As children of the 90s, it’s funny how uncomfortable we are with the idea of competition and people losing (that whole “everybody’s a winner” thing didn’t exist during my formative years). We watch a LOT of television because it allows us a certain amount of control (though, to clarify, we don’t really wield any control at all, living in the subcontinent and without a Nielson box, so… yeah), but television has become very malleable to the demands of its audiences. So when it’s awards season there’s this sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach that doesn’t go away until the SAGs have aired. The only awards’ show that’s still enjoyable is the Tony’s because let’s face it, there’s not much emotional investment, they’re fun, but most importantly, almost nobody on our social media circles cribs about who won.
So there won’t be a review of the Emmy’s although this must be said: no matter who ends up winning, there’s at least one person in that category who deserved it just as much. Also pretty certain Amy Poehler and Jon Hamm are likely never to win awards when they so clearly deserve to, so yeah, awards season sucks. Why don’t we give all those nominated an award for participation and let them make their speeches? But onto more pressing concerns, like pilot season!
I’ve stopped watching pilots of hour long shows. The investment just really isn’t worth the rewards anymore. None of the premises of the shows this year have piqued any interest in me at all. I checked out The Mob Doctor solely because of the goodwill I feel towards Zach Gilford and Jordan Shapiro, but all that went out of the window (to use a cliche) when Shapiro explained to the kid how she became impregnated by using a Star Wars’ reference (MP: haha, I forgot about that part — this show was DOA. I’d be surprised it gets picked up at all).
Emily Owens M.D.
The general goodwill for Gummer (after her brilliant performance in CBS’ The Good Wife) forced us to check out Emily Owens, M.D., the medical drama airing on Tuesday nights on The CW. (MP: It’s Grey’s Anatomy lite) The success of Grey’s Anatomy has made medical soaps a sure thing on TV now although she’s (MP: arguably. Arguably! I think the show’s gotten better once it’s moved past the “let’s play sexy musical chairs” phase) the only one who can actually make it work, after eight seasons. Sure there’ve been a few missteps along the way (the Izzie-Denny-tumor sex storyline for instance), but she still manages to elicit emotional reactions of out people. Emily Owens M.D. doesn’t even merit a “meh” from us. What the show lacks the most is production values — medical dramas need the “drama” because without it, there’s no emotional investment. Grey’s powers through with great acting, music that fits each scene like a glove and flaws that may seem melodramatic but are weighted human emotions. Emily Owen, M.D.’s highest stake storyline involves a mom with terminal cancer but pales in comparison to Grey’s Alzheimer storyline. Yes, a degenerative neuro disease carried more weight because it did such an amazing job of showing how it shaped Meredith and how just when she felt she had done it all to get her mother’s approval it’s all lost, and that loss will always have a greater impact than whatever Emily Owens has spun for “Guy Emily will EVENTUALLLY end up with” (no need to learn names). Even Emily’s proclamation had nothing on Lexie’s proclamation to Mark Sloane (no, we won’t compare it to “Pick Me! Choose Me! Love Me!” nothing will ever compare to that), really there’s just no weight to any of it all all. I’m sorry Gummer, I wish you’d get better work already.
Arrow shows some promise as a show on CW, but not much else for now. The disguise/mask is terrible, it’s just green glitter make up, but it certainly has potential to ramp up any time the show runners decide to quit faking it the Nolan way and just embrace it. Since I have only seen the pilot, and it did have an interesting twist maybe it has improved since (I haven’t read the comics so I’m not familiar with how closely they are following those story lines).
MP: I disagree with the above. I’m a huge fan of the show — it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not and the episodes set up some great questions that are answered in the episodes that follow. All in all, I liked the darker tone better than Smallville and I’m a huge fan of the pacing. Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti are behind this show so I have hope. The show’s built up from the Arrow: Year One comics (similar to Nolan and his fixation on Batman Year One). It’s a reimagining of the comics and I’m completely on board. I was a little concerned with Will Amell’s slightly wooden acting but he’s been great in the flashback scenes which kinda makes you wonder what the fuck happened to make him become what he is. It’s subtle but I like it. For me, it all started from the pilot and though I’ve been slightly frustrated with all the CW shows’ voice overs, there is reason to believe the V.O.s will end in the near future for Arrow, at least. Emily Owens, M.D. will still suffer through.
Beauty & The Beast
While Arrow has potential, Beauty and the Beast was just god-awful (it may be the idea of Lana Lang… sorry Kristin Kreuk with that porcelain white skin of hers being a tough cop; I like her partner though. And for the love of all holy things, have female cops wear sensible shoes. Come on!). Completely humourless and charmless, the actors drain everybody’s energy and invoked no interest at all in me about the mysterious murders of scientists who experimented to create super-humans. That’s all that needs to be said of that show, makes me sad that The Secret Circle made way for this, just when it started showing us what it could be. (MP: I’d argue that the show was confused from the beginning and by the time it got its act together, it was too late).
Next, find out TMS Editor Maryam Piracha’s picks for the Fall 2012-13 season.
The critics have been split on this one strangely, drawing contrasts to the network’s other quirky ensemble comedy, Community especially after its return was pushed back. I’m enjoying it though I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of Perry’s assistant who appeared previously on the network drama Kings, one of the high-concept shows you know aren’t built to last on primetime television. Anyway, Go On follows a grief counseling group, each of which has lost someone important to them. Matthew Perry’s back on TV, in comedy, winningly playing a widower with a bitter, tough-nut exterior but with his heart in the right place. The pilot was engaging, funny and I’ve stuck with the show. It’s becoming a staple. Though perhaps not as amazing as Cougar Town, New Girl or Raising Hope, it is quirky and engaging.
When I first heard about this show: cop-show set in 60’s Vegas before the city became the gambling haven of today, my reaction was “huh?”. I thought Dennis Quaid must’ve hit a career low when he agreed to do the show, but it’s a gem. With the killer cast (Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Jason O’Mara and Carrie Anne Moss among others) and engaging personal conflicts between the Chicago mob’s Sorvino (Chiklis) and tough cop (Quaid), there’s something here. I’m watching until I’m given a reason not to. Pure character-driven drama.
666 Park Ave
The trailer for this show wasn’t helpful or particularly engaging. It was just weird. But because I decided to do a full pilot run, I checked it out. The pilot was engaging, the idea that 999 Park Avenue is actually the home of the devil (666) who lives there with his wife, offers people the good life in exchange for their soul, isn’t a new concept. But somehow the actors (Brothers & Sisters’ Dave Annabelle, Grey’s Anatomy’s, Lost’s Terry O’Quinn and most recently former Desperate Housewife Vanessa Williams) kinda make it work. It’s a decent time pass for me but isn’t a staple, so if nothing else is on and I’m desperate for some brain sucking activity, I’ll consider this. It’s not a pure supernatural show as in not a lot of demons and stuff (from what I’ve seen) but the idea is sinister foes lurk in the shadows. If cloaks and daggers are your thing, you’ll like this show.
Mrs. Coach (Connie Britton of Friday Night Lights) is back on real television after the frightening turn in American Horror Story and my goodness, what a fantastic return it is. ABC’s making the mistake of promoting this show as a country soap but it’s so far from that it’s laughable. This is a smartly written (the script comes from Thelma and Louise scribe Callie Khouri) drama with great acting from Britton, Eric Close, Hayden Panettiere (in her first major role after Heroes), and newcomers, with its heart rooted in career, relationships and family. It reminds me more of The Good Wife than a country music driven Desperate Housewives. The show’s shot on location in the heart of the country music scene in Nashville, TN. The pilot sets up a nice career mirror for established country music artist Rayna James (Britton) and newcomer Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) who’s the young kid on the block versus the fading glory of Rayna. To say the two don’t get along is obvious but Rayna doesn’t view Barnes as a threat, musically and Barnes is trying to create her own image as a talented musician versus a sex symbol. Throw in Rayna’s lead guitarist, Deacon being poached by Barnes in an attempt to enhance her career as a serious musician and you have some good drama, not to mention an unwitting love triangle with a very married Rayna. There’s also a little bit of a parallel story going between Deacon’s niece (Clare Bowen), the talented young songwriter and bartender at The Bluebird Cafe who doesn’t realize her own potential and her “writing partner” who’s been harboring a crush for her for three years, but she’s oblivious. The relationships, in less experienced hands, would border on soap territory but Khouri gets the best out of the characters so there’s no black or white, there’s a ton of gray and you don’t really hate anyone. I think that’s instrumental that each character is beautifully flawed and human. I’m keeping this show. It’s also got great music and unlike Glee, where each character just bursts into song from time to time, live music is used more poignantly. If you saw the last five minutes of the pilot and didn’t fall in love, I’d be very surprised. It’s an evolving story and like much of life’s great stories it can be heartwarming and heartbreaking but you keep chugging along.
Pakistan. It’s everywhere lately. When I saw the trailer of this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, like Vegas, it hooked me straight from the pilot. Make no mistake: this is a conspiracy-driven show and pieces of it are going to come out slowly but what I like best of all is that the characters are strong, smart individuals who know their people. Each of them, good or bad. But it shouldn’t surprise me: this is a Shawn Ryan show and he’s done nothing but good TV (FX’s The Shield and Terriers, Fox’s The Chicago Code and served as the showrunner for the second season of Lie to Me). If you haven’t seen the trailer, the series revolves around a submarine crew who, when called upon to nuke Pakistan for no real reason refused and so, of course, the captain and his crew are now being called traitors to the detriment of the family they’ve left behind. I don’t want to say too much if you haven’t seen the pilot but the plot thickens when they realize things aren’t really right in D.C.
That’s it for the pilot reviews. What about you? What’re you keeping on your radar? Sound off in the comments below!
Shazia is part bionic, part crazy (parts not mutually exclusive), and would be happy conversing solely in TV quotes, forever hopeful she’ll be one-upped in her obscure TV references. She blogs here and microblogs here.
“MP” is Maryam Piracha, The Missing Slate’s Editor who has a dreadful affiliation with her television set and has been known to go go on TV binges. Hot or cold, she tells it like it is and mostly appears in parenthesized italics.