Pilot Season (Part One)

I watch a lot of TV, like A LOT of TV, like I'm not even sure where I find the time to watch all of this TV, because when I say out loud how much TV it is that I watch I sound like a crazy person. Chances are if it's worth watching I've probably seen it. I just love TV.

One of the great challenges to any new TV season, other than trying to adequately program your DVR to tape everything, is trying to figure out what new TV shows to watch. There are always lots of new options to choose from, but you don't want to hitch your wagon to a show that's just going to end up sucking (Heroes) or to a show that's going to get canceled after a few episodes, you know, right after you decided you love this show and it should be on forever. On the flip side you don't want to NOT watch a new show, only to have all your friends telling you that you should be watching this great new show two months after it started.

So I decided that since I watch a hella lotta TV already, I'd watch as many new pilots as I could and let you kind folks know what I think is worth watching, and what I think is going to end up being a big waste of time. You know, get back to actually writing about stuff on my blog.

The Playboy Club

Despite the producers' insistence that this show isn't a Mad Men ripoff with Playboy Bunnies this sure does feel a lot like a Mad Men ripoff with Playboy Bunnies. I mean, even if you go into watching the show with an open mind and a positive attitude like I did, the first thing you're probably going to notice is how the lead character, a novice Bunny who accidentally kills a mob boss at the club, looks a little like Scarlett Johansson and sounds a lot like January Jones, and the attorney/club key holder who helps her cover the murder up looks kinda like Jon Hamm and sounds EXACTLY like Jon Hamm. I swear to God, at one point I actually thought I was watching a Danish TV show about the Playboy Club that was overdubbed in America by the cast of Mad Men.

So how's the actual show? Well it's a little too soapy and the voice-overs by Heff are lame as can be (note to producers: get rid of the voice-overs ASAP), but the show does have some potential. I mean, where else are you going to see someone frame up a medium shot on a Bunny talking in the background with a none-too-subtle giant breast taking up a fourth of the screen in the foreground? The production value is really good, the writing and dialogue aren't horrible, and all the actors seem to be having a good time, so at least it was fun to watch. The show reminds me a lot of CBS's short-lived Swingtown series, another show about sex that wasn't all that great but was still kind of fun to watch.

So is it worth watching? Too soon to tell. In my heart I want it to get better, but if I were to place money on it I'd bet against that. It has the potential to turn into a really good guilty pleasure show though.

2 Broke Girls

The biggest thing going against this show is that it's a traditional 3 camera sitcom with a laugh track, and I just don't feel like those kind of shows still have any place in the 21st Century. A live audience I can live with, because at least those people are honestly reacting to what's put in front of them, but I hate it when a show tries to tell you what's funny by superimposing a laugh over it, especially when the joke wasn't even funny to begin with.

As for the show itself, the pilot starts off a little rocky, but slowly starts to gain its footing by the end. The show is about a sarcastic waitress played by Kat Dennings who has to deal with an heiress who suddenly lost her trust fund in a Bernie Mardoff type scandal and is forced to take a waitressing gig to make ends meet. A modern day Odd Couple meets Laverne & Shirley, with just as many cliches. The saving grace of the show is that Dennings and Beth Behrs, who plays the former rich girl, really elevate the roles beyond what was written on the page and give their characters a real heart and soul. Behrs especially was a big surprise who I ended up liking a lot more than I thought I would.

Worth watching? If you're someone who doesn't mind a new show with a laugh track, I'd say yes, especially if you are already watching all the other Monday night CBS comedies that it is coupled with like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. For the most part it is really funny. As for me, I'm going to watch it for a little longer but I doubt I'm going to stick with it unless it drops a lot of the sitcom conventions that drive me nuts.

New Girl

I talked to someone else who didn't like this show because they thought it was too quirky, but that's exactly why I liked this show so much. Zooey Deschanel avoids playing the typical pixie dream girl she always plays by instead playing an exaggerated version of the pixie dream girl on steroids. She's borderline insane in the pilot episode, which makes it really fun and intriguing to try and figure out why three guys would agree to be her roommates after she tells them that after breaking up with her boyfriend she's probably going to watch Dirty Dancing 6-7 times…a day. You know, aside from the fact that she tells them that all her friends are models.

The show reminds me a lot of last year's surprise hit Happy Endings, in that both shows feel like very modern, quirky and edgy remakes of Friends. I wonder if the show is going to stay as good when Damon Wayans Jr., who is also in Happy Endings, is replaced in the second episode by a new character played by Lamorne Morris. It's a shame, because Wayans' Coach character I thought was pretty funny, and he's going to be replaced with a completely different character because Happy Endings surprisingly got renewed for a second season.

Worth watching? Totally. If you like Happy Endings I'd totally recommend you watch this as well. And if you haven't seen Happy Endings, well, their season premiere is this Wednesday after Modern Family. Check 'em both out.

Ringer

There's a lot of hype surrounding this new drama where Sarah Michelle Gellar plays identical twins, but I think that mostly has to do with the fact that everyone wants more Gellar in their lives. This show? Well, it's no Buffy, that's for sure. The first twenty minutes of the pilot were just plain awful. When the two sisters meet for the first time in years and Gellar plays opposite herself for the first time, the scene feels just as wooden as if you tried to play the scene with yourself in your living room. The timing is all off and her performance feels really flat. Then they go on a boat ride that featured some of the worst special effects I have ever seen in my life. Thankfully one of the sisters fakes her death at that point (probably because she saw how bad the special effects were) and Gellar doesn't have to act opposite herself for the rest of the episode. Let's hope these sisters rarely if ever meet in the future, for the sake of all of us.

After the first twenty minutes the show does get a lot better, and I found myself liking it a lot more. We don't really know a lot about the sister who faked her own death, and apparently there are a lot of secrets going on in her life. It's kind of fun watching the other sister try and figure out what the hell is going on while pretending to be the other.

Worth watching? I still haven't gotten around to watching the second episode yet, so I'm not really sure if this is going to end up being a good show or not. If I had to guess though? Probably not. I'd give this a pass.

Up All Night / Free Agents

These two comedies on NBC got the dubious distinction of being the first two shows of the new season to get the axe on my DVR. It's a real shame because they both have a LOT of talented people working on them. But they are both SO BORING. I think both nights I watched them I had a maximum of two laughs per episode. There's just nothing funny about them. They feel like rejected sitcoms from the mid-90's. (Need further proof? The second episode of Free Agents actually contained a Spin Doctors reference.) Super obvious jokes with punchlines telegraphed from about two miles away that just go nowhere. It's a shame they aren't that funny, because they are very charming in their own way, but they're just completely unmemorable.

Worth watching? Only if you're interested in a complete waste of time, or something to help you fall asleep at night.

Charlie's Angels

Charlie's Angels gets the award for worst writing in a freshman show. The dialogue in the remake of the hit 70's television show is amateurish and just plain bad. It's so bad it doesn't even qualify as campy bad, it's just bad bad. It feels like they're just making stuff up on the spot. Some of it is so bad that the plot of the pilot doesn't even make sense if you stop to think about what they are saying. And I tell you, as much as I love the actresses playing these new Angels, they are not talented enough to make their dialogue sound good.

You might say, well what do you expect from a remake of an old TV show? Well I'd point your attention to the remake of Hawaii 5-O, which surprised everyone by being a lot better than it had any right to be, mostly by sticking to the core concept of the show and supporting it with solid writing. Hawaii 5-O feels like your a part of a fun action/adventure story every week. Charlies Angels felt like a bunch of pretty girls playing dress up.

Worth watching? Well, I'm going to give it one more episode before I will most probably delete the season recording from my DVR. I can't imagine that it's going to get any better than this drivel.

The Secret Circle

Surprisingly, this is actually my favorite new show so far. It really kind of caught me off guard. I only even decided to watch the show in the first place because I'd seen the lead actress, Britt Robertson, in some indie movies recently and I think she's a promising new actress to watch. I don't even like witch stories, although this most recent season of True Blood did do a decent job of making me a least slightly interested in witches by being part of the first True Blood story arc that didn't suck.

The writing on the show is solid and the production values, especially in the pilot episode, are fantastic. There were points in the pilot where I felt like I was watching a movie and thought that the cinematography was literally too good to be on a TV show. It's just a fun little show.

Worth watching? If you like supernatural and/or coming of age shows then you should absolutely check The Secret Circle out.

Well, that's part one of pilot season, and there's still more pilots to watch. Hopefully you'll see a part two soon.

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One Response to Pilot Season (Part One)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m not surprised about Secret Circle – the team behind it also does The Vampire Diaries, which is a very entertaining and underrated show most weeks – and also has terrific, nearly movie quality production values (seriously, the cinematography is what initially caught my attention. So does Supernatural, for that matter, which just makes the truly horrible green screen on Ringer all the more baffling. Maybe the CW was running low on funds that week.

    Charlie’s Angels sounds like a bummer. Hopefully it gets canceled so Saint Minka can move on to better things. –Josh

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