How to Get Away with Murder is an ABC series about a law professor who hires first year students from her class to work for her in murder cases. I didn’t really expect to like this very much, but the pilot is surprisingly good. It’s fast paced, has some surprises, tells an ok case of the week story, and presents several mysteries to play out in future episodes. I have no idea how well this will all work going forward, but I’m quite interested to see where it goes from here.
Viola Davis stars as the professor, the young guy guard from Orange is the New Black is one of the students, Paris Gellar from Gilmore Girls is one of Davis’ associates, and no one else is particularly familiar. The one thing I don’t like so far is that the POV character, who apparently was in the Harry Potter movies as what I would assume was the only black guy (I didn’t know there were any), he kind of sucks. I assume he’s British and maybe his American accent is slightly off and I’m subconsciously bugged by that? I didn’t actually notice anything wrong with his accent. I just kind of want to punch him in the face for some reason.
I was a little surprised by the sex. There’s a scene clearly of Viola Davis receiving oral sex from a dude, and another of two dudes where they’re kissing in bed and one is like “turn over,” both of which are things I would not have expected to see on a network TV show. I mean, I don’t have a problem with either, I’d just expect some religious parents groups to get their members (who never even saw the show to begin with) to write angry letters to the FCC.
Black-ish is ABC’s new sitcom with Anthony Anderson and Lawrence Fishburne. Which I was pleased to see, because I have long lamented the absence of the black family sitcom from network TV. They used to be a staple, from the Jeffersons to Good Times to Cosby to the Fresh Prince, but they’re basically only on cable now.
But what allowed me enjoy those shows as a white guy is that, while they had black characters, the show wasn’t about being black. But Black-ish is entirely about being black. Anthony Anderson grew up in poverty and is now a pretty wealthy ad executive. Raising his kids in a nice house in a white neighborhood has him feeling like they’re losing their racial identity. And he gets the promotion to vice president he was hoping for, but it’s to VP of the Urban division.
Which is a perfectly fine thing to make a TV show about, but I think it’s hard for me as a white guy with basically no ethnic identity of any kind to get invested in that. I sympathize with it, but I don’t relate it. Same reason I don’t watch too many married couple sitcoms.
I hope it succeeds though. It apparently had good numbers with the pilot, but it aired after Modern Family, so that’s not surprising at all.
Scorpions is CBS’s new show about a band of misfit geniuses and no-nonsense waitress Katharine McPhee solving complicated problems or something. If it were better written, I would probably like this premise. But there are weird elements of the show that are confusing as far as technology, logic, and all sorts of other stuff. Plus they do that really annoying thing of “I’m going to prove how smart I am by looking at you for 30 seconds, picking out 8 details about your appearance, and analyzing you completely. Then you’re going to get angry because that’s rude and one of them is not true.”
And Katharine McPhee is either not as hot as I remember, or she wasn’t that hot to begin with (she was on Community for like 3 minutes, but I think that’s the only thing I really know her from). She’s cute and all but not enough to justify watching a show I don’t otherwise like.
Gotham starts with the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne and follows Jim Gordon in the pre-Batman days. The list of things I don’t like about this is long:
- In the intro, Catwoman pulls off one very slick robbery, followed immediately by an amateurish pickpocketing that almost gets her caught. So which is she? Slick thief, or total novice? I don’t get the point of it.
- They very clearly set up the Waynes’ murder as a hit from the start. Their deaths as a random, pointless street crime is just plain better.
- Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen are already on the GCPD MCU. This is supposed to be a time when Gotham is corrupt as can be, but two good cops are already in positions of authority.
- Gordon is a war hero/son of a do-gooder DA. I dunno why this one bugs me, can’t he just be a regular guy who wants to do the right thing?
- Penguin is thin.
- Barbara, the future Mrs. Gordon, is crazy rich or something. That’s totally weird.
- Little Poison Ivy’s name isn’t Pamela.
- The threw in a stand-up comedian who I think is supposed to be the Joker. Joker should have no backstory.
- Riddler is a the forensic guy, and in his minute on screen he did everything short of saying “riddle me this, boy wonder” to make 1000% sure the audience knew he was the Riddler.
- They generally play the game of “hey look, it’s that person you’ve heard of!” so hard. And it’s dumb.
- For a while I thought they had Harvey Bullock right. Adapted to working in a corrupt system, totally cynical, but not actually a bad guy. But in the end they make him an actual bad guy in a way I can’t really defend. They probably have longer term plans, but they end the pilot on a note where Bullock is beyond redemption as a cop.
The list of things I like is short:
- I think Renee and Barbara used to date. That’s kinda interesting.
- Donal Logue is excellent.
I think it’s a terrible idea from the start. Gotham before Batman is not that interesting. It’s just really, really corrupt. The weird stuff doesn’t happen until after Batman. But who are we kidding, of course I’m going to watch it.
Madam Secretary stars Tea Leoni as the Secretary of State. The title seems weird. It makes it sound like her being a woman is an odd thing, but three of our last five (Albright, Rice, Clinton) have been women. So out of all the high profile jobs in Washington, this is the one that at this point is the least remarkable for a woman to hold. But I guess they’re putting it on before The Good Wife, so maybe they’re thinking fans of that show are interested in other lady shows, so they want to highlight its ladyness.
Tim Daily is her husband, Bebe Neuwirth is her chief of staff or whatever, Mr. Christina Hendricks/the snozzberries taste like snozzberries guy is her speech writer, William Sadler is some CIA guy, Zeljko Ivanek plays the White House Chief of Staff, and Keith Carradine is the President.
Anyway, the show isn’t especially bad, but it’s not very good either. If there weren’t two clunky bits of dialogue early on, I probably would have given it a second shot, but I really can’t see a reason to keep watching.
Play It Again, Dick is a new show the CW is putting on CW Seed, their platform for cheap online-only shows. It stars Ryan Hansen as himself, trying to get a spinoff made for Veronica Mars character. Which, as part of the premise of the show, is an idea so terrible that it’s amusing. It’s pretty amusing, though I’m not sure how often episodes are posted really.
And no RSS feed. Which is becoming a trend. Si.com redesigned their site and ditched their RSS feed, so after having been a loyal reader ever since ESPN started embedding autoplay videos, I bailed on their site and went back to ESPN. But anyway that has nothing to do with anything. I bookmarked the CW Seed site and will hopefully remember to check it once in a while.
Godzilla didn’t manage to hold my attention for a reason I can’t quite place. i was a little put off that Bryan Cranston wasn’t in it for very long, and Kick-Ass/Quicksilver was sort of the real main character. And Elizabeth Olsen was just the wife, she didn’t really do anything but sit at home and worry about her husband. The non-monster portions of the story were just so fucking boring, that I missed the climactic monster fight. I got a little distracted, and when I looked back, everyone was like “well, thank god that’s over,” and then the credits rolled. I didn’t feel any urge to rewind and watch the big fight either.
Technically American Dad started on Sunday, but that was it for a whole week, so I’m calling Sunday the 21st the actual start of the TV season.
As a result, time to figure out what I’m watching.
It looks like I’m becoming a little bit more discriminating. Or TV has gotten worse. Or possibly it’s just weirdly spread out? I didn’t use a third row much, and the ones I did use were pretty sparse.
High Moon was a 2 hour pilot for a SyFy series that they didn’t pick up, but decided to air it anyway as a movie. It’s based on a novel, The Lotus Caves, from 1969, so the bad guys are the Russians, not the Chinese (oddly, the Chinese aren’t even mentioned, the factions on the moon appear to be the US, Japan, Russia, India, a Mexico/Brazil alliance, and some sort of corporation).
I’m disappointed it wasn’t picked up. It would have been at home with shows like Eureka and Warehouse 13. The dialog is campy but oddly charming, it’s a mix of wacky scifi and poltical intrigue in a way that worked quite well. It wasn’t great or anything, but a big step above the last few Syfy original series.
Z Nation stars Harold Perrineau, Tom Everett Scott, DJ Qualls, and a bunch of nobodies in SyFy’s new post-zombie apocalypse series. They kind of lost me with the opening newscast voiceover, “The President is dead. This is an extinction scale event. Do not panic… National governments have fallen. There is no cure.” If you don’t want them to panic, you probably shouldn’t have told them… everything else in that message.
The whole thing has the feel of a SyFy original movie, to be honest. A few actors recognizable as “that guy from that thing,” a low budget despite a concept that requires a lot of special effects, and crappy dialog. Not recommended.