My Thoughts on Some of the New TV Pilots

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  • My Thoughts on Some of the New TV Pilots

    Before I start, I have a bias towards things with a sci-fi or supernatural element, and I generally avoid comedies.

    Here are the shows I have seen so far:

    Z Nation: (6/10)

    Not bad. It could have been alternatively titled the Running Dead, because the only real difference is that the zombies are faster. Other than that, it's mostly scattered groups of survivors trying to survive against a zombie apocalypse.

    It seems like it's a little more plot-driven (and less character-driven) than Walking Dead, and the characters have a goal instead of the aimlessness that pervades WD. However, it's walking on some very familiar ground, and there isn't a lot of new ground to break, that WD hasn't already covered.

    Main Challenge: Is there enough appetite for people to watch two zombie shows that are remarkably similar?

    Solution: Make the zombies develop intelligence overtime to really differentiate it from that other show.

    Prediction: It's decently well done, and well-acted, and I suspect it's low-budget because it's on Scy-Fy, so I could see it sticking around for a few years.

    Scorpion: (9/10)

    This is a procedural, that starts with a problem at the beginning, has a few twists and turns, and then wraps up nicely at the end, with just a hint of an ongoing storyline.

    Despite that, it's very well done, and for those that can sit through the various medical, legal, and cop procedurals, this one is refreshingly different. The concept is a bunch of misfit super geniuses are recruited by the government to solve big time-sensitive problems. The characters are well-drawn if a little formulaic. Each comes with one specialty, and exactly one problem.

    Main Challenge: They need to find ways to make the science high-brow enough to make these guys needed, but low-brow enough that the regular audience can follow along.

    Solution: Have one of the geniuses be a genius in celebrity gossip and reality shows, instead of all this math/science stuff. (Ok, just kidding).

    Prediction: Full season pickup and early renewal. I think Scorpion will be this season's Black List.

    How to Get Away with Murder: (10/10)

    This is a tense thriller. Top notch from start to finish, with several likeable characters, and some unlikable but intriguing ones. The plot itself is a giant mystery of how these nice kids end up in that situation.
    The pilot left us with a serious cliffhanger, and hopefully there is more of that to come. In addition, there's enough keen legal research that it has the credibility to make the audience think they're learning something.

    Main Challenge:It's credible when four keen law-school students get embroilled in a murder the first time. But what happens in Season 2?

    Solution: Have a revolving cast of law students, but keep the professor constant with a bigger conspiracy.

    Prediction: Success and eventual syndication.

    Forever: (5/10)

    It's a pleasant enough show and I love Judd Hirsch ever since the brilliantly underrated Running on Empty. The concept is that a medical examiner can't die, and is obsessed with death as a result.

    While the show has possibilities, it seems like they're trying to make the protagonist an immortal Sherlock. That, in itself, wouldn't be so bad, but some of the logical leaps he makes in his deductive reasoning are absurd.

    It's a pleasant enough show to watch as a combination of Sherlock/CSI with a touch of the supernatural thrown in, but it needs some better writing and they need to give us more of an overarching plot than they have so far.

    Main Challenge:The show doesn't seem to have any idea what they're going to do for a season-long arc, or at least they haven't revealed it in the first three episodes. The person we assume to be the antagonist hasn't done anything, and doesn't seem to be at odds with the protagonist.

    Solution: Bring in some new writers and map out the season long-arc ASAP!

    Prediction: It will survive this season, and eke out a second before it gets pulled.

    Gotham: (6/10)

    The pilot was better than I thought, with some nice little mysteries that were built up. But after seeing the second episode it seems clear that they have no idea where to take the show.

    They're extremely limited in that they can't let Bruce grow up, and they can't kill off any of the supervillains. So the only character "in play" is Fish Mooney. It seems that this is basically going to be a detective show with a Gotham city backdrop, and a token 5 minutes per show of Bruce Wayne.

    They're banking on the fact that TV viewers are so starved for superheroes that even Commissioner Gordon and a few second-rate villains will be enough to keep us coming back for more. And they might be right if the success of the atrocious SHIELD is any indication.

    Main Challenge: They need to find a way to have an interesting ongoing plotline while not letting anything significant happen to any of the main characters.

    Solution:Bring in a likeable character previously unknown to the DC Universe, that is 'at risk' of being killed.

    Prediction: After a reasonable first season, it will gradually lose viewers until it gets pulled half-way through the third season.

    The Strain: 8/10

    Just when you think you don't have time for another vampire show, this comes out and makes you change your mind. Vampires are scary again and this show takes a realistic approach to vampires, and how the CDC would act if they hit New York.

    After an incredible pilot, the series has started to stagnate. The setup is awesome, but it feels like it should have been a miniseries instead of a 23-episode season. The show doesn't seem to know where it wants to go, and it can only do the 'I am sad because I have to kill my wife/child/mother/father' so many times before it gets stale. There are too many shows where the show basically ends with the characters in the exact same position as when the show started.

    Main Challenge: Finding intermediate goals for the protagonists.

    Solution: We need some active third parties involved. So far, it's really just Ephraim's little group and the vampires. Show us the police perspective, or some other aspects of the vampire threat - not just our ragtag band of fugitives keeping one step ahead of the vampires.

    Prediction: Given that it's already been picked up for Season 2, it should have some staying power, and go on for several seasons.

    Madam Secretary (6/10):

    It seemed promising. Rather than go for President like the ill-fated Geena Davis' Commander in Chief, they chose to show the Secretary of State, which is something new.

    The problem with this show is that it's the Tea Leoni show. She never does anything wrong. She's perfect. Every decision that she makes is the right one even though it goes against what everyone tells her.

    She has a husband that could easily be replaced by a lamp, kids that could be replaced by wall paintings, and various advisors who clearly identify as friend or foe in the first five minutes.

    Main Challenge: Making her more 'real' and less of a superhero.

    Solution: Have her make some mistakes early on, and have her hang on to her job by a thread while others lobby to have her removed.

    Prediction: This feels a lot more like Commander in Chief than it does West Wing. C in C had a great start, before fizzling and getting cancelled in the first season. I think MS will do the same, but will manage to hold out for a full season, before not getting renewed.

    Stalker 8/10

    Solid Show. It's an action bordering on horror. There's a few complex characters that keep you guessing, and some good conflict/synergy between the two main leads. One thing that it's great at is showing you the perspective of the stalking victim and the fear that they go through. Eye-opening to those who aren't familiar with stalking. Not sure how long they can keep that stream of information up though.
    Once they run out of info to give us, it's going to just be another detective show.

    It wraps up nicely, but has a lot of loose threads that will bring you back for the next episode. Hard to tell if these are going to be season long arcs or just a couple of episodes, but interesting.

    The male character is a little too stupid when it comes to male privilege, and the mindset of stalkers/rapists. At one point he asks his female character: "Why would you wear attractive clothes, if you don't want men to notice you?" I mean, this is a stupid thing for any man to say, let alone someone assigned to the stalker division of the LAPD. I mean, really?

    Main Challenge: The writers obviously want this show to educate as much as entertain, and it comes off as preachy, and insulting at times.

    Solution: Tone down the preaching during the show, and advocate education awareness through multimedia, social media, and actor interviews.

    Prediction: Should be good for a full season, but will fizzle out near the end of season one.
    Last edited by jariax; 10-02-2014, 10:30 AM.

  • #2
    Re: My Thoughts on Some of the New TV Pilots

    I liked the premise and cast of Forever but it has a terrible case of network.

    I thought that How to Get Away With Murder was boring. Everybody was a poorly executed archetype and the plot wasn't any better. There weren't any real twists, just melodrama.

    The only show I plan to continue watching, so far, was Black-ish. Black-ish has something to say and seems to use the first-person single-camera format well.

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    • #3
      Re: My Thoughts on Some of the New TV Pilots

      Z Nation

      Caught the first three episodes 'cus I love me some zombies.

      It's The Asylum doing what the Asylum does, in this case, copying The Walking Dead.

      My solution: Get away from abandoned gas stations and spooky forests and into territory and situations we haven't already seen on The Walking Dead and countless other bad zombie movies.

      My prediction: The red-headed step-child of The Walking Dead. It's unlikely Z Nation will crossover and draw much of an audience beyond horror and zombie fans. At best, Z Nation survives 2 seasons before it's undead.
      Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

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