TV Fall 2016: Verdicts on New Shows
In previous posts I gave you my initial impressions about new shows and the general themes and schedules of the Big 4 networks. After a month or more of binge-watching, here are my verdicts:
MacGyver – Reboots are not, as a general rule, as good as the original. However, this one has the perfect blend of action, comedy, and heart to make for an entertaining hour of a television every week. It has exceeded my expectations and is climbing my priority list.
The Good Place – has been a surprisingly good show about the afterlife. Sure, it’s humor is generally subtler than other shows, but NBC is used to that. I think it having a short season of 13 episodes helps it stay fresh (and increase its odds of coming back). Kristen Bell’s bad girl trying to earn her place is definitely a must-see.
The Great Indoors – not nearly as bad as it could be, I am having a very hard time believing that anyone under 45, in 2016, would be so clueless about technology and the Internet as Joel McHale’s character is portrayed as being. I don’t care if you’re a thrill-seeking adventurer and outdoorsman, you probably have noticed how things like magazine publishing, drinking in a bar and dating have changed since smartphones were invented. Unfortunately, his cluelessness is the premise for the clash of the generations clash the show is based on. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried a “you kids need to get off my lawn!” screed yet. But set all that aside, and some of the jokes are great – they just need to sharpen the contrast between the younger characters a little more to allow for more drama between them.
No Tomorrow – this sunny, optimistic dramedy about the apocalypse has been great to watch. Almost makes me want to create an apocalyst myself, to inspire me to get more stuff done and try new things.
Conviction – Hayley Atwell may be miscast here. The character’s premise is as a wild, selfish, uncouth former First Daughter stuck in a job she hates, but Hayley (and/or the writers) plays it too earnestly, too subtle, and generally too sane. That fits the actress, just not the character. I just don’t buy Hayley in that role, and that’s a problem for a show that depends on that. It’s a shame, too, because she has the class and glamor to be a great leading lady.
Notorious – Piper Perabo has been a favorite of mine, and I disagree with some of the critics who thought it was high-gloss filler. The primary flaw in this show was deciding that it had to involve a law firm and its clients of the week. Unfortunately, this was because the premise is based on a real-life professional partnership between a news producer and a lawyer. The big story of the season included the billionaire and his wife’s murder, which tends to overshadow everything else – even though it was not nearly interesting enough, and nothing else is tied to it enough to feel like the attention is justified. The show could have focused on the challenges of running a successful and influential TV show, kind of like a soapy, sexy version of The Newsroom. Or, they could have pulled a HTGAWM stunt and do a flashforward to the big murder story, and then spend the season showing how the news people broke the story piece by piece. Both ideas are better than we got, and the ratings show it.
Designated Survivor – I’ve only watched the pilot episode so far, but the rest are on my DVR. The biggest issue I had with the pilot was shoe-horning in an FBI agent that seems to have more skills and a more ambiguous role in the national security hierarchy than the geniuses of Scorpion. I also didn’t like the seemingly on-the-nose take on the President being innocently thrust into a job he never expected to have. Longer-term, I think the show is going to have a problem once they resolve the WhoDidIt and dispose of that villain – do they rinse and repeat with a new crisis? Does it become something less-intense like Madam Secretary or The West Wing?
Timeless – Also one where I only saw the pilot, but so far I like what I see from the time-traveling procedural. I’m probably going to take a weekend and binge-watch it to get caught up.
Lethal Weapon – Damon Wayans is the gem in this show that isn’t half-bad, even with a co-lead that plays the crazy role more smug than charismatic, but I had higher priorities shows airing in the same hour, so I had to drop it.
The Exorcist – The creep factor is there, but the interest isn’t. The cast is great, but the primary story was a slow-build and it just wasn’t interesting enough to keep me as a viewer.
Frequency – This was a one-and-done. Too many suspensions of disbelief over a malfunctioning ham radio, with none of the interesting historical reenactments of Timeless, or acting worth my time. I’m out.