Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall TV 2013 Pilot Reviews: The Up, Downers and In-Betweens

Why hello, and welcome back to our Fall TV 2013 Premiere Reviews series. Sorry for being a week late with this, I decided to postpone a week to wait for NBC's Dracula to premiere and that way I could review all the October premieres at once. I hope you don't mind. And I also did the same review in my last week, and I plan on doing with every post from now on, so if you want to read the same thing in a different address -- because why not, change it up a little -- do check out my Squidoo too. :-) Anyway, there were five new shows that premiered this month that I happened to watch and well, let's just say so far Fall 2013 has not improved at all. It's a little sad that every year networks just can't seem to do it right, but what can you do, eh? Let's just be thankful that there are still great shows out there - they're just few and far between. Now, let's look at the up, the downers and the in-betweens of this month's new shows and who knows, maybe with time and patience they'll improve and become our new favorites.



You gotta hand it to The CW. Just because they're the underdog doesn't mean they don't dare to try new things. Every year they seem to be giving something new a try. Last year, they dipped their toes in the crime procedural (with a twist!) genre with Beauty and The Beast, which gave them a moderate hit (by The CW's standard, of course), and in the serial killing cult genre with Cult, which failed miserably. This year, they decided to go a different route - a historical one at that - with Reign, a drama that, save for the young cast, feels a little out of place in the network that was once home for privileged teens with too much money and too little inhibitions. Or is it? I guess in a way, Reign is also about privileged teens with too much money and too little inhibitions, but since it's based on a real, historical person, at a glance it really does feel different from anything else on The CW. Reign follows the young Mary Queen of Scots, as she arrives in the French court following an assassination attempt, waiting for Francis, the dauphin, to marry her while she gets distracted by his hot (and apparently, entirely fictional) half-brother Sebastian in the process. The Tudors it is not. Instead, it feels more like Gossip Girl if Gossip Girl were set in the French court in the 16th century. It's easier to accept that way: Mary Queen of Scots is Blair Waldorf, her betrothed Francis is Nate Archibald (think Gossip Girl season 1), and his sexy half-brother Sebastian is Chuck Bass. Mary even wears headbands like Blair did. And really, considering the network it's on, I don't mind it being 16th Century Gossip Girl. Reign is never going to be that historical drama that sheds some light on a fascinating historical figure, but if done correctly, it could be strangely addictive.



After the success of Arrow last year, it's no surprise that this year The CW decided to take on the superhero genre again, this time around by adapting a popular British sci-fi show The Tomorrow People for the American audience. But, let's face it, adaptations are tricky. If you stay too faithful to the original, you're just creating a lamer version of it, really, and if you stray too far from the original, why bother adapting it in the first place? Even the most successful ones, like the US version of The Office, had a rough start and only got better when they did their own thing that mostly had nothing to do with the original. So with that in mind, I didn't have a lot of expectations going in, and to the credit of the people behind The Tomorrow People, it didn't really disappoint. Look, I'm not saying that this is a great show and a must watch, but all things considered, it's not that bad. Mark Pellegrino is the saving grace of this teen sci-fi drama. The guy knows how to play a villain, and he's game for anything. But sometimes I feel like freeing him from this show and getting him onto a show like Justified or Mad Men instead, where his talents will be matched with the writing. It also seems a crime that he has to act opposite the wooden Robbie Amell, who somehow translates "emotions" as "squinting a lot". But he's buffed and has the Amell genes that somehow make him teen-magnet, so I can see why he's cast as the lead here, even though I don't think he deserves it. I'd much prefer to see Luke Mitchell get all the attention, because he backs up his beauty with acting chops, and it's kind of frustrating to see him playing second fiddle to the less-capable Amell. But you know, all things considered, there are worse shows out there and if you're looking for another superhero show to fill your DVR slot this year, you might grow to like, if not love, this one with time.


When I was a child, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass was my favorite book. I'd read it over and over and over again. I just loved how trippy and fantastical it was. So as an adult, I would watch any adaptation of the children's classic, from the classic Disney cartoon to Tim Burton's weird take on it. When ABC announced it was picking up Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, a spin-off of their hit Disney drama Once Upon A Time, I thought, "Hey, Once Upon A Time turned out to be pretty great, so maybe this won't be so bad." And then I watched the trailer and was disappointed at how not great it seemed. However, trailers don't always do a show justice, right? So I decided not to make any judgment until I actually watched the show... and I'm sad to report that, well, in the case of Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, the trailer totally did it justice. I don't really know what went wrong. The same team of people who worked on Once Upon A Time worked on this spin off. It also had the same style of mixing a few Disney tales in one: sure, it's set in Wonderland and its lead character is Alice, but in this iteration Alice falls in love with a genie, who is always on the run from Jaffar (from Aladdin) who has a crazy evil plan for him. It sounds good on paper, but the execution is a whole different story. Maybe it's because somehow I just can't get invested on Alice's love story with Cyrus the genie, which is problematic since it's supposed to be the backbone of this show. The chemistry between Sophie Lowe, who plays Alice, and Peter Gadiot, who plays Cyrus, is just so tepid. Lowe has a better chemistry with Michael Socha, who plays Knave, the guy who The White Rabbit enlists to help bring Alice back to Wonderland, but at least in the first two episodes he isn't the love interest you're supposed to be rooting for. The show makes it clear that they plan on developing this sort of love triangle between Alice and the two men in her life, but even after two episodes, I can't care about either of them. But, the good news is, ABC only plans on a 13-episode season for this show (and considering the ratings, there may not be a second season), so the show is going to build up towards something soon - and that something could very well be winning us over in the end. One can hope, right?



When NBC announced they were resurrecting Dracula with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers playing the bloodsucking title character, I was actually excited. I love Bram Stoker's Dracula. I like my vampires old school, man. Sure I enjoyed True Blood (at least the first three seasons), and I'm still very much into The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off The Originals (especially the latter these days, the last episode was absolutely riveting), but I do miss old school vampires, you know, the ones who are seductive and sociopathic and ruthless - not complicated, angst-y and brooding (as well as prone to long, overwrought love triangles) like these new breed of vampires taking over pop culture lately. So I was looking forward to this show, thinking that Dracula would be the awe-inspiring, seductive, creepy, ruthless sociopath who could eat the entire Cullen clan for breakfast. And about seventeen minutes into the pilot, my hopes and dreams were completely shattered. Not only is this Dracula complicated, angst-y and brooding - he is also posing as an American (for seemingly no reason?) and -- here's the kicker -- an alternative energy tycoon. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. This Dracula aims to reduce your carbon footprint and look good doing it. WHAT?! Come on! Someone tweeted (I forgot who, it was a retweet from one of the people I follow, sorry for not being able to credit properly) that we want an evil vampire not an idealist liberal and I was like, "Amen, sista". And guess who Dracula is fighting against: yes, big corporations and big oil - all those who make up "The Order of The Dragon", who used to be all murdering and raping and pillaging but has moved on to controlling business, politics and oil. And how does he plan on fighting this secret society of the 1%? By creating an army of vampires and kill every last one of them? Nope. He teams up with a vindictive Van Helsing and they both decide to fight evil through politics or alternative energy or whatever I don't even give a flying crap. Every single vampire in The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and True Blood and, god I hate to say it, even Twilight can -- and probably should -- beat the crap out of this new Dracula. We already have a show where the main character poses to be a billionaire to try to infiltrate a powerful big money secret society - that show is called Revenge. If you want to resurrect the most iconic vampire of all time, why oh why do you decide to turn him into a male Emily Thorne? I'm just baffled. And sorely disappointed. What a wasted opportunity. In conclusion: go out and have fun Friday night. Don't waste your time with this one.


You all know by now how much I love supernatural shows. I do. It's my guiltiest guilty pleasure. I watch them all, I just can't help myself. You give me vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, I am so there. I don't care that they're campy. I watch them for the camp. I appreciate the macabre. And now that Halloween is just a few weeks away, I am even more in the mood for the supernaturals. But that doesn't mean I'd just watch anything supernatural without paying any mind to quality. Just because I love the camp-y-ness of it all, doesn't mean I will not expect good storytelling and decent acting. Which is why I just cannot enjoy Lifetime's latest offering in the genre, Witches of East End. Sure, it's campy, which I appreciate, but that's about the only good thing about it. The pilot didn't grab me at all. The actors (including veterans Julia Ormond and Virginia Madsen) seemed to be phoning in their performances, with Jenna Dewan-Tatum being the guiltiest of them all. The low-rent production value reminds me of Charmed, a witchy show I used to love (and may be resurrected soon, actually), but somehow in this show it bothers because hey, it's 2013. I know the budget for a show on Lifetime isn't that big but surely you can do better than Buffy-esque monster make up? Netflix's Hemlock Grove isn't a beacon of quality but at least that show takes their special effects seriously. What you lack in good storytelling and acting, you probably can make up in special effects. At least give us something to talk about! But no, this show just decides to be a disappointment all around. And what's worse is that it premiered only about a week (if not on the same week, I can't remember) from American Horror Story: Coven, which is also about witches but is just way, waaay more awesome. So really, if witches are your thing - go to FX instead. Ryan Murphy & co knows how to satisfy and horrify you way more than the guys behind this snoozefest.

And that's it from me for now. I'll be back next month with my reviews of Fox's Almost Human, TBS' Ground Floor and HBO's Getting On. In the meantime maybe I'll come back discussing a few of my favorites from this year's Fall TV, I'll keep you posted via . Oh and don't forget the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special: Day of The Doctor will premiere on November 23, so I'll be back around then to post my very special recap. Until then, have a great weekend everyone!


Binky B.
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