Pilot Watch, Week Two: The Oh So Good and The Awesomely Bad

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

It’s week two of new Fall pilot premieres and you know I’m still here to watch and report to you lovely people of the blogosphere what I think of the new pilots the networks have to offer for this season. It’s not easy, getting through all these pilots, which is why I should warn you that I didn’t watch all that premiered this week, only the ones featured in my Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall and a few others that I was curious enough to check out.

This week, more shows premiered, but only two really deserved a mention (since I already reviewed New Girl last week, even though it technically didn’t premiere until last Tuesday night): Person of Interest and 2 Broke Girls. The rest are kind of blah, with the notable exception of Revenge, a show that is camptastic for its “melodrama for melodrama’s sake” approach that actually works. So which shows are worth your time and DVR space and which shows you (and the networks) need to forget ever existed? Read on and (let me) be the judge! 😉

1/ Two Broke Girls, CBS, Mondays 8.30/7.30c

This Fall not only marks the beginning of the female domination in comedy, it’s also the season that brings not one, but two indie princesses to mainstream television: Zooey Deschanel with Fox’s New Girl and Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Charlie Bartlett) with CBS’ 2 Broke Girls. And if ratings for both shows are any indication, it seems that mainstream television audience is just as much in love with these indie darlings as the film festival hipsters.

2 Broke Girls tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a street-smart Brooklyn diner waitress and a down-and-out former Upper East Side princess, as they work together raising money to launch a cupcake business. Created and executive produced by Sex and The City’s Michael Patrick King and comedienne Whitney Cummings, who incidentally also had her own sitcom launched on NBC on the same week, this show may not be groundbreaking comedy but it’s still fun and sweet at the same time. Sure, some of the jokes are a little lame. But both leads, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, are great actresses and they can convince us to smile even when the jokes felt flat. This show is also smart enough not to portray broke socialite Caroline Channing as an airhead vapid narcissist a la Paris Hilton (which would be annoying) but instead gave her depths and intelligence (after all she did go to Wharton Business School). All in all, this show is a great addition to CBS’ Monday night lineup and I’d rather commit my time to this one than Kutcher-infused Two and A Half Men.

Verdict: Give It A Watch, You’d Be Pleasantly Surprised.

2/ The Playboy Club, NBC, Mondays 10/9c

Thanks to the success of Mad Men (that show has just won its fourth consecutive Emmy, which is no easy feat), this season the Big 5 networks are trying to ride on the show’s coat tail by launching their own version of the “retro” genre: ABC is premiering Pan Am this Sunday night, about (what else?) Pan Am stewardesses in the 60s, possibly inspired by that episode of Mad Men (in season 3 if I’m not mistaken) when Don Draper hooked up with a Pan Am stewardess, and NBC premiered The Playboy Club, about (what else?) Playboy Bunnies in the 60s, also quite possibly inspired by the fact that Mad Men’s Pryce dated an African American bunny from the club, if I remember my Mad Men correctly. And guess what? I don’t know about Pan Am (yet, check back here next week for my review) but NBC’s The Playboy Club doesn’t even come close to the greatness of Mad Men. It doesn’t even deserve to be called “a poor man’s Mad Men”. If Matthew Weiner saw the pilot, he’d be laughing so hard, he’d wet his pants, I’m telling you.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh but it can’t be that bad, you’re just bias because you can’t stand Eddie Cibrian.” And it’s true, I can’t stand him, but still. I watched the show to support Dr Simon Tam Sean Maher and I went into it hoping that I’d like it despite my hatred of all things Cibrian (because my love and loyalty to Firefly and its alumni is that great), and even with my unwavering allegiance to the crew of Serenity, I can’t say anything good about this show. The problem isn’t just Cibrian, though he’s a part of it, the problem is in its heavy-handed exposition and the fact that it tries REALLY hard to be Mad Men, to the point of unoriginality (Cibrian’s Nick Dalton is Don Draper if he were a Playboy Club-frequenting lawyer, the Bunny Mother Carol Lynn is Joan Holloway if she were a “Bunny Mother”, the new Bunny that accidentally killed a mob boss is Peggy Olsen if she were an ambitious Playboy Bunny). Fellow WordPresser and Twitter friend Madmonq puts it this way: “[The] Playboy Club is like a retarded inbred midget trying to play Don Draper“. Harsh, but true. I love you, Sean Maher, but you really need to find a new job, STAT!

Verdict: Don’t Waste Your Time, Watch Castle Instead.

3/ Revenge, ABC, Wednesdays, 10/9c.

I feel like I shouldn’t be reviewing this show and instead just direct you to the New York Magazine’s Vulture review of the pilot, because I think it succinctly describes the exact appeal of ABC’s new guilty pleasure show (“Like the television equivalent of Peach Melba, it may be out of style, but it tastes pretty good.”). No, seriously, do read the review after you finish checking out this post because I agree 100% with their assessment and I have nothing new to add, really. 🙂 Revenge, as the review in Vulture stated, is straight up melodrama and in an era where bad TV shows try too hard to be ironic, tongue-in-cheek, or subversive to mask the fact that they’re really truly awful, it is like a breath of fresh air. It’s camptastic, yes, but it fully owns up to it and doesn’t try to be anything else. That’s what’s so great about it.

That’s not to say that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, because it does. It takes itself so seriously that I don’t think anyone even cracked a real joke in the pilot. Scandals abound and every character has a secret a la Desperate Housewives, only it doesn’t even try to pretend it’s a satire. It’s not a satire, it’s pure and simple melodrama and for some reason, I am sucked in. Like Dynasty and Dallas in the past, I simply MUST watch this show. And if you’re not too much of a hipster and can appreciate the good ol’ days of campy, melodramatic primetime soaps, I promise you’ll love this one too.

Verdict: Just Watch. You’ll Love It. But Totally Deny That You Do.

4/ Person of Interest, CBS, Thursdays, 9/8c

Out of all the pilots that have premiered in the last two weeks, I have to say that this one is my new favorite drama. And considering that it’s on CBS, well that’s definitely saying something. It’s not just because it had Michael Emerson, and executive-produced by JJ Abrams, though it helped, the reason why I’m falling hard for this show is because it is that good. And not just for a CBS show, for a TV show in general. After last year’s disappointing Undercovers, JJ Abrams has finally redeemed himself (again) in my eyes.

Person of Interest has an interesting premise and is probably the most high concept procedural on CBS right now. It tells the story of a presumed dead ex-CIA agent (or something, they were pretty vague on what government agency the protagonist used to work for) played by Jesus Jim Caviezel, who is hired by a genius (and also, presumed dead) billionaire named Finch (Michael Emerson) to help him stop a future crime before it happens. I told you it’s high concept! It is definitely a welcome change from the usual crime procedurals of CBS, while still retaining the user-friendly format of high tech, crime solving badassery that the CSI and NCIS franchises are known for. It’s smart but kickass, it’s entertaining but at the same time paranoid, it’s got a great cast – with Taraji P. Henson playing a cop investigating our elusive protagonist, and it’s relevant in this post-9/11 world, where there’s only a thin line between vigilance and paranoia. If you want a smarter, more interesting procedural than the many CSI franchises, you have to give this one a try.

Verdict: Watch It or You’ll Regret It.

5/ Charlie’s Angels, ABC, Thursdays, 8/7c.

Remakes don’t always work on TV, especially when the remake is of a beloved TV show of decades past. NBC tried to reboot both Bionic Woman and Knight Rider without much success, and The CW also failed miserably when they tried to resurrect Melrose Place for the Facebook generation. Still, the relative success of The CW’s 90210 (now in its third season) and CBS’ Hawaii 5-0 (now in its second), not to mention the fact that Nikita somehow magically got a second season pickup, gave ABC enough confidence to give this Charlie’s Angels reboot the green light, especially since it’s produced by Drew Barrymore’s production company, the same one that produced both movies. And the result? Well, let’s just say it was so bad, I actually felt sorry for the three angels, especially Minka Kelly – and Victor Garber, who was just hired recently as the Voice of Charlie. They must’ve fallen on some hard times to want to be involved in this piece of crap.

The problem with this show is this; it’s plain stupid. Really bad writing and the acting is not exactly Emmy-worthy either. Sure, even the original wasn’t exactly Emmy-worthy but it was a different time, there wasn’t that many channels to choose from back then. There weren’t an abundance of brilliant shows being churned out by the cable networks every season to set a standard for quality. And yes, the movies weren’t exactly genius either, but we forgave the stupidity of both movies because they were campy and funny. This reboot is neither smart nor funny, which means it’s just awesomely bad. Hawaii 5-0 looks like groundbreaking television compared to this one. It’s so bad I gotta wonder what the execs in ABC were smoking when they gave the OK. I mean, that must’ve been some powerful hallucinogenics, right?

Verdict: Do Yourself A Favor and Watch Community and Parks & Recreation Instead.

6/ Hart of Dixie, The CW, starting Monday, Sept 26, 9/8c.

This show technically doesn’t premiere until Monday, but as executive producer Josh Schwartz promised via Twitter last week, the pilot episode has been available on iTunes for early viewing since Thursday, in an effort to drum up interests and get a positive buzz going. And of course, I can’t resist to check this show out early. How can I? Summer Roberts Rachel Bilson has finally returned to TV, and I’ve missed her. Plus, she brought Friday Night Lights’ Scott Porter along for the ride. And I’m always happy to see an FNL alumn back on my television (why do you think I checked out Charlie’s Angels? :-)).

Hart of Dixie tells the story of Dr. Zoe Hart (Bilson) who left Manhattan for Bluebell, Alabama when her career as hotshot NYC surgeon stalled thanks to her poor bedside manner and inability to remember any of her patient’s name. It’s a fish out of Manhattan story, that’s kind of been there, done that, plus it’s really hard taking Bilson seriously as a surgeon, especially since she still slips into Summer Roberts speak every now and then (“Diarrhea and diaper rash? Ew!” was seriously one of her lines), BUT, it’s still a charming little show with a good soundtrack and sprinkled with Southern hospitality and polite back-stabbing here and there that I think I’m going to keep watching. Besides, Rachel Bilson’s wardrobe in this show is so inspired. I’d watch every week just to get some style inspiration.

Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If You Loved The OC, This May Charm You As Well.

And there we go, the six pilots I happened to watch this week. Sorry I’m a little late with this, it’s been a crazy weekend! But I’ll be back next weekend for more pilot premiere reviews. Next week it’s Pan Am and Suburgatory’s turn. Will they delight or disappoint? I guess we’ll see!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

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3 responses to “Pilot Watch, Week Two: The Oh So Good and The Awesomely Bad

  1. You are such a doll baby for dropping my name again. And of course she is right, folks. About everything. Thanks Ms Binky

    • Hey it’s all you. I laughed so hard when you tweeted the “retarded inbred midget playing Don Draper” comment about The Playboy Club, I just had to put it in my review! 🙂

  2. Wow, you nailed the “Playboy Club”–it lived up to your review and I don’t think anyone will miss it now that it is canned and gone.

    Nicely done Binky.

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