Posts Tagged ‘TV season’

Every year the fall TV season becomes slightly less important, as summer series, cable programming and online services chip away at the once-Herculean dynasty that is broadcast television.

If you’re like me, you’ve been too busy watching Married, You’re the Worst and The Strain to be overly concerned with the new slate of Big Four shows that will, in large number, not survive long enough to see the calendar turn on 2015. But alas, here we are, networks at the door, advertisers in the wings, ready to fall in love and hate all over again.

As a refresher, we at Wood’s Stock (read: me) will be watching all the new shows and our (my) returning favorites and each week we will issue a letter grade based on the quality of the premiere and a rating of either “Subscribe,” “Keep an Eye On,” or “Kill and Bury” based on the outlook for the new season.

Let’s begin.

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A to Z (NBC)

Technically A to Z hasn’t premiered yet but the pilot has been available online for more than a month and I’ll take every chance I get to stay ahead of the unyielding tide of new premieres.

Andrew works at a highly successful online dating website and believes in love and destiny. He meets the more cynical Zelda and is immediately smitten, asking her out to drinks only to blow it by suggesting they were fated to meet each other after a chance passing at a concert years earlier. Zelda is overwhelmed by this, states emphatically that it was not she at the concert and then after a brief separation the pair are reunited by the end of the episode to establish the premise of the show, in which we see the evolution of their relationship from beginning to end, ominously predicted to arrive sometime at the end of the 1st season by voice over narration (the inevitable fact that the “end” won’t be an “end” makes the framing device all the more obnoxious).

If the archetypes sounds similar to (500) Days of Summer it’s because they are, as are many of the other elements of the show to the general tone, in which a whimsical narrator coos about opposites attracting while dulcet tones play.

It’s a little thin, but not without potential. The shows stars, Mad Men’s Ben Feldman and HIMYM’s Cristin Milioti, are likable in spades and if the writers can begin loosening the reigns on structure and let the funny come in there’s a chance A to Z could turn out to be one of the season’s pleasant surprises.

Grade: B-

Class: Keep an Eye On

red-band-society-review_article_story_largeRed Band Society (Fox)

That Fox is teeing up RBS as its next Glee is apparent, even while great pains have gone into crafting an original and interesting show. Set in a children’s ward of an implausibly beautiful hospital, Red Band Society focuses on a group of children suffering from a range of physical ailments. It’s a grimm subtext, made all the more apparent by the omniscient and potentially supernatural narrator, but it’s also awash in bright cinematic colors to keep things from getting overly dreary.

The adult cast is superb (particularly Octavia Spencer), and used well throughout the pilot, but the children who make up the show’s core range from cloying saccharine caricatures to aggressively off-putting annoyances. The production quality is highly cinematic, making it one of the best looking pilots I’ve seen in years, but the final product is a tonal quagmire with a vague target audience.

Grade: B

Class: Keep an Eye On

lauraThe Mysteries of Laura (NBC)

Where to begin. Mysteries of Laura is what happens when you take a sitcom about an exhausted single mother and fuse it with the rotted carcass of whatever hour-long police drama that failed during last year’s TV season. It stars Debra Messing as what is intended to be a charmingly sloppy New York Detective who plays by her own rules, taking down bad guys before running home to extinguish the likely literal fires lit by her two hyperactive spawn.

Problem is, it fails as a crime procedural, fails as a family comedy, fails as a workplace comedy and just fails, fails, fails.

The tonal shifts in the pilot alone are enough to give you whiplash, playing blood-drenched walls as a sight gag and cracking wise about death and murder before halting the plot for a heart to heart about love and parenting with the ex, Josh Lucas, who is shoehorned into the plot in a groan-inducing 11th hour twist in order to maintain relevance for the character. Also, the native advertising for Target hasn’t been this egregious since that Christmas episode of Modern Family.

Everyone in this show, as well as the audience, deserves better.

Grade: C-

Class: Kill and Bury

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New Girl (Fox)

New Girl took a bit of a stumble during its 3rd season. I was never particularly interested in seeing Nick and Jess as a couple and it became pretty clear after a few episodes, and maybe during that initial horror of a premiere in season 3 when the pair ran off to Mexico, that the writers had run out of ideas for the relationship, instead electing to kick it to an early death by the time the final episode aired.

What makes the fourth season’s premiere so brilliant is that it is not trying to be a grand arrival but instead accepts the show as being several years into a sitcom about a group of misfit friends. It ships our characters off to a wedding where they can stumble into comedic pratfalls and shenanigans that are cozily wrapped up in 22 minutes. If you didn’t know any better, the episode could have been the 1st, 5th, 15th or even last of the season.

And that’s ok. It’s more than ok, it was pretty great. Also, “hooves.”

Grade: A-

Class: Keep an Eye On

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