TV Premieres Roundup
I was away in London for Premiere Week, so I missed most of the new shows and have only begun to play catch-up on my DVR. Here are my impressions of all the new shows – I’ll leave the veterans out of the discussion just for brevity’s sake:
Supergirl. Just aired this week, so I won’t give anything away, but the pilot was formulaic and problematic in a number of ways (including an assistant bored by the job and a kidnapping that looks idiotic plot-wise but made sense given its only purpose was exposition to set up the procedural element of the series). Most of the characters introduced had just enough there to see some good potential, including Calista Flockhart’s bitchy boss and the guy playing James Olsen. And if adorkable is still a thing, Melissa Benoit certainly is trying for that vibe, but is not quite there (more the earnest idealist type we all met in college). There’s an unexpected plot-twist at the end, too. So no real surprises, doesn’t have quite the nerdy fun of The Flash, but I can see why CBS wanted to go off-brand by picking this up. As long as I have room on my DVR, I’ll keep watching.
Limitless. I don’t like continuations of movies in general. I think it can be executed lazily, simply to capitalize on “brand awareness.” I watched half of the original movie and gave up because it was so boring. So I didn’t expect to like this show. But it’s growing on me with its interesting, visual way of showing just how smart the protagonist is while on the NZT drug. Some of the ongoing storylines allow an interesting connection to the original movie, including recurring use of Bradley Cooper’s character, while neither smothering you with it (Gotham!) or making it seem unnecessary.
Minority Report. On the other hand, this show tries desperately to keep the precognitive element of the movie intact, even forcing the premise of the movie (that thought crimes are unfair and an abuse of government power) to be turned on its head when the two protagonists insist on continuing to use that outlawed technology. Add to that some formulaic plot points and a hard-to-believe twist involving the sister, and it makes the show a bit too much. That said, I may be in the “minority” here when I think the two leads have enough chemistry to make the buddy cop element work. The show is de facto cancelled already, so that’s one future we don’t need a vision for.
Blindspot. This is basically The Blacklist except without James Spader and the list of bad guys to go after is generated through increasingly contrived ways of interpreting the multitude of tattoos on Jane’s body. Yet, some plot elements and acting choices elevate what could have felt too much like a cloned show. It’s still a little early, so I’ll let some nagging questions I have go unanswered as I continue to keep up with this.
Quantico. They so easily could have turned this show into another Blacklist clone by keeping the focus on the post-attack period and tracking people down one by one. Instead, the narrative threads feel almost like Once Upon A Time, where we learn important information in both time periods as they advance separate story lines. My biggest complaint so far is having to believe that the FBI could recruit so many people into a single class of recruits and teachers that keep so many potentially devastating secrets – to the point where I don’t know if there is anyone we can trust, even the protagonist. But then, that might be the point of the drama, right? Still, hard to suspend disbelief about that.
The Muppets. Strip away the nostalgia and/or novelty of having the puppet gang back on television, with only a slightly updated premise of them putting on a late-night show starring Miss Piggy. What do you get after doing that? Yet another single-camera mockumentary sitcom like The Office. It’s not a bad show, just as the recent movie wasn’t bad, per se. It’s just that the reboot movie with Jason Segel tug on the heartstrings of nostalgia when breaking down the fourth wall. This effort tries to slip into prime time television almost unnoticed, and I think the audience gets that and why its viewership has declined since the premiere.
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. It’s like Oprah meets Quiz Show meets Candid Camera meets a circus spectacle. My favorite part is the end-of-the-show-show since it’s usually some kind of theatre number that involves NPH doing stunts with the guests he brought in for the week. I’m sure NPH is having some of the best time in his career, but the show is a bit too wildly hyper and random at times to feel like a good time to me. Personally, I think Hollywood Game Night is better. Maybe they can let NPH host a version of HGN while Jane Lynch is over at her own CBS sitcom?
Scream Queens. Other than a few strands of plot points that hold the series together, I get the sense that the writers on this show, like on Glee, simply didn’t give a shit whether any of the episodes made sense, so long as they got their zingers and their killer moments in. But I’ll give them this – that lead Emma Roberts can play a nasty bitch well and the producers have a knack for finding celebrity cameos. But like with Glee and some of their other shows, being funny for the sake of being funny doesn’t work in the hour-long format, whether or not you call this a satire. I was not all that impressed with Scream, a smarter albeit more serious take of the genre, but it was certainly better than this has been. Like the Muppets, I think a one-night, two-hour event kind of thing would have been a better way to execute this idea.
Truth Be Told. Dated material, crass adult humor, and not all that good. But the two male leads have been funny in other things, and definitely have a chemistry that works – you can almost believe they really are buddies. That said, and I know it’s early, but even if the ratings weren’t in the crapper I don’t expect to keep watching this.
Heroes Reborn. In many ways, this feels less like the continuation/reboots on offer elsewhere and more like what the creators of the original show might have intended all along. They once said their plan after season 1 of the original Heroes was for new seasons to bring on mostly new cast who rise to face a new threat with minimal baggage and plot holes carried over from the previous seasons. But that original cast proved too popular – keeping them on while periodically shuffling the hero/villain decks proved unsustainable. This show carries the same tone, pacing, and a familiar intriguing set of mysteries being solved. And like Season 1 of the original, it has a catch phrase; this time it’s “forget the past, save the future.” Unfortunately, the original Heroes was original and aired before Marvel ignited a superhero craze (although you could also argue that shows like this helped pave the way for Marvel). So this continuation feels less special, and the ratings reflect that. Still, I’m going to give it a shot and see where it goes.
There were a number of other shows I could have watched this fall, but either opted not to because I didn’t like the premise or my DVR limit forced me to choose and they didn’t make the cut.