Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall Pilot Reviews 2014: Stalker, Bad Judge, and Gracepoint

We're back with some more pilot reviews!  A surprisingly good batch as of the three I was only excited about Gracepoint.  Let's get to it!

STALKER (CBS, premiered 1 Oct 14, airs Wed 10/9c, available on demand from CBS and the CBS app)

Another procedural with a twist from CBS, this show is about the team in LA that deals with stalking.  A fairly interesting opening mystery with a couple nice twists accompanies two very capable lead actors (Maggie Q best known as Nikita in the show of the same name and Dylan McDermott best known as Bobby Donnell from The Practice).  As I was watching, I believed there were a couple intriguing mysteries that would help lift this into more arc driven territory, but they were way too many answers provided in the episode for those mysteries.  The things that were left over for later episodes weren't nearly as interesting to me.  What really recommends this series is that it is from Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and, of course, Dawson's Creek), and there were quite a few good scares throughout the episode.  There aren't many shows that can provide some creepy moments on network TV, so part of me is rooting for this one.  However, it is a little too formulaic for me to probably stick with it long term since cable TV provides quite a few good horror alternatives.


Interesting Fact:  The fourth episode of the show is directed by Roxann Dawson, better known to Star Trek fans as B'Elanna Torres from Voyager, who is becoming quite a respected director in television.  Recently she has also directed two episodes of what is quickly becoming the best show currently on network television, Agents of SHIELD.

BAD JUDGE (NBC, premiered 2 Oct 14, airs Thurs 9/8c, available on Hulu)

The synopsis and previews (and obvious reminder of the failed Bad Teacher from last season, even to the point where both starred Ryan Hansen as the possible love interest) did not give me high hopes for this show.  In fact, going in I fully expected to not like it.  Then, as I was watching, I found myself continually laughing and completely engrossed with the story and the characters (even though I still have a hard time imagining that Ryan Hansen - who played Dick Cassablancas on Veronica Mars and pretty boy actor Kyle Bradway on Party Down, as well as playing a fictionalized version of himself in Play it Again, Dick right now on CW Seed - as a respected psychiatrist).  The show is hilarious, the actors are all fantastic, and even with the seemingly incongruity of Ryan Hansen as someone with brains, he stole nearly every scene that he was in.  This and A to Z which follows directly after it are bringing back memories of the great comedy block NBC had on Thursday night 10 years ago.  I highly recommend both shows.


Interesting Fact:  The show was created by Anne Heche of all people, but she has unquestionable comedic talent working with her on the show: Will Ferrel and Adam McKay of Anchorman fame!  I look forward to the inevitable Will Ferrel cameo on the show.

GRACEPOINT (FOX, premiered 2 Oct 14, airs Thurs 9/8c, available on Hulu)

Gracepoint is a 10 episode mini-series based on the BBC show Broadchurch (which also starred David Tennant - the 10th Doctor in Doctor Who), although apparently it will deviate somewhat in the mystery.  I didn't see Broadchurch, but it got rave reviews.  I will probably check it out at somepoint, as really good mysteries aren't something that are that common in television as we too often just get mysteries-of-the-week instead.  I'm glad, however, that I'm coming into Gracepoint somewhat unaware of what occurred on Broadchurch.  The last great mystery show on television (in my opinion) was Veronica Mars, a show that coupled mystery of the week episodes with an overarching mystery that went through the season (in the case of the first two seasons, and two half season mysteries in season three).  How To Get Away With Murder seems to be following this same plan.  Gracepoint, on the other hand seems to be working with only one mystery that will be teased throughout the ten episode season, the murder of a local twelve-year-old boy.  Everyone in the town is a possible suspect.  The acting is beyond fantastic, and the dialogue and direction are equally top-notch.  The show is dark, somewhat disturbing, and continually has you at the edge of your seat.  British television is excellent at having seasons that are mostly self-contained, and it is a good thing, I think, that US television is giving this a shot.  I'm not sure that they plan for a second season, meaning that they have a specific story to tell and it will take 10 episodes.  Hopefully more American television will begin to follow this model, or at the very least follow a similar model to HBO's True Detective, which will feature a different cast and mystery for season 2.


Interesting Fact:  David Tennant does a stellar job of an American accent (while Christopher Eccleston's accent in The Leftovers leaves a little to be desired), but perhaps that shouldn't be too big of a shock.  After all, he's putting on a fake accent as the Doctor in Doctor Who as well.  David Tennant is actually Scottish, and who could imagine the Doctor with a Scottish accent!?  (Everyone, quite easily now, as current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, who is also Scottish is using his natural accent to play the Doctor.)

Until Next Time, We have our first 100!  Will anyone else reach this magical number of perfection?  You'll have to wait and see!  Coming soon are reviews of Mulaney and The Flash.

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