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The Rule of Three: New Show Reviews (2013)

So here we are, a little more than halfway through the 2013-2014 TV season. But I’m sure you haven’t seen all the new shows yet. So, instead of you watching every single show to find out if you’d like it, I gave each new series a 3-episode watch. Why? Because pilot shows are mostly horrible, especially when networks have to do 15 of them all at one time (easy for AMC or HBO to produce hits when they make practically 2 shows a year). So, usually, pilots end up doing a bad job representing how good the show is. Friends and Seinfeld both had terrible beginnings to their series (low ratings, and when the pilots premiered, no one was really impressed); but it took time for the show to build. Unfortunately, the people of the 90s had more time on their hands than people today. We don’t have the time to break in a new show. We watch one episode; and if it sucks, we’re done.

But that ends today.

I’ve watched these episodes and ranked them with my favorite new series on bottom. Each show will have a verdict: whether it’s worth watching and whether it has what I call HPS, or “Horrible Pilot Sydrome”. This means the show is actually pretty good, but its horrible pilot episode was mainly why no one wanted to give it a chance. A perfect example of “HPS” is Parks and Recreation (NBC): a great show with a horrible pilot…and horrible 1st season. But the show post-first season is amazing. Of course, everything is subjective, but I tried to include factual data (ratings) into my assessments.

Let’s start with the shows I picked NOT to use my Rule of Three. I choose 3 shows before the season begins that I believed wouldn’t make it as to not totally waste my time. I immediately chose Betrayal (ABC) as my very first choice, about a married man and married women liking each other. There’s some plot in between, but right off the bat, that whole premise turned me off. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC) was another one, mainly because I don’t watch its mother show, Once Upon a Time (ABC). So if I don’t watch one, I’m not going to watch the other. Lastly, Hostages (CBS) about a doctor’s family being held hostage unless the women kills the President in his upcoming surgery. That show sounded more like a mini-series, not really a long-term plot. Plus, the plot, frankly, is not that good.

Along with those shows, I don’t really count alternative programs, so Masterchef Junior (FOX) is not being considered in the race. Shows that started this winter I also don’t count since they haven’t reached 3 episodes yet. I’ll start with my list first (from best-to-worst), then you can nip-pick which shows you want to hear the pros and cons on (from worst-to-best):

  1. The Blacklist (NBC)
  2. Brooklyn 9-9 (FOX)
  3. The Crazy Ones (CBS)
  4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
  5. Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
  6. Mom (CBS)
  7. The Goldbergs (ABC)
  8. Michael J Fox Show (NBC)
  9. Almost Human (FOX)
  10. The Millers (CBS)
  11. Super Fun Night (ABC)
  12. Trophy Wife (ABC)
  13. We Are Men (CBS)
  14. Ironside (NBC)
  15. Dads (FOX)
  16. Back in the Game (ABC)
  17. Dracula (NBC)
  18. Sean Saves the World (NBC)
  19. Welcome to the Family (NBC)
  20. Lucky 7 (ABC)

20. Lucky 7 (ABC)

Lucky 7…not so lucky

Lucky 7 was not a victim of the “Horrible Pilot Syndrome”, or HPS, because, frankly, it was horrible. It was the first to rate below a 1.0 key rating, which is completely unheard of for broadcast networks, which average 3.0.

Pros: A show about 6 employees winning the lottery does encourage the idea that people might not be able to deal with the psychiatric issues that comes with winning. The one thing I really did like was that one of employees (unlucky #7) did the responsible thing, not wasting money on the lottery, but now his friends all won. That would have been interesting. There was a twist where the main character, who usually participates in the lottery, didn’t have the money for the lottery that week (but someone covered him), so when they all won, the characters had to vote whether to include him in the winnings or not.

Cons: But the plot was not interesting enough. Actually, I take that back. The plot was just not good. Two of the to-be-winning characters stole from the store before winning the lottery (oops), and we’re supposed to like these characters? Plus, one of them is a convict (and encouraged the break-in from the start), yet is dating a younger girl (who’s smart enough to know that’s a horrible idea). And we’re supposed to like him? The characters weren’t likable and for those that were at least bearable, I found to be extremely hard to cheer for. The Rest of America agreed: it was the lowest rated ABC drama of all-time.

Verdict: Doesn’t Matter, Cancelled by Episode Two, not a HPS victim

19. Welcome to the Family (NBC)

Welcome to the Family…now get out.

Speaking of record-breaking lows, this cancelled comedy was NBC’s lowest rated comedy of all-time. Welcome to the Family was about two graduated high-schoolers who get engaged due to an unexpected pregnancy, which forces two families together, to the dismay of their fathers who hate each other. Not a victim of HPS because the show tried too hard to be unique from a tired, unoriginal plot.

Pros: The cast themselves weren’t bad actors, and I’m always a fan for Mike O’Malley (Yes Dear, Kurt’s dad in Glee). You actually do like the two young lead characters, played by Ella Peck (Lola from Gossip Girl) and Joey Haro (both in the middle in the photo). While not perfect, their care for each other is believable. 

Cons: But the plot’s been done SO MANY TIMES before. Also, the mother (on the daughter’s side) ALSO gets pregnant. Two pregnancies? What is this: Secret Life of An American Teenager (ABC Family)? After a showing like this, I’m sure NBC is happy they didn’t cancel Community

Verdict: Doesn’t Matter, Cancelled by Episode Two, not a HPS victim

18. Sean Saves the World (NBC)

Save Saves the World…and failing at the moment

I’m sure having the lowest rated show of all-time preceding your show isn’t helping, but Sean Saves the World hasn’t done so well. It stars Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as a divorced gay father trying to balance life at work (with his well-intentioned friends/co-workers and demanding boss) and his life at home (with his annoyed daughter and aggressive mother). I won’t be watching past the first 3 episodes. 

Pro: Unlike like Welcome to the Family, it does gather a laugh or two. I have issues with the casting, but I credit them for keeping Megan Hilty (the blonde lead in Smash) around and hiring Echo Kellum (furthest right in photo), who played Tommy in last year’s FOX sitcom Ben and Kate (another perfect HPS victim, because it was a hilarious show with a horrible pilot!). While I’m not 100% on board with either characters, they both support the show better than I think anyone else could. Sam Isler (furthest left in photo) does a fair job as Sean’s daughter; she can play the annoyed, embarrassed, independent kid pretty well. 

Cons: How does Sean actually save the world? Perhaps it should be “Sean Saves His World”, but even that doesn’t really work if you watch the show. Perhaps getting Megan Hilty was a good move, but it feels odd switching her so fast from a singing drama to laugh-track comedy. Plus, the over-bearing mother (2nd from left in photo) is a bit much. But the thing that breaks the show down a lot is the boss: Unrealistic behavior, and not funny. Frankly, I could care less for Sean as a character as well. His character is matter-of-fact like and…well, isn’t every character in a comedy already that? 

Verdict: Not Advised to Watch, Not a Victim for HPS

17. Dracula

Dracula. No blood will be spilled from this show.

Grimm (NBC) made a pretty interesting splash on NBC, bringing a dedicated, small, and consistent audience for a darker theme than the network is used to. The problem is that they tried to do other shows like it. Hannibal, while critically acclaimed, hasn’t done well in the ratings; and now they’re putting a new attempt in with Dracula, about a vampire trying to avenge his wife by creating havoc on the rich organization who killed her. I don’t recommend this show, and I won’t watch past the first three episodes.

Pros: The supporting cast, while not strong, is pretty good. Jessica De Gouw (who plays Mina) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (who plays Jon Harker) are both great actors for their characters, and their characters are honestly the best part of the entire show. Plus, I’m a fan of making Mina more strong-willed, as she attempts to become the first women doctor.

Cons: While Jonathan Rhys Meyers (pictured) plays a decent Dracula, I seriously don’t see myself cheering for him. I understand that in writing, that’s hard to do. Plus, the plot change that Mina maybe the reincarnation of his murdered wife takes it to a weird level that puts me in an awkward position. Plus, each episode just isn’t interesting enough. I don’t care if Dracula succeeds or not.

Verdict:  Not Advised to Watch, Not a Victim for HPS

16. Back in the Game (ABC)

Back in the Game….go back….way, way back…

Back in the Game is a single-camera comedy (which is a simple way of saying there’s no laugh track) about a former star softball player named Terry (photo: in orange) who moves home after a divorce to her inappropriate, former baseball pitcher-father (known as The Cannon; photo: red jacket on left). For work, she coaches her son (pictured way bottom right) and his baseball team of misfits and becomes a manager of a pizza place. I will not watching past the show’s first 3 episodes.

Pro: I do like Lulu’s personality (Terry’s best friend; photo: top left with flag) and the sad rivalry between Terry and Dick, the league commissioner (yeah, there’s chemistry there; photo: grown-up with thumbs-down). In the second episode, The Cannon’s lesson for teaching the baseball team how to not be afraid of a pitched ball (yeah…they’re that bad of a team) was, while completely unorthodox, completely cool lesson to watch.

Con: Everything else. I love Maggie Lawson (Jules from Psych). Love her, love her, LOVE. HER. But this is not the right character for her. She’s decently convincing, but she’s not aggressive enough for that character. But the whole show crumbles at the father, who’s just…completely horrible. I know, that’s the point, but really, he goes too far on a lot of things.

Verdict: Doesn’t Matter, Cancelled by Episode Four, not a HPS victim

15. Dads (FOX)

Dads and company have some funny bits; but where Two Broke Girls avoided the offensive angles, Dads hit it square on the kisser.

Dads just got picked up for a full season, but I still have not really laughed at it. A multi-camera (in other words, there’s a studio audience; think Big Bang Theory) comedy about two entrepreneurs who have to deal and take care of their inappropriate dads at home and work. I won’t be watching past the first 3 episodes. What’s up with horrible dads in shows this year?

Pros: Seth Green (photo: bottom left) does have some good ideas, and there are few very well crafted jokes. Everytime the two main characters get together, there’s at least one good joke they have. Also, the show is impressively more rapid fire than most comedies set to a laugh tracks are. Most comedies are: Line…line…line…set-up line…joke (laughter). Repeat. This is show is: line…line…set-up line…joke (laughter)…joke (laughter)…better joke (bigger laughs)…line..unexpected joke (laughter). To do that and still have a nice flow, I give the writers huge props.

Cons: The dads aren’t funny. They just aren’t. At all. Brenda Song (The Suite Life of Zach and Cody on Disney, The Social Network; photo: bottom right) hasn’t really hit her mark as a comedian. She has some good moments, but her meanness to the main guys isn’t funny enough.

Major Con: The jokes are pretty offensive. Two Broke Girls (CBS) jokes are just stereotypical, but Dads…goes to places that are just not okay. I cringed at a lot of the jokes.

Verdict: Not advised to Watch, Not a HPS victim.

14. Ironside (NBC)

Ironside wasn’t very strong to begin with.

A remake of the 60s TV show, Ironside is about a tough cop cleaning up the streets of New York…in a wheelchair…because his partner accidentally shot him.

Pro: Blair Underwood (photo: center) equals a win. Plus, it has Spencer Grammer (who played Casey in ABC Family’s Greek; photo: furthest right), who’s always been a decent supporting actress. The performances on all the parts are actually well done. I actually liked how he figured out how the victim passed, and how there was an underneath-the-surface crime involved.

Con: Putting Blair Underwood in a wheelchair. Also, the chemistry of the team was off. I never really felt like I was in it, like an Law & Order: SVU would. Also, putting the fact the the partner shot him at the end of the very first episode was kind of…shooting the mystery of the show in the leg. So what’s the overall long-story arc here? Nothing. That’s what.

Verdict: Doesn’t matter, Cancelled by Episode 3, Not a victim of HPS

13. We are Men (CBS)

We Are Men. Well they were. Kind of.

We Are Men was a single-camera comedy. When a young guy gets left at the alter, he confides in the friendship of three divorced men with similar girl-troubling pasts. The show was not a fit for CBS (perhaps it would have on ABC? TBS?), and got cancelled because of its misfit on CBS’s Monday Lineup and the low ratings. But out of all the cancelled shows so far, it probably was the best one in my opinion.

Pros: I totally digged the theme song (a “I Will Survive” remake, well done). The chemistry of all the characters were pretty good, and the girl interest, Abby (played by Rebecca Breeds, an Australian actress known for her role in the popular Australian soap opera Home and Away), was very, very, perfect for guys (she liked sports, sexy in a bikini, great smile, you know). Small plots like getting the dog from the divorced wife are fun, but could also be seen as cutesy which…

Cons: …was probably the reason they didn’t connect with guys. Girls weren’t attracted to the guys (losers) and weren’t connecting to the girl (who had more of the qualities guys want in a girl…and most girls don’t like that). Guys found the plots unrealistic, and more on the depressing side. I mean, who wants to watch a show where the guys are all losers who have no proper love life, with little else working for them (especially Kal Penn’s character: Yes, loving your girl is cute. But you’re not gonna winning points with men with your whining). They all have successful careers: why are they living in a temporary living space? Plus, what are they doing (at their age) hanging out with a 25-ish year old? Too many misconnections. Maybe if all the guys were the same age, this could have worked. But because it wasn’t, there was a level of creepiness to it. I thought the pilot wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t a victim of HPS because the show didn’t necessarily get better really. Plus, Tony Shalhoub, you’re above this!

Verdict: It had it’s funny, but it doesn’t matter; cancelled by episode 3, not a victim of HPS

12. Trophy Wife (ABC)

Trophy Wife hasn’t been much of a trophy lately

Trophy Wife tells the story of a “reformed” party girl who falls for and marries an older man who has three children with two ex-wifes (One who’s ridiculously strict, know-it-all; the other free-spirited, unreliable). Hilarity ensures as we see how the family copes with each other. Trophy Wife doesn’t fall in the HPS category, and I won’t watch beyond the first three episodes.

Pros: I love Bradley Whitford (father in this comedy, Studio 60, The Good Guys, Josh on The West Wing), and even the main character (played by Malin Åkerman) is…kind of convincing. The kids are solid actors, and the plots are kind of relatable: accidentally spilling chili on the couch, lying to the parents about partying, social media privacy. These are pretty great topics to touch on for a series that could rival Modern Family.

Cons: The behaviors of some of the characters are, well, silly. Also, I’m sure most men have a type, so how in the world did the dad marry three completely different women? A lot of the plots head in a very….weird direction [the pilot was about the teenage boy obsessing over breasts, which was though to be the new mom’s (awkward), but turned out to be a older teenager’s (even more awkward, at least the WAY they did it)]. And while the plots are relatable, how the parents react to them are slightly out of bounds, like having an entire family attending a teenager’s party is…not likely. Also, the main character’s best friend (played by the fantastic Natalie Morales; The Newsroom, White Collar, Going the Distance) is totally from left field and adds nothing to the show. Seriously. Nothing. At all.

Verdict: Not advised to watch, Predicted to be cancelled by season’s end. I believe it did suffer from Horrible Pilot Syndrome (HPS) because the shows does get better. Just not by much.

11. Super Fun Night (ABC)

Super Fun Night should be Super Fun yet Super Super Awkward Night

I’m still trying to figure out what Super Fun Night is about. A lawyer (Rebel Wilson) makes a pact with her roommates to gain more confidence in themselves and put themselves out there more often.

Pros: If you’re into the touchy-feely, “I want to feel better about myself” types of comedy: this show’s for you. Also, shout out to Rebel Wilson, who despite not-so-great writing still knocks it as hard as she can. The show does improve on itself with each episode. It’s slightly a ABC-version of New Girl (FOX), except they’re nowhere near as funny. Plus, its ratings are pretty good, but it follows the highly-rated Modern Family. So is anyone surprised? It’s holding better than Happy Endings did in the same timeslot last year. So, I give credit when credit is due.

Cons: Everyone else is striking out, so…pretty much everything else. Even Liza Lapira, who I loved on Traffic Light and Don’t Trust the B* in Apt 23, doesn’t fit in the character she plays.

Verdict: It could survive its initial season. But I don’t recommend watching it. Not a HPS victim.

10. The Millers (CBS)

The Millers are those okay type of neighbors

After his parents hear of Nathan’s (Will Arnett) divorce, the parents split up; the mom living with Nathan, and the father living with Nathan’s sister (Jayma Mays) and brother-in-law (the fantastic Nelson Franklin; Traffic Light, guest starred in New Girl as Cece’s boyfriend in Season 2)…although the parents see each other all of the time. Mother’s overbearing. Father knows absolutely nothing. What else is new? The Millers isn’t a victim of HPS, and actually are the few shows where if you watch the pilot, it does give a consistent portrayal of how the show is.

Pros: It’s rated this high, although cliche, because it is pretty funny. The cast chemistry is strong, and you can tell that Will Arnett, while holding back his Gob impersonations (Arrested Development, anyone?), is still bringing home laughs. When Jayma Mays, the former Glee cast member (well, she guest-stars on Glee now), is involved with Franklin and Arnett, there’s some greats laughs there too. Let’s also add in Nathan’s ex-wife, played by the amazing Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings, the newer version of Scrubs). while she’s in very…very few episodes, her comedy chops are great (she even as a new show on USA coming). And the show does slightly improve over the 3 episodes.

Cons: I gotta be honest, I like everyone BUT the parents. While they’re the catalyst of all the problems in this show, the overbearing mother bit gets annoying. Plus, the father who doesn’t know anything is also…really ridiculous. The fact that he doesn’t know anything is one thing, but the inability to LEARN is another. Although, the episode involving the phone upgrades was a great episode by everyone involved, the mom and dad separation isn’t making the show a hit as it should. Margo Martindale’s and Beau Bridges’s sense of comedy are…well, ancient. To me, at least. It’s not getting the key demos excited for the show. Unless the goal was to have the parents bring in the old people, with Arnett and Mays bringing in the young. Which, so far, has worked pretty decently.

Verdict: Because it’s CBS and it’s the show after the Big Bang Theory, it’ll survive past their initial season. But the second it’s left on its own, it’ll suffer. In this case, watch the pilot. If you like, keep going. If not, just stop.

9. Almost Human

The character referred to as Almost Human is really “Kind of” Human, at best. Just like the show is kind of good.

In the setting of a far future, John (Karl Urban) has a reason for hating androids. Two year previously, a cop android abandoned John and his partner because they had a “low survival probability”. An explosion killed John’s partner and John lost his leg and was put into a 17-month coma. So upon his return to the force, he didn’t like the new rule of each human detective being designated an android (who are completely logic-based). So, the station gave John an older-version android, which has the conscious of a human being but can have issues with some human emotions. Almost Human is completely a victim of HPS, but I won’t watch past the first three episodes.

Pro: The idea that technology is advancing faster than anyone can regulate it is an interesting thought, considering that we are currently going though this issue right now on who’s regulating the advancement of technology. So it’s seeing a realistic future: villians creating technology that no one knows how to deal with. So they create androids that do all the heavy lifting and figure everything out. Dorian (Michael Early) the android adds a pretty decent chemistry with John. Also, the standalone plots have been pretty interesting: futuristic prostitution ring, hostage situation, DNA clearing, face de-recognition, drugs, the list goes on. Excluding the pilot, each episode plot has been interesting.

Con: Let me start off by saying that anytime a show is played out of order, it’s automatically a bad thing. After the pilot, FOX decided the 2nd episode to be shown would be the 5th episode in the series, and 3rd shown being the 6th episode and so on. So, not a good sign. Also, while I like the chemistry between the two main characters, the supporting cast doesn’t support well, especially Valarie Stahl (Minka Kelly from Friday Night LightsCharlie’s Angels) who adds literally nothing to the show, despite one good episode with Mackenzie Crook (who plays Rudy the technician). But most of all, the long-term plot is…nothing too great. So John’s ex-girlfriend is the leader of the worst terrorist group in the world. Meh. Just seems completely forced. NOW, if towards the end of the series, he dates said girl and at the end we find her as the boss, THAT’s a finale. But the cat’s already out of the bag. And I’m no longer interested.

Verdict: Absolutely a HPS victim, but not worth it for the long-term.

8. Michael J Fox Show

The Michael J Fox Show couldn’t stay afloat. And it’s a shame.

This is unfortunately a show that has fallen on its own sword. The Michael J Fox Show as the titled actor playing a retired star journalist (from a Parkinson disease) returning to work, and his family’s adjustments. Really, it’s a more cookie-cutter version of Modern Family.

Pro: The show is still funny. Michael’s fictional wife Annie Henry (played by Betsy Brandt, Breaking Bad as Walter White’s wife’s sister) plays a great supporter for Michael and bounces off him and the rest of the family very well. Not to mention she’s pretty funny, a great transition from a drama to a comedy. I think Michael’s Parkinson Disease integration into the show is interesting, and isn’t too noticeable once you get into the plot. People exaggerate how “offended” they were about it, and honestly I thought that Fox has done a great job making his disease as part of the show, and not a spectacle of it. Except that first episode. So they take a couple shots on their first go-round. They had to address it at some point.

Con: My problem is that it’s funny some days, not so funny other days. But its biggest problem is that it’s a copy of Modern Family. The show hits MF on the nail so hard, that you just…might as well watch Modern Family instead. If Modern Family was only about the Duffy’s, then there’d be some competition. But frankly, MF has more members and more interesting storylines. When I watch Fox’s show, I slightly feel like I’m watching a Modern Family repeat. Plus, the kids adventures aren’t remotely as interesting. So where am I going with this? This show is funny. But there’s unfortunately already another show that does it better.

Verdict: Not a HPS victim. It’s a decent-enough show and deserves three episodes. But afterwards, if you like this show, just watch Modern Family. Because it got cancelled.

7. The Goldbergs

The Goldbergs get in your face with its 80s nostalgia and modern-day jokes. But it’s pretty decent.

The Goldbergs is a single-camera comedy based on the family life during what the narrator puts as “1980-something”. Funny in its interesting sort of way.

Pros: It doesn’t take itself so seriously, which is what differs from Modern Family and Michael J Fox Show. It’s just having fun. Yes, the pilot hits you hard with the 80s nostalgia. But the issues, while light-hearted, are really nice. Of course, you have the cliche “lesson of the week”. But since we’re going to the 80s, it only makes sense to pay respects in format to Family Ties, Growing Pains, Cosby Show, etc. Plus, while this is an ensemble cast, the main focus is on Adam Goldberg, the youngest of the clan (played by Sean Giambrone). Let me tell you: this kid is going to be a huge star, if given the right roles. He honestly outshines everyone else, even star Wendi McLendon-Covey (who plays wife Beverely). Kudos does go to George Segal, who plays the interesting grandfather.

Cons: The 80s theme may seem a bit tacky for some people. Also, Barry (while played well by Troy Gentile) can get on your nerves if you don’t find him funny (although he does grow on you very well toward the mid-season). Erika is rarely, and I mean, rarely used in the beginning of the series. Also, we’re kind of stuck in the family home. It’d be nice to see the kids at the school more often.

Verdict: A victim of HPS, so give it 3 episode before you judge it. It’s pretty funny.

6. Mom

Mom brings the laughs while bringing the harsh realities of life. I call it Roseanne 2, but this time the sequel is worth the watch.

Mom is a multi-camera comedy about a recovering-alcoholic mother (Anna Farris) with major life issues has her rehabilitated mother (Allison Janney; CJ from The West Wing, Mr. Sunshine) re-enter her life of two kids (one recently pregnant), a divorced husband, and boyfriend (who is her married boss).

Pros: There’s only two guys who could pull this off: J.J. Abrams and Chuck Lorre. Thank goodness Lorre is the guy on board. The comedy is completely different from anything on TV right now. It’s definitely way more real than his other shows (Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly). However, this show resembles another show he used to do that reminds me of another serious comedy here. Anyone ever heard of a show called Roseanne? It was funny, but it hit chords that weren’t touched by television at times when it turned serious (I guess we could go as far back as All in the Family, but I’ll stay as current as I can). This is what Lorre is trying to do for this show, and he’s nailing it very well. The two kids do good acting jobs (seriously, the daughter is practically a younger Rachel McAdams), and the supporting cast does its job in supporting. Really, Faris and Janney steal the show for themselves. Honestly, you fall for the principal character. You really want her to win just once. Plus, the guest stars so far have fit in very well (Jon Cryer, Justin Long).

Cons: No matter how you do it, a show that tries to be funny with serious undertones is still awkward. We don’t mind serious issues if they’re once or twice a season. But this show can get really serious. It’s real-life. And it might not fit in our comfort zones. Also, the family is lower-income, and sitcoms rarely do well when money is a problem since…well, that’s a touchy subject (unless you’re Two Broke Girls, in which being poor is funny).

Verdict: The show does get better over time. Give it 3 episodes and see what you think. It is a HPS victim since the show improves with the funny as time rolls on.

5. Sleepy Hollow

Quality Show. Quality Character. Headless horseman. One of these things barely fits with the others.

I’m not a huge fan of this show, I’m a decent enough guy to realize a good show when you see one. Ichabad Crane (Tom Mison) is resurrected from the dead mysteriously and helps Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) solve mysterious cases in Modern-day Sleepy Hollow, one of which being the resurrected-Headless Horsemen.

Pro: Both lead actors, Mison and Beharie, are great in their roles, with good chemistry. The plots themselves are kind of interesting and fun, with a twist of Fringe, X Files, and Twin Peaks spun into a modern-day small-town police procedural. With a headless horsemen, a dead witch (who, you know, turns out to be Crane’s wife…secrets may have been kept from him…like being a witch), and various crazy mysteries. What’s not to love? Sleepy Hollow has been one of the highest-rated new dramas of the year, and FOX’s best new show of the year. For its season finale, it competed very well against The Bachelor (ABC) premiere, had a higher rating than drama vet Castle (ABC) and was only one point below the highest rated new drama The Blacklist (NBC), which is saying something. Plus, doesn’t hurt that the show has already been renewed for a second season.

Con: Well, you might not like the “too sci-fi for me” premise of it all. While the plots can be interesting to some, it may also be…a tired premise. I mean, we’ve heard the stories, seen the movies. I guess you could make that argument for many TV shows. But at the end of the day, do you want to add another one to the mix? Also, Orlando Jones is…oddly selected to play the Captain of the precinct; it’s errie and odd. Also, a great performance by John Cho…but you may not like what he turns out to be. My last reservation is that this could be like FOX’s The Following. They are similar in voice, and The Following’s second season hasn’t turned out so well.

Verdict: The show didn’t fall victim to HPS, because the pilot was very well done and has kept the momentum going. It hit its season finale recently, so you can binge watch it on Hulu now. Decent enough show, give it 3 episodes.

4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Honestly, do I even have to post a picture of this? This show has been everywhere.

This is not the first time a movie has spun off into a show. Many have failed, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks like it could be on the up-and-up. A team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents go around the globe stopping alien-like evils from materializing. I mean, there are inside stories and mysteries. But that’s the show in a nutshell. The show’s hard to explain unless you’ve watched The Avengers movie.

Pros: Clark Kellogg (Agent Coulson) is obviously great, and his team (as a whole) is actually above average. The plots, while not great, are interesting enough to keep Avenger fans through episode-to-episode. Stakes aren’t to the high levels of The Blacklist (I’ll speak on that later) on an episodic level, but I’d say more so than a regular episode of NCIS. Plus, there are so many theories with where the show is going in anticipation of the next Avengers movie (like many people do with Doctor Who, Scandal, or Pretty Little Liars), some people care a ton about what’s happening in the next episode. It’s the highest non-CBS rated show on Tuesdays for a reason. And while the middle of the season has been more of character development than anything else, the latest episodes have been putting SHIELD back on track as far as excitement. For example, FINALLY finding out how in the world Agent Coulson is still alive, and a game-changing episode on the horizon (while not being the season finale).

Cons: On an individual level, all the characters follow all the cliches. I mean, the action-packed fighters that say little with a hint of human feelings? Got them. Geeky scientists that are witty and funny? Sorry, legendary scientists? Double got them. Lead character with a mysterious past? Check them all, buddy. Yes, while the show can be fun, it’s also nothing new at all. Which, again, was my exact problem with The Avengers. Was it fun? Heck yes. Was it anything innovative? Heck no.

Verdict: Personally, I thought the pilot had Horrible Pilot Syndrome (HPS). By itself, the episode wasn’t terrible; but the show was so over-hyped that it was kind of disappointed. But if you can get past the hype and the initial two episodes, you can finally get into this series.

3. The Crazy Ones

While this is the second best new comedy in my opinion, The Crazy Ones easily has the best chemistry of all the new shows this year.

I tend to go back and forth on this show a lot. The Crazy Ones stars Robin Williams as the head of a very successful advertising agency with his daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who leads her team of creatives. The show’s pilot is a good representation of the show itself, and it’s very funny.

Pros: So, I watch anything that has David E. Kelley attached to it. The show’s executive-producer has produced shows like Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal. Robin Williams…I mean, should I even say anything? He’s brilliant, and Sarah Michelle Gellar is actually really great as the straight man while adding great comedy elements herself. James Wolf and Hamish Linklater play their characters perfectly, and the supporting cast does such a great job, they deserve to be leading characters themselves. Seriously, one of the best chemistry I’ve seen on screen in a long time, which is what David E. Kelley is known for.

Cons: While it’s good, it’s very episodic. Where’s the overall arc here? Sometimes, the show does go too far where it gets uncomfortable. But that’s where Robin Williams eats so…maybe that’s a pro instead of a con. There’s no deep burning desire for me to watch each episode. I can pass 12 episodes, come back, and get right back into it. Yes, this is great for syndication (and binge-watching), but not so great for live presentations. So the fresh-ness of the show is slightly stale. But the top questions is: how long will Robin Williams do a show like this?

Verdict: Every episode is funny. So you should watch this show when you have nothing else to do. It is the second best new comedy behind…

2. Brooklyn 9-9

Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Top New Comedy of the Year. Golden Globes-approved.

Andy Sandberg stars as Detective Jake Peralta who’s lead detective in a Brooklyn precinct. Where’s the funny? All the characters are messed up, the crimes are ridiculous, and everything else is hilarious.

Pros: Since the first time I watched Modern Family, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an ensemble cast that worked this well and had great chemistry. Rosa (played greatly by Stephanie Beatriz) and Santiago (played greatly as well by Melissa Fumero) can easily take 2nd best female comedy companions (behind the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler pair). Terry Crew and Joe Lo Truglio (who plays Boyle) round off well. And obviously, Andre Braugher (The Captain) plays a great straight with some great funny jabs. It’s very well done. Definitely well, well done.

Cons: This show can become over-hyped. I get it. It’s funny. I love the show. But it’s just been half of a season so far. Let’s not over hype it now. It deserves to have a spot right next to New Girl. But let’s calm it down. Also, Andy Samberg’s appeal may pigeon-hole the show, since some people may not like his style of comedy. Which hurts, considering the show does have a variety of comedy that everyone could like.

Verdict: The show is very funny, and the pilot is a great representation of the show. While episodic, the show still grows on its characters. Best new comedy (But…again, let’s calm down. I can name 3 better comedies than this show).

1. The Blacklist (NBC)

I admit: it’s a fresher version of NCIS. But it’s way better. And way more interesting.

An international criminal Raymond Reddington purposely gets caught by the FBI to help them find the world’s most deadliest criminals the FBI have never even heard of, all on a list known as The Blacklist; but only under the conditions of working alone with one person: first-day rookie profiler Elizabeth Keen.

Pros: I’ve heard that it’s similar to Silence of the Lambs and CBS’s NCIS, but who cares? The show is spot on fantastic. It has the key component that not many shows have since CSI: It. Is. So. Much. Fun. Megan Boone (Law & Order: LA…if anyone remembers that one-season show) plays Agent Keen so well, it hurts. She owns every scene, and the mystery surrounding her husband and father are so “long-story arc” interesting that the small pieces we learn along the way makes it even more interesting. There are tons of moving parts, but the “catch-a-person per week” stories are just as captivating. But the marvel of it all, besides the FBI team, is Red Reddington (James Spader; who has an insane amount of roles, starring in The Practice, Boston Legal, guest-starred in The Office, will be in the Avengers 2 movie). We never know about Red’s mysterious life, and we aren’t sure of his intentions. But the entire ride is completely and utterly fun. The directing is perfect, and acting is on point. I’m very serious: I’m putting Megan Boone up as a high consideration for next year’s Emmy for Best Leading Actress. And the obvious: The Blacklist should easily win Best New Show.

Cons: The supporting cast were kind of dry until the mid-season finale (and since have actually done great things…and incredibly surprising things). Also, if I had to poke more holes in this, while its ratings have been record-breaking for NBC and DVR watches (within same day, 3 days, and 7 days), it may start feeling like there’s no urgency to watch the show when it comes out. It’s like the show everyone’s talking about it, but they’re waiting until the weekend to watch it. Another poked-hole: some people can get lost in this show. There may be too many moving parts that some parts are less intriguing than others, and can make the show feel like their just delaying for the sake of increasing an episode count.

Verdict: I think the show’s best episode was its pilot. Or maybe it’s mid-season finale. Either way, the show deserves a 4-season renewal, instead of the one it got earlier this year.

1 comment on “The Rule of Three: New Show Reviews (2013)

  1. NO NO NO! ALMOST HUMAN IS SO GOOD! I started out really disliking Detective Stahl, but her role in the show has increased a lot and it’s gotten SO MUCH BETTER. There’s also the plot mystery about what made the DRNs go nuts, and after the first three episodes there’s a new cliffhanger with something called “the wall.” We see a known bad guy (who created the DRNs before he was bad!) go over it, but we don’t know what’s on the other side. I think it’s actually my second-favorite show on TV right now (after Big Bang Theory).

    I stopped watching the Avengers before the break. Sounds like I should pick it up again?

    I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, too! It and Almost Human were the shows I recommended to my parents (they already watch the Blacklist).

    Jon’s new obsession is Criminal Minds. Do you think he’d like the Blacklist? You said something about a profiler in the description, so I’m curious.

    Intelligence must have come out too soon to be included in this list. The pilot didn’t grab me, so I’ve been considering watching the rest but I don’t want it to be a waste of time.

    This is amazing. You should do these reviews all the time.

    Like

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