middle of both. At home, Sean is struggling to raise his 14-year-old daughter, with the help and/or interference of his controlling mother. Two co-workers seem to be regular cast members on the work side, with the cast rounded out by Tom Lennon (from The State), who is fantastic as the company’s owner whom nobody likes.
The overall effect here is solid, buoyed largely by the writing. I’ve watched two episodes. While I have never seen anything in which I’ve liked Sean Hayes, he surprised me with the gravitas and likability needed to hold down a show like this. Meanwhile, so far Tom Lennon is bringing easily my favorite comedic character of the new season.
Best Aspect: Oddly enough, the art design. The sets go a long way in ensuring that the overall feel here is like Just Shoot Me or Newsroom. Like them, if not the funniest thing you’ve ever seen, this at least seems like a solid comedy with decent writing and execution.
Worst Aspect: There were a number of lame jokes in the pilot, sprinkled among what is otherwise pretty sharp writing. (It got better in episode two.)
Verdict: I’ll give it a chance. It could mature into something worthwhile.
Odds of Success: This is a good show, but not great. Thursdays are competitive. NBC has taken a family show tact, with Sean Saves the World as its anchor. They probably have more family comedies in reserve, in case others drop, but it would definitely help Sean if it’s hourmate, The Michael J. Fox Show, could find its legs.
Thursdays @ 9:00 on NBC
Will Arnett plays a local news reporter. When he tells his parents that he got divorced, his simpleton father leaves his penny-pinching mother. Mom moves in with him (for some reason) and Dad goes over to his sister’s house (for some reason.) Why neither of them takes their house is not really clear.
The whole pilot was almost entirely set-up, without a lot of plot. It’s hard to say if this will eventually be funny, because it seems like it’s just getting going. But, unfortunately, so far it’s not landing.
Best Aspect: There are a lot of talented actors trying really hard to make this work
Worst Aspect: Greg Garcia’s writing doesn’t mesh with a laugh track.
Verdict: No thanks. I’ll go watch My Name Is Earl repeats.
Odds of Success: It’s a decent match with CBS’s Thursday night (Big Bang Theory, The Crazy Ones, Two and a Half Men) and as the 8:30 show, it only has to keep people around till the later shows. The bar here isn’t super high. I’ll guess it manages numbers good enough to keep from getting immediately canceled, but they’d better find a groove before mid-season.
Thursdays @ 8:30 on CBS
James Caan plays a crusty retired pro baseball player, “The Cannon.” Terry, his daughter, was a star player in college, and now she’s the single mom to a wimpy kid with zero baseball talent. (Despite never wanting anything to do with baseball again… because of her dad neglecting her in her childhood… BEFORE she played in college. Whatever. The logic of the set-up isn’t the problem.) She winds up volunteering to coach her son and all the other kids who don’t make first string. (Eh? She’s back in the GAME! Get it?!)
The whole thing is too pat. The humor falls flat. It’s Bad News Bears with a lady coach, except (so far) these kids don’t get the chance to be clever misfits. Meh.
Best aspect: The rivalry with the opposing coach.
Worst aspect: Overall lack of sharpness.
Verdict: I’m not interested.
Odds of success: Female sitcoms are the rage. Dysfunctional families are working on ABC. Still… ABC pretty much hooks my wife with every show, and she had checked out in less than a minute.
Wednesdays @ 8 on ABC
I wanted to love this pilot. It was just ‘meh.’
There’s this amazingly advanced and uber-secret government agency, and there’s this woman who can easily hack all their tech from her van. They butt heads for the whole episode, but by the end she’s offered membership. OK, I should have warned you on spoilers there, but honestly anyone who’s ever seen a sci-fi team assemble knew that was going to happen from minute one.
They’re all trying to stop this super sympathizable Average Joe who’s dealing with his version of the plot device from Iron Man 3. And you completely know how that will play out, too.
And then there’s a car.
But–and this is the saving grace–Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s boilerplate story was wrapped in Whedonesque throwaway banter, almost enough to redeem anything.
Best aspect: Seeing J. August Richards or Ron Glass on screen again. OK, I’m a nerd. I also really liked the simultaneously theorizing science Brits.
Worst aspect: Proximity to the movies without much of what makes the movies.
Verdict: Grr. Argh. Joss Whedon has earned my love to a degree that I will stick with anything he ever makes, to the end. (So it doesn’t help much if I tell you I will tune in next week, because I was going to do so before watching the pilot, anyway.)
Odds of Success: Medium-high. The money factory that is Disney-Marvel-ABC have every reason to keep this on the air as long as it’s at least a medium hit. (And opening numbers were big.) Some of the same smarties who created a franchise of superhero movies by teasing each at the end of the last will be involved in keeping this show alive, so that it, too can tease new movies. And Whedon can deliver amazing stories, given time to let characters grow. He and team will just need the chance to develop a new universe that’s interesting by itself.
Tuesdays @ 8 on ABC
Malin Ackerman plays Kate, a party-girl turned insta-mom when she becomes the third wife of Bradley Whitford’s Pete. Kate’s perky refusal to go insane as she inherits his two previous families wins us over, and there’s a lot going for this cast. Kudos to this pilot for zipping us right through the set-up to the realization of the premise.
Comparisons to Modern Family are inevitable. No doubt this show will feature similar storylines exploring the individual relationships inside an extended family. However, we can expect the titular character to be at the center of it all, and this should be a family comedy not quite like anything we’ve seen before.
Best aspect: The two diametrically opposed and strongly drawn ex-wives should make excellent foils.
Worst aspect: The tone threatens to skew wacky in a few places. I hate wacky.
Verdict: I could take it or leave it. But my wife is totally on board. (ABC knows how to hook her, and hard.) So the show likely ends up on our mutual watchlist.
Odds of success: This is the most fun of the four new sitcoms I’ve seen so far this season. Since I like it, it will probably die.
Tuesdays @ 9:30 on ABC
This is Adam Goldberg’s autobiographical retelling of his 1980s childhood, with Patton Oswald invoking The Wonder Years to blast us with nostalgia. I admit, at one point I pointed at the TV and said, “Hey, I had one of those rabbit’s foot keychains!” But that was pretty much the highlight.
George Segal’s grandpa offers some emotion that is probably the strength of the pilot. However, Jeff Garlin is relegated to overstressed blustering, and Wendi McLendon-Covey’s overbearing is something those of us who didn’t have Jewish mothers will struggle to find funny.
At the end of the day, I left the half hour as if I’d stayed over at a friend’s house, and the friend’s family spent the whole time fighting in front of me. I liked this premise a lot better as Everybody Hates Chris.
Best aspect: I mean, I remember the 80s, I guess.
Worst aspect: Volume in the place of humor.
Verdict: I’m out.
Odds of success: ABC seems to be throwing all it’s comedy in the dysfunctional family basket. So maybe that makes this show a fit. Still, unless this family quickly gets finds more tenderness to balance out the bickering, I can’t see lasting The Goldbergs lasting into midseason.
In this latest submission from writer/producer David E. Kelly, Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are father-daughter heads of an advertising agency, struggling to keep from losing their biggest account–McDonald’s as it happens. Imagine the soft lighting and wacky quasi-humor of Allie MacBeal or The Practice, and you’re pretty much there, but give the story only 20 minutes to unfold.
The Crazy Ones is intriguing on many fronts. Robin Williams returning to television after decades? Sarah Michelle Gellar doing non-drama television? David E. Kelly offering a half-hour show? CBS doing a one-camera comedy?
Unfortunately, my interest faded pretty quickly. David E. Kelly has ever danced the line between comedy and drama, but normally it’s light comedy offered inside a drama. That balance flipped around here, he’s less successful. (Comedy is HARD, people!) You feel the show very much trying to be funny, but never quite landing.
Some of that is writing. Some is casting. Sarah Michelle Gellar is a bit one-note and hasn’t found a natural comedy groove yet. (Sorry! I love you, Buffy.) Meanwhile, after watching this show and his Daily Show interview, Robin Williams’s eyes seem to lack focus. Sober and aged, he doesn’t have the fire to reach into his limited bag of go-to characters in a funny way, a la his coked-up 70s stand up. (Sorry! I love you, Dr. Maguire! O Captain My Captain!) I don’t mean to be harsh, because I think the guy is world-class, but I feel like he’ll need to reinvent himself to make this show fly.
Best Aspect: The hint that William’s character might be a bit of a has-been, and that perhaps he should hand the reins over to his persnickety daughter.
Worst Aspect: A scene with Kelly Clarkson masochistically demanding that Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character sing in public to win her participation? The plot might have needed that, but it strained believability and left me cringing.
Verdict: Though I was curious, as someone who works in advertising, I don’t see myself tuning in again.
Odds of success: Long-term? Small. I’m guessing the strong opening numbers indicate that many, like me, were curious. (Plus the Big Bang Theory lead-in didn’t hurt, but they lose that once The Millers takes 8:30.) Curiosity fade fast, unless the team finds a way to get frenetic enough to deliver several story lines in a half-hour wrapper. HOWEVER… when entire minutes of a show can be veritable commercials, big sponsor dollars will be pretty available. (There’s a reason the Mad Men ad men are continuously pitching new clients…) This might buy the show time to find its legs.
Thursdays @ 9 on CBS