TV Premiere Monday: Fall 2017
I am not going to be overly ambitious with my commentary on TV shows this fall season, just because I have other things I need to be doing. But here is my take on the new shows that premiered on September 25, 2017:
Young Sheldon: I am torn on this one. On the one hand, its prequel premise gives me pause, since there is a limit to the character growth and backstory possible, and the drama/comedy balance is way different than the mothership series. So would I still like it absent it being a prequel? I don’t know. Some of the extra little touches the writers did in the pilot were nice nods to the mothership (including a glimpse at the chicken Sheldon feared as a kid), but might not have landed with the same impact as a new character. That said, I already like this show in some ways more than Big Bang, so it’s on my DVR list. Provisionally.
Me, Myself, and I: While Young Sheldon takes place entirely in the 1980s, only the teenage scenes of this complicated show are set in the past. I think the 3 different versions of the main character is a degree of difficulty too much; heck, I tried writing something similar back in my aborted attempt at screenwriting and was told just having flashbacks was going to be difficult. That said, I like some of the actors and acting, and it’d be interesting to see what the writers come up for each of the story beats in future episodes. It’s too early to tell if it joins my DVR, but I will watch the second episode.
The Brave: It’s methodical, almost technical, pacing was boring. I checked out at a commercial break around the 20 minute mark. Up to that point, the action was slow enough that it was knawing at me that we had very little in the way of character building and certainly no reason to care about the doctor that needed rescuing. Sure, some of the actors I’ve liked in other things, and it came across as trying to be faithful to the line of work they were portraying, but it just wasn’t worth it.
The Good Doctor: Oh my forking God. This medical drama, a genre I don’t normally like, was soooo good. Dr. Shaun Murphy (by the way, a coworker has the same name) is a young autistic savant who is training to be a surgeon. His story is told partly in flashbacks to his childhood with a violent father and a protective younger brother. His mentor spends most of the hour begging his hospital to hire the kid, while the rest of the time is spent showing how Murphy and the other surgeons work to save an 8 year old’s life. I can’t say I relate to any of this, but by the half-way mark I was already near tears in anticipating the tragic stories that were bound to follow, and then was greatly relieved when the hour ended in the way we all would expect. I don’t know how this show got me to connect so quickly with it, but I am hooked. Legitimately.
The following shows premiered before Monday, so I will just write my review here:
The Orville: If you wanted Star Trek’s Original Series social commentary with TNG’s aesthetic and optimism, with pop cultural references that were more relevant to today’s sensibilities, you’ve got it in spades with this show. Others have reviewed this show better than I can, for all its good and bad qualities. I don’t think it is as good a satire as it could be or as strong an homage as some die-hards want, but it is a definite welcome addition to the sci-fi genre that has become too consumed with dark and gritty and/or superheroes for my taste. After seeing 3 episodes, I actually think this show might be getting better – even if its ability to land a punchline is still more miss than hit. So I will keep watching.
Star Trek Discovery: If you want something that is official Trek but doesn’t quite feel like yesterday’s Trek – in other words, pretty much the opposite of The Orville – then this show is for you. There is enough Trek here to see what they are going for, with enough abuses to canon to make my inner fanboy scream incessantly. The first two episodes are engaging and present a new take on the Klingons that is not nearly as a big departure from the old canon as die-hards are whining about. But the idea that a human raised by Vulcans could spend a few years on a starship and let her emotions get the best of her to the point of mutiny is a bit of a stretch even for me. All that said, those first 2 episodes were just the prologue for the remaining 13 episodes of the season, though, so I’m going to give this show a shot, even though I’m not happy with CBS making us pay at least $6 a month for it on a crappy streaming service app.