Monday, September 22, 2014

Pilot Reviews Fall 2014: Selfie, Red Band Society, Madam Secretary

Ten years ago today, the television world changed forever with the advent of a pilot that blew our minds and would continue to challenge and thrill us for six seasons.  That show that aired for the first time ten years ago was, of course, LOST.

LOST would go on to win the first annual coveted Josh's Choice for the Best New Show of the Season.  As we enter the television season ten years later, what show will go on to win the award this year, following in the footsteps of LOST, Invasion, Friday Night Lights, Journeyman, Dollhouse, Good Wife, Chicago Code, Once Upon a Time, Arrow, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

There is only one way to find out, and that's watching some television.  We will start by reviewing each of the new shows this fall.

SELFIE (ABC, premieres Sept 30, airs Tues 8/7c, available on Hulu)

I really wanted to like this, because I love Karen Gillan (aka Amy Pond from Doctor Who).  I actually rooted for Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Alas, this My Fair Lady remake (her character's name is Eliza Doolie) is not very good.  Karen Gillan (who is outstanding throughout her Doctor Who run and making a name for herself with her great performance in Oculus and the aforementioned part in the best film of the summer, Guardians of the Galaxy) does as good a job as anyone could, but the premise and writing leave a lot to be desired.  I highly doubt this show gets another viewing from me, and that's a shame, because I do love Amy Pond, but maybe its quick demise will allow her to get back to playing some roles that will make her the star she deserves to be.

There are a few interesting costars as well (including John Cho of Harold and Kumar fame), but like Gillan, there is no rising above this material.  I don't foresee this show lasting too long.  In fact, if we were having a poll for the show most likely to get cancelled first, Selfie would be getting some great odds.


Interesting Fact:  David Harewood, who plays Eliza and Henry's boss, also appeared on Doctor Who in the two episodes proceeding Karen Gillan's turn as Amy Pond.

RED BAND SOCIETY (FOX, premiered Sept 17, airs Wed 9/8c, available on Hulu)

Narrated by a kid in a coma, yes, seriously, its a dramedy about a bunch of sick kids living in a hospital.  I think its going for a Glee-vibe.  We've got an over-achieving girl who has an eating disorder, a super bitchy cheerleader (who, shocker!, has a lesson to learn), the cool kid in a wheelchair, the black dude who "always knows where the party is" and who has graffitied his name throughout the hospital (I wish I was making that up), the kid that talks his way into the hospital because he doesn't think his doctors are as competent as the one in the hospital (who otherwise is exactly like the kid in the wheelchair, they even made that joke in the show), and then the nurses and doctors who take care of the kids (who seem more interesting to be honest, at least to this point they're better actors).

If it weren't for the ridiculous coma narration and all the cliches, there could be some promise; unfortunately, every character is a cliche and the lack of originality makes banal anything that might be fresh about the show.  And this might be the first time I've ever seen a show have a "Jump the Shark" moment in the pilot episode (and yes, it involves Coma Boy).


Interesting Fact:  Octavia Spencer from The Help (the best part of that movie) is the best part of this show as well.  Although, the rich, eccentric hypochondriac who has a wing in the hospital named after him (the wing he lives in despite being totally healthy) seems interesting, but it seems like he's only in the pilot as of now, so that's disappointing.

MADAM SECRETARY (CBS, premiered Sept 21, airs Sun 8/7c, available on CBS/ondemand and app)

Primarily comedic actors Tea Leoni (although best known as the real life wife of Mulder, and as a joke on that fact, she played Skully in an episode of the X-Files where they were making a movie on Mulder and Skully), Tim Daly (Joe from Wings), and Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith from Cheers) in a smart drama that looks like there's going to be a pretty interesting subplot running through involving Tea Leoni's characters past in the CIA.  But now, she's thrust from life as a civilian to being the new Secretary of State.  And it is immediately engaging.  The episodes main plot is interesting and evokes a touch of West Wing (which coincidentally premiered today 15 years ago), never a bad thing.  While mostly serious and exceedingly well written and acted, there are few laugh out loud moments as well.  I especially loved how at one point the Secretary used media's obsession with fashion for powerful females to keep the main plot story from reaching large media attention.  Smart and funny.  This show has potential.  As I said to a friend as I was watching this is CBS at its finest, more Person of Interest and The Good Wife - CBS than NCIS and CSI - CBS.


Interesting Fact:  Tim Daly is also the voice of Superman in the DC Animated Universe, which the way things are looking might be the only DC universe on our screens ever worth watching unless you count Arrow and Flash.

Until Next Time, Madam Secretary wasn't a show I had any interest in before watching it, but now, I can't wait to see where it goes.  It has thrust itself into contention for JCFBNSOTS.  Of course, there are four new super hero shows airing this year (Gotham, Flash, Constantine, and Agent Carter), so competition figures to be tight.  See you soon with some more pilot reviews!

1 comment:

  1. I like Madame Secretary!! Being a cancer survivor, I can not watch Red Band Society...... Good job on the reviews Josh!! CarolT