Pilot Watch, Week Four: The Frenetic and The Neurotic

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

Hello and welcome back to pilot watch, where I watch the new shows that have just premiered this Fall season and report back to you. Sorry for the lateness of this post, I had a wedding to attend last weekend so I got busy with that and I figured since there was only one pilot premier last week, and only one this week, I would combine the two and do a mid-week post. I know you won’t mind, you’re all really lovely people, aren’t you? 🙂

Okay, the two pilots I’m reviewing this time around is FX’s American Horror Story and HBO’s Enlightened, two very different pilots from two very different genres with one similarity; they both have emotionally troubled/disturbed characters at the center. Both are also the kind of pilots you either love or hate – and there’ll be no convincing anyone otherwise. So what did I think of the two pilots? Love or loathe? Read on and you’ll find out!

1/ American Horror Story, airs on FX, Wednesdays, 10/9c.

When Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, aka the men behind the massively successful Glee revealed that they would be taking on the more “adult” genre of horror with American Horror Story, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical. It’s not that I don’t think they would create a horrible show but it’s that I know they would create a fun, campy horror series that would either be convoluted and preachy by the second season (Glee) or downright weird and even morphing into a whole other genre by the third season (Nip/Tuck). Let’s face it, Ryan Murphy is great at starting something no one has done and succeeded before, but consistency is not his strongest suit. And that is the biggest problem I have with American Horror Story so far, the fear that it will get me hooked – just like Glee and Nip/Tuck in the past – and then disappoint me in the end.

However, I did enjoy the pilot very much. It was a straight up homage to all the great horror movies of the past, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining, and the fact that we get Mrs Coach Connie Britton back on TV so soon after Friday Night Lights wrapped its fifth and final season is just the cherry on top of a really disturbing cake. The frenetic pace of the pilot was a little dizzying but I think it worked with the genre so I didn’t mind it so much. And yes, the whole sex with a ghost in a gimp suit is a little hard to stomach – not to mention the knowledge that sweet Mrs Coach is now carrying Rosemary’s Baby ruins the whole Tami-worship for me a little bit, but if you’ve never seen Friday Night Lights it shouldn’t bother you one bit. And in the end, the multiple sightings of Dylan McDermott’s man-ass is enough to keep me watching, really. 😉

As for the horror itself, I didn’t find the show at all scary. But then again, I’m Asian. Our ghosts can climb out of TV sets, unhinge their jaws and swallows American ghosts for breakfast. Have you seen the original Japanese version of The Ring and The Grudge? Yeah. They’re not for the faint-hearted. American Horror Story is more Poltergeist than Ju-On, so it shouldn’t be too traumatizing.

Verdict: Watch, But Prepare To Bail At The First Sign of Trouble.

2/ Enlightened, airs on HBO, Mondays at 9.30/8.30c.

If American Horror Story goes out of its way to scare the bejezus out of you, HBO’s new comedy Enlightened opts instead to help you find your inner peace and work through your rage. Enlightened tells the story of a woman, who after experiencing a nervous breakdown at work, spends time at a treatment center in Hawaii and finds her inner piece. She returns to LA to spread her positive energy only to find that it’s easier to find inner peace in a tropical paradise where she gets to swim with sea turtles than in the harsh reality of a big city. The premise isn’t funny and really, if you’re looking for a funny ha-ha moment you’re not going to get it (at least not in the pilot), but I think there is something promising about this show, you just have to be patient.

The pilot started with Laura Dern crying in a bathroom stall, and it just went downhill from there for her character. She unraveled in a very public way, and, like her co-workers, we felt sorry for her and even a little embarrassed. Like I said, it’s not funny ha-ha. That kind of meltdown is not something to laugh about, and I’m wondering to myself why this show is packaged as a comedy when, even though it’s earnest and sweet, it’s really more of a drama. The whole pilot was to establish Dern’s character and her journey, the journey we are taking along with her towards self-acceptance and emotional health. It’s not hilarious, but just like any journey in life, it has potential.

Enlightened benefits from having so many incredible actors in its cast, from Dern to Luke Wilson, who plays her cokehead ex-husband, to Dern’s real life mother Diane Ladd (who also plays her mother in the show), so even though it’s not a light-hearted affair a la its predecessor Bored To Death, the acting chops of those three alone is enough to keep me interested. But be warned: this is more like In Treatment Lights. It’s not going to put a smile on your face straight away but after a few sessions, it just might.

Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If This Sort of Thing Interests You, Give It A Watch.

And there you have it, my reviews of the pilots I’ve seen in the past week and a half. There’s no new pilot premiering next week except for Once Upon A Time on Sunday night, so the next Pilot Watch post will be posted in two week’s time.

Until then!


Binky Bee

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