Spring TV Roundup

Week 2

Spring has sprung. In Colorado, that means consecutive snow storms. Good thing we have plenty of TV to keep us going. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted shows this Spring. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check Previous Weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Imaginary Mary, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered March 29)
: ABC family comedies aren’t my favorite, but it’s undeniable that they’ve found a niche and they’ve built a following. Shows like “Blackish,” “Modern Family,” and “The Goldbergs” fill a specific role, and ABC has done a good job of expanding that brand. That’s what makes “Imaginary Mary,” which got a preview last Wednesday in front of “Modern Family” before moving to its Tuesday home tonight, so confounding. It wants to fit in that family comedy niche. But it doesn’t work. It is about a woman who used an imaginary friend to get through her socially awkward phase. Now a confident, successful adult of a certain age, she’s in a relationship that has her out of her depth with a man that has three kids. And, wham, imaginary friend is back to help guide the process. While I like the natural charm of Jenna Elfman, this concept is beyond stupid. And even good performances can’t overcome the concept. I thought the pilot was painful at times, and feels like a stretch for the ABC brand.
Pilot Grade: C-

Rebel, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET (Premiered March 28)
: This is the latest scripted series from BET. It is about a cop whose brother is killed in a police shooting. She later becomes a PI, but still tries to work to change a racist and unfair system. The pilot and second episode, which aired in a block last Tuesday, were directed by John Singleton. And the show wants to have a relevant political commentary. Unfortunately, it’s let down by a premise that stretches credulity and production issues. I didn’t particularly care for the cast or the character choices, and I thought the pilot was odd. This feels like a show with lofty aspirations that plays out more like an unintentional comedy.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: C-

Wednesday Nights:
Shots Fired, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered March 22)
This is the latest event series from FOX, one that also centers on a police shooting and the aftermath. It has a good cast and lofty aspirations, but I wasn’t sold on the flow of the pilot, which spent too much time on the investigators personal lives. That’s OK, but these stories weren’t particularly compelling. I thought the second episode did a better job of focusing the narrative and advancing the story. It’s still not quite right, nor is it as good as I think it has the potential to be, but the show might be on the right track. This is one that deserves a little grace to see where it’s going.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C

Nobodies, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land (Premiered March 29)
: This latest TV Land sitcom comes from producer Melissa McCarthy, and features a trio of her friends from the Groundlings, Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, Rachel Ramras, playing versions of themselves. They’re struggling writers looking to land a project in the tough Hollywood landscape. The first episode featured cameos from better known celebrities and inside industry jokes, and the pattern for the series appears to be more of the same. The trio of stars are OK, but the pilot was disjointed and not overly compelling. This might be the kind of comedy that varies greatly based on the celebrity cameo, which isn’t a formula for success.
Pilot Grade: C-

Streaming Series:
Harlots, New Episodes Stream on Wednesdays on Hulu (Premiered March 29)
This latest series, a co-production with the BBC, centers on working women in England in the 18th Century. The cast is headed by Samantha Morton, Leslie Manneville and Jessica Brown Findlay (“Downton Abbey”), and was a mixture of family drama and more risque elements during the pilot hour. I didn’t find the characters or the world particularly compelling, and I thought at times the pilot tried to push the shock value of the material a bit too much at times. There is good talent here, but I didn’t feel like a compelling narrative developed in the pilot. Perhaps it will find its way in subsequent episodes.
Pilot Grade: C-

13 Reasons Why, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 31)
This is the latest original series from Netflix, and was based on the book from Jay Asher. It centers on a high school teen (Dylan Minnette) who comes home to find a set of tapes from a classmate, Hannah (Katherine Langford), detailing why she chose to end her life. Each of the 13 tapes points to another reason, and each episode pulls the viewer deeper into the twisted web. I thought this series had an incredibly engaging pilot, and followed that up in the subsequent episodes. I’ve watch six of the 13 episodes and I’m still drawn to the characters and the story, though it is a subject matter that can be hard to watch. Minnette and Langford are great in the lead roles, and their performances really draw you into the story. The supporting cast, which includes adult actors Kate Walsh, Derek Luke and Amy Hargraves are also good. This is a well crafted and timely series, as teen suicide seems to be an epidemic. Through the first few episodes this series doesn’t offer any easy answers, but it does raise questions about bullying and friendship that can be good talking points.
Pilot Grade: A-
Second Episode: B+

Matthew Fox is an avowed media junkie. Follow him on Twitter at Knighthawk7734. You can find more of his original content on the Fantasy Life Blog or on his Personal Blog.

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