2015 WINTER TV ROUNDUP

There is still time to catch up on some new winter TV


Spring is almost upon us and I've been trying to watch all the new winter shows, but I am only one woman and there are a LOT of TV shows. In any case, that's why streaming was invented.

So here are delayed reactions to the new shows:

BLOODLINE


NETFLIX ANYTIME

And with this belated review I wrap up my “WINTER TV ROUNDUP” [yes I am aware that it is already spring… but doesn’t really feel like it in the UK!]

Premise: Big family. Big dark secret.

Verdict: Good drama with a twist

I just watched the first episode of Bloodline, so this are truly my “1st impressions”. At first glance Bloodline looks like a Brothers & Sisters/ Parenthood type drama about a family of adult siblings. However, that is not the case. There is a twist. Through flashforwards we get bits and pieces that tell us something terrible is about to happen [that may or may not end in fratricide]. It’s all very exciting!

I had no previous knowledge of this show other than the fact that Kyle Chandler [whom I heart] was on it. However, while I was watching I kept thinking I had seen it before. I finally concluded that Bloodline had the exact tone and structure of Damages. An IMDB check revealed that indeed it was created, written and produced by the same team [Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman].

Suddenly it all made sense. Just like Damages was more of a thriller than a lawyer show, Bloodline is a thriller/family drama which is an unusual and intriguing combination.

Writing is solid, premise is gripping and the cast is top notch. Can’t wait to watch more.


Should you watch it? Yes. That’s it. I am just hoping they can keep the momentum for more than 2 seasons [unlike Damages].By the way, this show was already picked up for a second season.

BATTLE CREEK


CBS SUNDAYS 10PM

I almost didn’t write a review after watching this show because I was afraid it could get cancelled before I even had the chance to post it. But… I’ve watched it [late but better than never] so here is what I thought:

Premise: A hot shot FBI agent moves to a small town to put order in their police department. In other words: It’s a cop show [a CBS cop show].

Verdict: I kind of liked it, which means CBS is most certainly going to cancel it [It happened with Golden Boy, Intelligence and more. I am surprised Person of Interest is still on].

I watched this against my better judgement because 1) I don’t usually watch cop shows [especially if they are on CBS] and 2) The ratings have been awful [by CBS standards] so this is going to get axed [98% sure of that]. However… I like Dean Winters. I really really like Dean Winters. Loved him on Terminator and 30 Rock and don’t tell me those AllState Mayham commercials are not funny.

But for the people who don’t share my love for Dean Winters, let’s talk about Battlecreek. I thought it was a pretty solid cop show. It has a lot of humour, it has a fun odd pair, good dialogue, interesting cases, good cast. It reminded me of the other quirky detective new show this year Backstrom [which is also headed for cancellation-ville]Unfortunately… at the end of the day it is a franchise-free cop show and those have a tough life on CBS [maybe they should have tried working ‘CSI’ in the title].


Should you watch it? Not really. Only watch it if you are a fan of Josh Duhamel and/or Dean Winters… or that dude from House. But if you decide to watch it do with the knowledge that it will most likely be over soon. But I am being a terrible downer! Maybe you will love this show, maybe it will get moved to summer and become the new Unforgettable! Anything is possible nowadays…

ONE BIG HAPPY

[I know is not even technically winter anymore, but I just got a chance to watch this]

NBC TUESDAYS 9:30PM

Premise: A lesbian and her male best friend agree to have a baby together if neither is married by the time they are 30. It’s basically My Best Friend’s Wedding meets Will & Grace. It all goes according to plan until the leading man meets a lovable alien [as in foreign] girl, falls in love and green-card marries her. So it turns out into a show about “A guy, a lesbian, a British girl and a baby” A.K.A. “One Big Happy” [slightly dysfunctional family]. 

Verdict: Yeah… I could get into this.

One Big Happy has a great premise for a comedy show. The writing was not groundbreakingly edgy, but overall it was quite funny, plus Ellen DeGeneres is producing it, which is always a good thing. Overall, I quite enjoyed it, but… I am not sure about the casting decisions. Nick Zano is perfect for the role of a manly-yet-sweet 30 something guy and new British face Kelly Brook was very likable and funny. However… Elisha Cuthbert… not my favourite. I don’t think she is a terrible actress [I don’t think she is awesome either. I liked her a lot in her Popular Mechanic for kids days if that counts for anything… Probably not…], but I don’t understand why she keeps getting cast in comedies [with the word ‘happy’ in the title]. She is not the funniest person in showbiz by far. She paled in comparison to everyone on Happy Endings and I think it is happening again. Or maybe she has some sort of comedic energy that I just don’t get…

Having said that, I don’t dislike Elisha to the point of not wanting to watch because of her. But… I think the show could be so much better with a genuinely funny leading lady.

Should you watch it? Yes, at least give it a go.

iZombie

THE CW TUESDAYS 9PM

Premise: A young doctor in training is turned into a Zombie who has visions every time she eats brains. Logically she becomes an M.E. and teams up with a cop to fight crime. It’s so crazy, it is cool.

Verdict: Since Mark Pedowitz already renewed my favourite CW show, I no longer have conflicting emotions about this show and I can come clean and say that… I kinda love it.

You know how Alias was born out of a joke inside the Felicity’s writing room: “What if Felicity joined the CIA and became a spy?” Well… iZombie feels as if Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero went “What if Veronica Mars was turned into a zombie?”

iZombie’s Liv feels a lot like Veronica. She has the above average intelligence, the quick wit, the outcast vibe and a hunger for justice [and brains… she differs from Veronica there]. Being reminiscent of Veronica Mars is hardly a bad thing and I have to say… I wasn’t sure Rose McIvern had the ability of Kristen Bell to deliver Rob Thomas’s sardonic remarks, but she did a damn good job and probably the best ever delivery of the line “…ish” [It almost felt like Rose studied Kristen’s diction because she sounded so much like her]. Other favourite lines include: “What else am I going to do? Subdue him with a good verbal flogging?” and “Maybe cops should Google more”

The nature of the show allows a procedural element. Liv pretends to be a psychic and teams up with a Rookie detective, Clive Babineaux, and together they solve crimes. “Cagney and Pastey” as Clive puts it. So you have your mystery of the week and the serialized tension of Liv’s undead young adult life; plus an endless supply of punchy one-liners. Throw in an Alias/Heroes alum (David Anders) as a baddie and you’ve just created a show I can love.

The only criticism I can see coming for the show is that it is not “zombie” enough, not gory enough. I understand that fans of gore may be disappointed… however I think we have to see it for what it is: “A female-driven supernatural procedural dramedy”.

This show will be more in the vein of Veronica Mars [and even Buffy, as some have been pointing out] than The Walking Dead, that is for sure.
  
Should you watch it? Please do, the CW already renewed all the line-up [not complaining about all… but I am about some] and I would hate to think this show was dead on arrival [no pun intended]. Judging by the ratings this seems to be more of a hit than other lauded shows on the CW…



UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT


NETFLIX ANYTIME

Premise: After spending over a decade in a doomsday cult, a girl is finally rescued and is determined to not let NY “break her” [Hey… it’s a comedy]

Verdict: Tina Fey is my “reverend”…

Full disclosure. I love Tina Fey. Like I really love Tina Fey… So I was predisposed to love this show [better than being predisposed to hate something I guess]. And after watching almost all the episodes in less than a week, I can conclude that indeed I love it.


Kimmy felt like a breath of fresh air after all the new comedies I’ve seen this year that range from unexciting (Selfie) to flat-out awful (The Odd Couple). I love Ellie Kemper since her days in The Office and she is a wonderful choice to play the na├»ve, yet courageous leading character. Much like Tina’s previous show, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy has that quintessential New Yorker feel and she manages to balance just the right amount of cynicism and heart.


Should you watch it? OK… I am going to be honest. This type of comedy is not for everyone. You have to be able to handle a high level of quirk and be ready to follow all the TV/movie/pop-culture references. So if more traditional comedy in the vein of The Big Bang Theory is your thing, it’s possible you may not like this [but I’d still suggest you try it]. On the contrary, if you loved 30 Rock and other kookie comedies like Arrested Development, Community and Episodes… Unbreakable Kimmy is definitely for you! And you will be rewarded with plenty of 90s pop culture references and awesome guest stars like Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris [an acting coach who teaches gay guys to “straight it up”] and wait until you see who plays the Cult leader! 

THE ODD COUPLE



CBS THURSDAYS 8:30 

Premise: Two guys living together, they are complete opposites, comedy ensues [or it is supposed to ensue]

Verdict: Release Yvette so she can go back to Community!

Matthew Perry is funny, all right? We already knew that… Wendell Pierce, Yvette Nicole Brown, Dave Foley and Leslie Bibb? Also funny. The show however? Not the greatest comedy by far… This must be some sort of record for a sitcom… I watched the entire pilot and didn’t laugh out loud once. I smiled on a few occasions, but just because the actors had good deliveries. And yes… in a comedy, the cast can make it or break it. But at some point you need good material. The Odd Couple felt very dated [it IS a remake after all] and the jokes were average at best.

Yes… there is a chance, as with many comedies, this may grow on me when it finds its tone… but I am not sure I want to spend more time watching it [there is so much on TV already]. Ironically, ratings didn’t suck. You may say this is about Matthew Perry… but I can think of a few of his post-Friends projects that flopped, even though they were much better [Go On, Studio 60 e.g.]


Should you watch it? I’d say no, unless you are a huge fan of one or several cast members.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT


ABC TUESDAY 8/7c

Premise: An Asian family moves to Orlando to run a restaurant.

Verdict: It’s OK… especially compared to the other new comedies that came out this year.

I am a little unsure on how to review this show. I really can’t tell how offensive it is. It is a thin line to cross and I am not sure they are funny enough to get away with all the stereotyping… So, what I am going to do is distance myself from the “minority portrayal” issue. Let’s forget this show is about an Asian family and think about it just as a family show. When I look at it from that point of view, there is some sweetness to it. A family trying to honor their culture while surviving in a strange and often confusing land. This may not be the greatest comedy ever made but the show did make me laugh [the leading actress Constance Wu is really funny].

I guess what I am saying is that Fresh off the boat is watchable and has some amount of charm… but it does rely on stereotypes. Overall I enjoyed it more than many other new comedies I’ve seen this year [Selfie, The Odd Couple e.g.]

Should you watch it? I don’t feel confident enough to recommend it, but I wouldn’t judge you for watching either. I may even catch one or two more eps. 

THE SLAP


NBC THURSDAYS 8/7c j

Premise: Big family, middle age crises, a kid gets slapped. So yes… this show is about an actual “slap”, that’s not a metaphor.

Verdict: The cast is too good not to pay attention

I am not sure what happened here, but the show has more stars than a bad Valentine’s Day movie. We have movie actors like Thandie Newton, Uma Thurman, Alexander Saarsgard and veteran Brian Cox. Plus lots of familiar TV faces like Thomas Sadoski (The Newsroom), Melissa George (Alias, Hunted, Thieves), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl) and Zacchary Quinto (from Heroes, whom I guess we can also call a movie star nowadays). The cast seems a little too big for a midseason-not-particularly-well-promoted NBC show.

But let’s forget about the cast.

What about the show? I actually thought it was quite good. The Slap basically deals with an extended family; each member going through different professional and personal issues. We have the free-spirited parents who don’t discipline their kids [resulting in the infamous ‘slap’], the “cougar-writer” dating a young actor, the overworked couple and the flirty nanny who also happens to be the star of the leading man’s fantasies. I believe this show is a great addition to NBC’s line-up. It fills up the void left by Parenthood. It would definitely appeal to a similar audience than the recently departed family drama [although I felt it had a bit more edge and had hints of American Beauty at points]. It’s a much better take on the middle age crisis than USA’s somewhat lackluster Satisfaction.

Things are not going so great ratings-wise. The Slap wasn’t as heavily promoted as you would expect from a show with so many recognizable faces. Plus they are airing on Thursday nights which now belong to Shonda. Let’s hope NBC takes this into consideration before taking it off the schedule [although it is supposed to be a limited series so... they should just let it be]. But if history has taught us anything is that they are very trigger happy at NBC…

Should you watch it? Yes, especially if you liked Parenthood. I think this drama has lots of potential.


ALLEGIANCE


NBC THURSDAYS 10/9c


Premise: The son of two former soviet spies gets recruited by the SVR to act as a double agent inside the CIA

Verdict: No matter how much NBC denies, this looks like a broadcast version of The Americans

It’s no secret I LOVE spy shows [just do a search and see how often I mention Alias on any unrelated blogpost]. I would normally be thrilled about a show with a premise like this. Plus the cast is full of familiar faces that go from Lorelai’s boyfriend (Gilmore Girls) to the real Emily Thorne (Revenge) and Boris from Royal PainsSo… what’s the problem with Allegiance? Well… the premise.

The premise is just TOO similar to one of the main plots on The Americans [where the teenage daughter of the main protagonists is tapped to be recruited by the KGB]. At the same time, I understand these are two very different shows and that we shouldn’t necessarily compare them. The Americans takes place during the Cold War while Allegiance is a present day show. The Americans is a full-on gritty cable show while Allegiance is more of a family drama with spy elements. But… comparisons are inevitable.

Allegiance is a cool enough show and I am enjoying it so far, but thinking about the cooler, grittier Americans while watching is next to impossible.


Should you watch it? Yes. Especially if you are a fan of the spy genre. I think it is good enough to watch, but… don’t get too attached.
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TVEmpress

The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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4 comments:

  1. similar sentiments regarding izombie :) and yes so glad that i dont need to worry about renewal of my favourite show so I do wish it does well;) i havent watched the others yet :)

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    1. Judging from the ratings (I hope they hold) iZombie might get renewed as well.... I wish they hadn't renewed EVERYTHING already... I can think of a couple of CW shows I would "un-renew"

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  2. Haha well it seems as though the one part I thought was 'bland' (her delivery), you thought was spot-on! Lol.
    But as I said on Twitter, did enjoy the show & it would be nice to see it do well....if the CW can make room!

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    1. I actually think the blandness delivery was intentional... she was probably even told to do that since she is supposed to be all emo bc she is dead and stuff.... I actually really enjoyed that, saw it as part of the character... She's Veronica re-incarnated and I realize ppl who didn't watch VM prob don't get/don't care haha but for us who have it is almost an homage...

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