<p>&quot;We Are Men&quot;</p>

"We Are Men"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men'

It could be worse. That's the high praise on this Monday comedy.

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"We Are Men" (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 8:30 p.m.
The Pitch: "Sex and the City" for sad, desperate middle-aged men. So... "Entourage" in its later years.
Quick Response: New TV Season Pet Peeve: People who compare "We Are Men" to "Happy Endings," just because both shows begin with a guy being ditched at the altar, even though the scene in "We Are Men" is explicitly a referencing "The Graduate" and "We Are Men" has nothing particular in common with "Happy Endings" otherwise. I lead this blurb with that essentially meaningless annoyance because there's hardly any point in saying anything about "We Are Men." It's there. And by causing me almost no discomfort or pain, it's better than "Partners," which tanked in this slot last year. It's better than "Dads," which has a similarly disconnected sensibility regarding homosocial friendship. And it's better than the legion of Mancession comedies which several networks, mostly ABC, tried and failed with a couple years ago. So what I'm saying is that I was prepared to be annoyed or offended by "We Are Men" and, instead, I was merely bored. Victory! Tony Shalhoub seems amused to be playing a sleazy letch at this point in his career and who am I to begrudge Tony Shalhoub's self-amusement? Jerry O'Connell seems amused to be wandering around in a banana hammock in several scenes and who am I to begrudge the fat kid from "Stand by Me" wanting to show off that he's still the kinda stud-muffin who can marry a former super-model? Kal Penn seems a bit uncomfortable and I'm not sure how I'd describe his character, but he may just be easing back into TV after his brief period sorta-kinda working for the Obama Administration, so perhaps he'll find something to amuse him by the fourth or fifth episode. And then there's Christopher Smith, who is playing what absolutely would have been the Josh Cooke role two or three years ago and I want to warn him that shows that contain A Josh Cooke Role usually suffer A Josh Cooke Fate, which is speedy cancellation. But I forgot he was there, which is at least as much a factor of his not having much of a character as his not giving much of a performance. The fact is, I kinda like the backdrop of a "Quality furnished short-termed housing" complex in Tarzana and I don't hate the core trio not counting Chris Smith (who I also don't hate, but who I really have no opinion on). The pilot, though, is a random hodge-podge of leering and "rules," plus stuff with Fiona Gubelmann, who you know I love, but who won't have anything to do going forward. So... Whatever.
Desire To Watch Again: One more episode. Period. When it turns out that it's yet another "The guys try to fix Carter up on a date" snooze, I'll be done, even though this is a time slot in which I notoriously give shows too many chances.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

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<p>Michael Ealy of &quot;Almost Human&quot;</p>

Michael Ealy of "Almost Human"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human'

Michael Ealy and Karl Urban could lift this about sci-fi familiarity

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Almost Human" (FOX)
Airs:Mondays at 8 p.m. in November
The Pitch: It's "Blade Runner" by way of "Fringe" and then every other sci-fi thing ever.
Quick Response: Let's just say that J.H. Wyman has a wide range of sci-fi influences at work in "Almost Human" and you won't feel like any of them are woven together with any subtlety. But sci-fi pastiche is a storied art, so just because you can look at this futuristic buddy cop drama and precisely isolate which parts of the DNA came from "Total Recall" and which parts came from "Blade Runner" and which parts came from "Aliens" doesn't mean this is exactly theft, per se. It's just heavily inspired by other versions of the near future in which technology has run amuck and it's getting harder and harder to tell people from machines. If nothing else, this is a brighter, flatter, less fatalistic vision than anything that might have been directly imagined by Philip K. Dick. Instead, this comes through the aesthetic filter of Wyman's work on "Fringe," right down to the familiarity of the act-break structure, the tone of the unfolding mythology and, particularly, every single musical cue. I would say that the show probably feels too "Fringe"-y at times, because it has all of the nervous ticks of "Fringe," but without the fun outlandishness and epic scope. Dunno how to explain. This is still relatively ambitious sci-fi on a network TV budget and while "Almost Human" definitely doesn't look like it was made on a cinematic budget, it doesn't look cheap. The effects are reasonably solid and the conception of futuristic urbanity is reasonably, albeit limitedly, realized. Karl Urban is well-cast for particular brand of rugged skepticism. You'd be disappointed in me if I didn't mention that there's absolutely no reason why his character has to be American and that the accent does him no favors but, in the balance, I think Urban absolutely has what it takes to be a very good TV leading man. More proven on the small screen is Michael Ealy, who I think may well end up being the real reason I watch this show. He's playing an android specifically programmed to have human feelings, but there's something very tantalizingly alien about his performance that perhaps perfectly embodies the unease of the Uncanny Valley. He's playing his character just a click "off" and it works well. The pilot seems to rush through several stages in the partnering dynamic, but I think Urban and Ealy have good chemistry. Lili Taylor and Mackenzie Crook have a decent scene or two. Minka Kelly has some dialogue in her first scene and promptly gets forgotten.
Desire To Watch Again: I just can't get excited about anything this derivative, even if Urban and Ealy's relationship/bickering might be slightly fresh. I'm vaguely interested in this world, but not nearly so interested in the Big Mysteries that the pilot thinks I should care about. I'm curious to see how future episodes feel and are paced, but I'm also pretty sure I could check out on this in a hurry. [Full disclosure: There is no drama pilot on any network for fall or midseason that I'm so fully invested in immediately that I'm not prepared to check out on it in a hurry.]

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 192

Dan and Alan talk Cory Monteith, 'Sharknado,' Emmys and Comic-Con

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
 
It's Firewall & Iceberg time, even if there aren't many new shows to review this week. 
 
We review "Axe Cop" and "High School USA," the first entries in FOX's new HDHD block and we discuss "The X-Files" as part of our Summer Pilot Rewatch, but we also preview Comic-Con and the Emmy Nominations, which are this week's big events.
 
Oh and yes... We talk about the majesty that is "Sharknado."
 
Of course, the podcast starts on a somber note with the tragic passing of "Glee" star Cory Monteith. Apologies for the inevitably harsh transition between that and "Axe Cop," but... That's just how it had to be done.
 
Next week's Summer Pilot Rewatch (or maybe two weeks from now... schedules are weird) will be "My So-Called Life." On the podcast, Alan says it's on Netflix. He lied. But it is on Hulu.
 
Anyway...
 
Today's breakdown:
Cory Monteith (00:00:55 - 00:12:30)
"Axe Cop" and "High School USA" (00:12:40 - 00:21:05)
Emmy preview (00:21:00 - 00:35:10)
Comic-Con preview (00:35:15 - 00:43:00)
"Sharknado!" (00:43:10 - 00:59:05)
Summer Pilot Rewatch: "The X-Files" (00:59:05 - 01:18:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

 

 

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<p>&quot;Back in the Game&quot;</p>

"Back in the Game"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game'

Maggie Lawson and James Caan make this one to check out

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Back in the Game" (ABC)
Airs:Wednesdays at 8:30
The Pitch: It's "Bad News Bears," only with a father-daughter story at the core.
Quick Response: There are five or six new network comedies that I like because I have immediate warmth for the characters and the overall worlds. There are zero new network comedies that I find genuinely and consistently funny. But "Back in the Game" is certainly in that high-ish tier of amiable-but-maybe-not-yet-hilarious pilots. It all starts with Maggie Lawson, who is tremendously appealing as a former softball star forced by circumstance to move back in with the hyper-competitive father who maybe pushed her too hard. Lawson anchors the show entirely and more than anything, she deserves credit for holding her own against James Caan, who is playing his gruff-and-boorish character at a very high volume. Rarely an actor to hold back, Caan has gone big here, but Mark and Robb Cullen's script gives him just enough humanity that he avoids entirely seeming like a sitcom character. The same can't necessarily be said for Ben Koldyke, who sometimes favors punchlines over looking like an actual person. Since Koldyke's last ABC comedy was "Work It," though, I'm definitely willing to give the guy credit for improvement. Koldyke isn't the only one just a bit confused on how broadly to be treating the script. Directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra give "Back in the Game" ample zip, but somebody down the road will have to help this show settle on a more consistent tone. It's not oppressive or anything. You just have naturalistic kids acting with mugging sitcom kids and underplaying adults acting with overplaying adults and it's a mish-mash. Griffin Gluck, playing Lawson's son, is among the better young actors on ABC's kid-heavy slate and I think that he, Lawson and Caan work well together. That's the core of a decent show and, by the time Lawson gives an obligatory inspirational speech to the rag-tag Little League team she ends up coaching, I was willing to sign on for a while. How is "Back in the Game" going to handle the many months of the year in which nobody plays Little League? Dunno, but they can easily decide that Caan's character used to push his daughter in youth basketball as well, but nobody felt the need to immediately mention it. "Back in the Game" is a solid match with "The Middle" and also could have paired reasonably well with "Modern Family." It's one of at least three ABC comedies that would have been better after "Modern Family" than the one ABC programmed there.
Desire To Watch Again: This is a bad time slot for me and it's going to take an effort to figure out which shows get DVR space and which have to be Hulued later. I'll definitely give "Back in the Game" a few more episodes, but I'm not sure when/where/how. With a little mellowing, Caan and Lawson could settle into one of TV's better father-daughter dynamics, which would be worth seeing.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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<p>&quot;Sean Saves the World&quot;</p>

"Sean Saves the World"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World'

If Thomas Lennon and Echo Kellum were the stars this might work

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Sean Saves The World" (NBC)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:"Sean Hayes is back!" "In Pog form?" "No. In schlocky sitcom form." "Even better!"
Quick Response: Look, I get that Sean Hayes is a talented man. He sings. He dances. He acts. That "Martin and Lewis" TV movie? He wasn't bad. I just don't find him all that funny. Not on "Will & Grace." Not on "Smash." Etc. But lots of people do. So I can't say how "Sean Saves The World" will play for you if you love Hayes' brand of desperate, eager-to-please comedic mugging. Perhaps you'll love it? Me, I could only sit back in some agony as I watched one of the most exposition-y comedy pilots in recent memory. Everybody in the pilot feels the need to constantly be establishing the premise, like when Sean observes to his daughter, "Your mom just moved away. I just got a new and very weird boss" or when his mother (Linda Lavin, matching Hayes ham-for-ham) walks in and announces "You have so much on your plate: A teenage daughter, a terrible new boss, that fantastic, gorgeous man you finally found who dumped you..." Why should anything happen in a pilot when you can have characters tell us all of the big things that happened before we arrived? And why should we have the pilot's theme illustrated for us when Sean can moan, "I don't know anything about parenting" and another character can helpfully respond, "Nobody does." That's the entire first half of the pilot. The second half is limp farce in which Sean tries to escape from his office early because he promised to be home for dinner. Yawn. I really don't expect better from Hayes, who does all of his Sean Hayes things, but to say that I expect sharper writing from "Better Off Ted" and "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" creator Victor Fresco would be an understatement. This is a poorly written pilot and the direction, courtesy of legend James Burrows, who I couldn't respect more if I tried, is as boxy and lifeless as so many of Burrows' recent pilots. And YET. Yup. "And yet..." I could have disliked this pilot a lot more. Really. As the "terrible new boss," Thomas Lennon made me laugh a couple times, which is more than I can say for several comedy pilots I actually liked this year. And the marvelous Echo Kellum, who really deserves a starring vehicle and soon, made me laugh once or twice. In fact, were it not for the exhausting efforts of Hayes and Lavin, I might feel this pilot had potential. Unfortunately, they're the show. [Note that Lindsay Sloane, who appeared in the original pilot, was replaced by Megan Hilty. I like Megan Hilty. I also like Lindsay Sloane. Neither will make or break this show.]
Desire To Watch Again: I'll watched the revised pilot to see how Megan Hilty fits. I'll watch a couple more episodes to see if Victor Fresco can stealthily make this a show about Lennon and Kellum's characters. Then I'll probably move on.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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<p>The CW's &quot;Reign&quot;</p>

The CW's "Reign"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign'

Adelaide Kane shines, but this is still an odd choice for The CW

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Reign" (The CW)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:"It's about a teenage Mary Queen of Scots. And she fights crime!" "Sold!" "OK. Now what if she *doesn't* fight crime?" "Does. Not. Compute."
Quick Response: There's just no way to get around it: The CW's "Reign" is weird. It's like one of those raunchy historical epics that Showtime or Starz thrive on. Think "Borgias" or "Tudors." Now remove all of the nudity. And tone the raunchiness down to what you can get away with on The CW (albeit with one scene that's a bit surprising in its kink). And throw in a Baz Luhrmann/"Marie Antoinette" updated soundtrack and semi-modernized sensibility about girl-power. But now remove the aesthetics that a Luhrmann or a Sofia Coppola might bring you and replace it with a much more conservative look, courtesy of "Casper" auteur Brad Silberling. So at that point, it's almost like "Hart of Dixie," if instead of being a doctor leaving NYC for Alabama, Rachel Bilson was a princess leaving a nunnery for France. Only minus the wackiness? But still keeping the swoony love triangle? Look, I'm just trying make this relatable for you so that you can understand why The CW has programmed a hyper-earnest royal teen soap opera set in 1557 after "Vampire Diaries." Yes, I know "TVD" likes to play dress-up and do flashbacks, but come on! Anyway, this whole thing hinges on the casting of Mary Queen of Scots and, in Aussie soap vet Adelaide Kane, at least The CW has a strong leading lady, capable of being feisty when required and looking period-appropriate in corsets and whatnot. I like her a lot. The love triangle is way out-of-synch, because Torrance Coombs' Bash is interesting, while Toby Regbo's Francis is a bland pretty boy. I like all of Mary's giggly, way-anachronistic hand-maidens, who bring a confusingly 2013 touch to the 16th Century French court, especially when they all try on dresses and bat their eyelashes. [All-grown-up Narnia lass Anna Popplewell is probably the standout.] I'm amused by the silliness and audacity of making Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) a major character, but also making the mystic, who would have been an ancient-for-the-time 50-something, predictably CW-broody. And then you have Anne of Green Gables (Megan Follows) in a key role. So there's that! After the pilot, I don't have a clue what this show is, how it functions for 22 episodes per season or how The CW expects to get people to watch it. If it were awesome, I'd understand what The CW sees in it. But it's not. It's most intriguing for how strangely it fits into its surroundings and the occasional random ways in which it tries to adapt. But other than a strong interest in Kane and vague curiosity about how they intend to play the couple minor mysteries from the pilot, I really don't get "Reign" as a CW show. The CW wanted the fantasy-tinged "The Selection," couldn't get it right on two occasions and so they "Selection"-ized history. Kinda.
Desire To Watch Again: If, say, History were airing "Reign," I might not be inclined to give it more than another episode at the most. Because it's The CW, I have a perverse curiosity that goes beyond the quality of the show.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

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<p>&quot;The Crazy Ones&quot;</p>

"The Crazy Ones"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones'

Time-Traveler Bob Benson upstages Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"The Crazy Ones" (CBS)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch: "Bob Benson: Time-Traveling Ad Man [Small Print: Also Guest-Starring Buffy and Mork]."
Quick Response: Jimmy Wolk is pretty much the best and worst thing about "The Crazy Ones." When David E. Kelley and company cast him, they couldn't possibly have known that the "Lone Star" and "Political Animals" veteran was on the verge of becoming the breakout mystery man of this past "Mad Men" season. At that point, they were just happy to have an attractive, gung-ho young leading man with the surprising energy to go toe-to-toe with Robin Williams. They may not have even known that Wolk and advertising were about to become permanently intermingled with clingy '60s bathing trunks, a nurse named Manolo and, particularly, "NOT GREAT, BOB." Because of the presence of Time-Traveling Bob Benson, "The Crazy Ones" has a brand new distraction which goes above and beyond Robin Williams' predictably aggressive attempts to thrust himself back into primetime. No. He does not do his John Wayne voice. I assume that's being held for Ep.2. Otherwise, you would not accuse Williams of restraint. At one point the character jokes that he has 25 voices in his head -- the "crazy" in the title may be worse than we initially think -- and that gives Williams the opportunity to run through such favorites as Wise Old Native American Man and Scottish Clansman. Oh, Robin Williams. So schticky. I'd say that I'm looking forward to Williams relaxing in subsequent episodes, but Robin Williams doesn't relax. Williams is at his best here when he's with Wolk, because you can sense that they're really enjoying what they're doing and, in an outtake at the end, you can see that others enjoy working with them as well. And by "others," I mean "Kelly Clarkson," who is probably right up there with Wolk when it comes to the best parts of this uneven pilot. She's game for anything and she's actually totally amusing in her own right. Expect enough raves for her performance here that Clarkson will almost have to be brought back and probably frequently. I'm less enamored with Sarah Michelle Gellar who is too often forced to play the shrill wet blanket, which brings out the brittleness that has always been her weakness. When the dialogue asks her to be funny, Gellar's go-to move is the "little girl voice" and in a show with strong comics around her, that just can't measure up. Gellar has one good moment at the end that gives me some hope, but she still worries me. The "Crazy Ones" pilot sent to critics is really short and because it's so heavy on long Robin Williams riffs, the combination of literal brevity and improvisational filler leads to a fairly empty episode. Only Williams and Gellar get character moments and the "plot" may only be three or four scenes. I don't know if this bodes well going forward, especially with David E. Kelley not necessarily being a veteran of the half-hour comedy.
Desire To Watch Again: I don't really need to watch "The Robin Williams Funny Voices Variety Half-Hour," so I'll probably give this an episode or two to settle before deciding. I didn't hate Williams' hamminess, but it was so very much par-for-the-Williams-course that I couldn't find it funny either. This time slot is too tough for me to stick with anything I don't actively enjoy, so there had better be some quick tightening or else I'm out until Clarkson's inevitable sweeps return.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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<p>The stars of FOX's &quot;Enlisted&quot;</p>

The stars of FOX's "Enlisted"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted'

Geoff Stults, Parker Young and Chris Lowell bring plenty of charm

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Enlisted" (FOX)
Airs:Fridays at 9:30
The Pitch:"Stripes" by way of Carl Hiaasen
Quick Response: Kevin Biegel's semi-autobiographical military comedy about three brothers in a Rear Detachment Unit in Florida doesn't deliver many laughs, but it does yield a ton of charm and when it comes to a comedy pilot, I often don't ask for much more than that. All I want is a reassurance that spending a 22 minutes per week in this world will be pleasant and jovial and, in this case, I'm reasonably convinced. The core trio is quite strong. Geoff Stults continues to prove that he's always been a sitcom star trapped in a soap opera leading man's body, which probably isn't working out so poorly for him. Chris Lowell delivers always-welcome sarcasm, even if I may need a bit more convincing he's right for the Bill Murray or Chevy Chase role in this '80s-flavored (but not set) pilot. The breakout, though, is almost certainly Parker Young, who doesn't just prove that Ryan Shay was a repeatable phenomenon, but he continues to show that his lunkheaded good nature relies heavily enough on the "good nature" that the less-than-optimal IQ side never feels like caricature. I think Lowell might be a slight outlier in the trio's chemistry, but that could just be because his character is the skeptic of the group. Or maybe you just can't craft flawless chemistry in a pilot and I should just be satisfied that it's already this solid. Keith David is the other key piece of the main cast and Keith David is rarely short of awesome. While the supporting ensemble is definitely a work-in-progress, several of them got chuckles from me in the pilot, so maybe I'll have learned their names by midseason. It's hard to get a feel for the show's weekly approach to plot based on the pilot, which is initially premise-driven -- Stults' super-soldier gets in trouble in Afghanistan and returns home -- but has to add a barely considered shaggy-dog subplot involving War Games against random Italians to get to the finish line. It's intentionally a goof so that you can concentrate on the fraternal bonding and also affirm the VERY clear respect for our military that Biegel wants to maintain. With tens of thousands of US soldiers deployed in conflict zones around the world, you can tell this show doesn't want anybody to think there's minimizing or mockery afoot and it does that without ever feeling jingoistic. Like so many of this season's better new comedies, the pieces are already here to be likable and fun. With any luck, that'll evolve into being funny as it develops.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll be happy to watch this one again, but I wonder where we'll be watching it. "Enlisted" doesn't premiere until November and by that time, if there's any justice, "Dads" will have already flamed out. FOX knows "Raising Hope" can do OK numbers in that Tuesday 8 p.m. slot, but that could leave "Enlisted" without a comedy companion. "Surviving Jack" would make a reasonably good pair, but would FOX want to do a double-dose of new comedies on Friday? That would be odd. So we'll all just wait for "Dads" to fail to see what happens!

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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<p>&quot;Orange Is The New Black&quot; star Taylor Schilling</p>

"Orange Is The New Black" star Taylor Schilling

Credit: Netflix

Interview: 'Orange Is The New Black' creator Jenji Kohan talks prison, Netflix and Jodie Foster

'Weeds' creator raves about new star Taylor Schilling
As HitFix's Alan Sepinwall says in his review, Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black" is one of the pleasant surprises of the summer.
 
Based on the memoir by Piper Kerman, "Orange" is a very dark comedy about the penal system as seen through the eyes a Brooklynite who checks herself into a federal prison on a year-plus sentence for a drug crime she committed a decade earlier.
 
Really, there's no reason why "Orange Is The New Black" should be a surprise. With its blend of character-driven humor, sharp sociological critique and occasional unblinking murkiness, "Orange" feels like a missing season of Showtime's "Weeds," the elided episodes focusing on Nancy Botwin's prison term. And that makes total sense since "Orange Is The New Black" was created by "Weeds" mastermind Jenji Kohan.
 
A couple weeks back, I chatted with Kohan about "Orange Is The New Black" as a companion piece to "Weeds." We discussed her new star Taylor Schilling, the challenges of adapting to an hour-long format and her approach to both the darkness and light of prison. We also talked about Jodie Foster, who directed the season's third episode.
 
"Orange Is The New Black" premieres in its entirety at midnight tonight on Netflix. The show has already been renewed for a second season, though this conversation too place shortly before that pick-up.
 
Click through for the full Q&A...
 
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<p>James Cromwell of &quot;Betrayal&quot;</p>

James Cromwell of "Betrayal"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal'

Like watching paint dry on the wall of an apartment you could never afford

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Betrayal" (ABC)
Airs:Sundays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch:"It's like a upper-crust soap opera only without any sense of fun. Think 'Dirty Sexy Money' only leaden. Oh and you've never seen longer close-ups of Stuart Townsend's blurred, bare butt than you'll get here. If that's a selling point."
Quick Response: I've said this before and I'll say it again: "Betrayal" probably won't be the first show cancelled this year, but it's the show with the least chance of success. I don't know what made ABC buy this pitch or what made them pick up this pilot. And nothing is going to make people watch. Structure-challenged scribe David Zabel has two new shows at ABC, both of which start with completely gratuitous, value-diminishing in medias res openings. One of those shows is actually pretty decent despite the lazy-ass structure. The other is "Betrayal." I've gotta say: I've watched hundreds of pilots over the years and I've seen probably dozens that were worse than "Betrayal." Heck, there are worse pilots this season. Several. "Betrayal" is full of pretty people. I'd watch Hannah Ware do just about anything, forgiving that she's woefully incapable of doing an American accent. And I'd watch James Cromwell do anything because he's Farmer Hoggett and also because when he goes with the bald-and-goatee look, he's a total badass. And Patty Jenkins knows how to craft a superficially shiny and handsome pilot. So yeah. I've seen worse pilots than "Betrayal" -- Yes, ABC, you're welcome to that as a pull-quote -- but I've probably never watched a pilot that I found less gripping or even vaguely interesting. Yes, 21 minutes of "Work It" felt like going to a tattoo parlor and getting barbed wire inked onto your eyeball, but 42 minutes of "Betrayal" felt like two years of watching very, very expensive paint dry on the wall of an apartment you could never afford to live in. Ware and Stuart Townsend play two people who have trouble connecting with other people who start an affair because they have a sterile connection brought about by their troubles connecting, or just because they're very pretty, not that everybody isn't very pretty. Or maybe they just bond over the difficulties of speaking excruciatingly bad dialogue with bad American accents? I don't know. I'm not as interested in empty infidelity as some people seem to be and I don't doubt that there's a tiny subset of disenchanted housewife that will swoon over all of the yearning glances here. But nobody else will. Because these aren't humans. Any of them. And then, as if the infidelity nonsense isn't soulless enough, there's a murder plot that's only spiced up by "E.T." star Henry Thomas giving a strange performance that is going to have more than a few callous sorts referencing "Tropic Thunder." I won't do that, but it's an odd, odd performance that, if nothing else, Henry Thomas is fully committed to. Is the performance confusingly jarring in the context of this anodyne nightmare of expensive real estate, art galleries and corporate boardrooms? Well, yes. But it's the only part of the entire show that made me pay attention, even if only to write, "Really?" in my notes a few times.
Desire To Watch Again: Zero. I strongly dislike "Revenge," but I keep watching it because even though the scandals of the idle rich are meaningless to me, sometimes it has a sense of camp. This has no camp, no fun and even the in medias res tease at the beginning, which is repeated at the end, isn't nearly enticing enough for me ever to tune in again.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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