<p>ABC's &quot;Resurrection&quot;</p>

ABC's "Resurrection"

Credit: ABC

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

Midseason drama has one interesting question, but needs more

[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:"Resurrection" (ABC)
Airs:Sundays at 10 p.m. starting in March
The Pitch: "If zombies are big on AMC, maybe people returning from the dead will be big on ABC, too." "But are they zombies?" "Well, not exactly." "So what are they?" "Can't tell you!" "Sold."
Quick Response: I may be irrationally gun-shy, but I'm distrustful of entirely serialized dramas that are set up as being ultimately only about the answering of a single question. That rule doesn't necessarily apply to investigation-type dramas, because wanting to know who killed Rosie Larsen, or that sorta thing, will definitely keep me going for at least 12 or 13 episodes. But in the case of ABC's "Resurrection," I came away from the pilot with the key question that everybody will have: Why are residents of Arcadia, Missouri coming back to life many years after their deaths? [Or at all, I guess. Once you're coming back from the dead, I don't suppose it necessarily matters how long it takes. Still pretty strange.] So yes, I kinda want to know the answer. But there's really nothing else that was put forward in 44 minutes that I need to know anything more about. I don't care about any of the characters or the circumstances behind any of their deaths. So given that there's a book by Jason Mott out there, is there a point in watching 13 hours of a TV show? Well, the book doesn't star Omar Epps and I like Omar Epps, playing an immigration official, even if I'm confused by his absence of facial hair and even more confused by his character's jurisdiction in all of this. The book doesn't have Kurtwood Smith, getting a rare opportunity to play a character who is entirely sincere, without any sarcasm or venom or plausible menace (I could be wrong about the last two). The book doesn't have Devin Kelley, who I liked in "Chicago Code." It is, in fact, a pretty sturdy cast here. And pilot director Charles McDougall knows how to lay on some atmospherics and there are couple rather gorgeous visuals, mostly in the early-going. McDougall also lays on the spiritual schlock and even though I knew it was coming -- this show went through several titles, but "Resurrection" is the one that's least subtle, religion-wise -- the arrival of a friendly priest character who starts giving lectures on belief left me cringing. With this and NBC's midseason drama "Believe" and FOX's departed "Touch," TV has been pushing the "Messianic Kid & Stoic Guardian" buddy drama pretty hard, but it's at least semi-ironic how these shows all want to be about faith, but universally have almost no faith in the audience's ability to put anything together without spoon-feeding.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll definitely give "Resurrection" one more episode to see if an ancillary mystery arises that will keep me engaged long enough to get the answer to the big question. "Resurrection" is a bit sleepy in its pacing, but it seems to be bursting with vim and vigor compared to "Betrayal," the drama that'll be occupying its time slot all fall. I have "Betrayal" pegged for a swift collapse, so I wonder how quickly ABC could push up the premiere, or if I'd rather just read the book in a couple days and save my Sunday TV viewing for other things. [Or maybe I'll just watch the French drama "Les Revenants," which airs on Sundance this fall and may or may not be REALLY similar.]

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Surviving Jack' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'About a Boy' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Believe' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
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

 

<p>FOX's &quot;Surviving Jack&quot;</p>

FOX's "Surviving Jack"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Surviving Jack'

Chris Meloni shines in this coming-of-age 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:"Surviving Jack" (FOX)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "'The Wonder Years'... '90s Edition" or else "Feces My Dad Says: Origins"
Quick Response: Of the three "Wonder Years"-style comedies premiering this season, "Surviving Jack" was easily my favorite pilot, topping ABC's shout-y "The Goldbergs" and NBC's odd (and being altered) "Growing Up Fisher." There are several reasons for that. The first and most important is that Chris Meloni is just terrific. Meloni perfectly nails the mixture of prickly outrageousness and well-intentioned -- but still awkward -- love that William Shatner blundered in Justin Halpern's "Feces My Dad Says," which now feels like the batch of test cookies that were burnt and properly discarded in preparation for this. The "SVU" veteran is truly funny, but also recognizably human in a way that grounds the entire show. I also have to admit that "Surviving Jack" is much more my jam, historically speaking, than "The Goldbergs" was. The early-90s world of hypercolor t-shirts, scrambled porn and burgeoning adolescence struck a chord with me, but for the most part the pilot was much less "Let's make a campy, dated reference just for the sake of snarky dramatic irony" than "The Goldbergs" was. Yes, "Surviving Jack" is yet another comedy pilot that didn't make me laugh, but I smiled a lot in general recognition. Much will depend on relatively unknown leading man Connor Buckley, who has appealingly sarcastic timing in certain scenes, but reads too flat and bland in others. Buckley doesn't have to be Fred Savage for "Surviving Jack" to work, but he has to imprint a bit more strongly in later episodes, or else this will just become "The Chris Meloni Show," which wouldn't be bad, but it probably isn't what this wants to be. Another alternative, should Buckley fizzle, would be for "Surviving Jack" to push Claudia Lee into the forefront. Fans of "Hart of Dixie" and "Kick-Ass 2" (a weird Venn Diagram that I'm not even a part of, since I thought "Kick-Ass 2" was pretty dismal) know that Lee has impressive comic timing as well as singing and dancing skills that might as well be utilized. Also capable of picking up the slack is Rachael Harris, who wasn't in the original pilot and has never, despite many sitcom attempts, been given a part that properly utilized her gifts. As was the case with "The Goldbergs," "Surviving Jack" lacks the weight that flashing back to the late-60s brought to "The Wonder Years," but it has potential when it comes to the humor and the heart.
Desire To Watch Again: FOX has several not-hilarious-but-likable comedies that could either evolve into funny shows as they develop their individual voices, could remain laughless-but-charming or could become unpleasant as FOX's comedy development team pushes them to be more overt. But as with "Enlisted" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," I look forward to watching a couple more "Surviving Jack" episodes.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'About a Boy' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Believe' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
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

 


 

<p>&quot;About a Boy&quot;</p>

"About a Boy"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'About a Boy'

David Walton is either perfectly cast or totally miscast

[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:"About a Boy" (NBC)
Airs:Midseason TBD
The Pitch: "It's like 'About a Boy,' only warmer and fuzzier."
Quick Response: On one hand, Jason Katims' adaptation of Chris and Paul Weitz's adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel works very well. It successfully brings nearly a full movie or book's worth of story into 22 minutes and, thanks to both Katims and director Jon Favreau, there are a couple laughs and three or four totally effective warm fuzzies. Nobody does warm-fuzzies like Jason Katims. David Walton brings ample charm to the lead role and, after having been rascally and winning in a slew of failed NBC comedies, perhaps this'll be the one that brings him a certain level of stardom. Minnie Driver is a neurotic, sometimes hilarious mess and once you accept that you're not going to instantly embrace her -- You aren't supposed to, just as you weren't immediately supposed to love Toni Collette's character in the movie -- I think she's very, very good. Even though we're mostly in the early antagonistic stage of things, I think there's fine chemistry between Walton and Driver. And although Benjamin Stockham is more of a sitcom kid than I'd like -- I prefer Nicholas Hoult's understated eyebrow-driven work in the movie to Stockham's expressive mugging any day -- he's funny enough and I think the sitcomization of the semi-eponymous "boy" sets up the the "... on the other hand," which you knew was coming. On the other hand, Katims and Favreau have pretty solidly missed the point of Hornsby's book and the movie. Or changed the point. I think Walton's well-cast for what Katims and Favreau want to do, but I think he's probably miscast for the source material. At 34, Walton is still young enough that the character's boyish behavior is almost entirely unconditionally winning. Yes, he's childlike, but he's not so old that it's a problem and just because he's got friends who have more mature lives and just because he's got a different lifestyle from the Driver character, that doesn't mean he's doing anything wrong. Hugh Grant was 42 in the movie and part of why his performance there is SO great is because he's also charming, but you see the cracks in his charm, you see the desperation and sadness that maybe the character *doesn't* initially feel, but maybe he *should* feel. There's a lesson that the character *has* to learn in the book and the movie, whereas with this casting and this tone, you figure that David Walton's character has a few good years before he can legitimately be judged. If you age down that main character, you drain the title of its double meaning and you take away what's at the core of Hornby's book. Maybe. Of course, there's room for wiggling. Grant was a little older than Hornby's Will, if memory serves, and that added age brought the melancholy of the book to the surface for the movie. If Walton is younger, what aspect will that bring to the surface of the TV show? And will whatever aspect that is justify the change? We'll see. As it stands here, the main dynamic is less like "About a Boy" and more like "Bent," only with a kid. A few people loved "Bent." I liked "Bent" a lot. If attaching a brand name to a remake of "Bent" gets "Bent" back, some people will be perfectly happy (and some people will feel mighty bait-and-switched).
Desire To Watch Again: Ample. My reservations about the pilot stemmed largely from familiarity with two versions of the source material that this doesn't adhere to in terms tone/theme. Probably I need to get over that. At a certain point "About a Boy" will become its own thing. Katims worked on "Friday Night Lights," which wasn't the book or the movie, but was awesome as its own thing. He has worked on "Parenthood," which isn't the Ron Howard movie and has been, in my opinion, much better as its own thing. I like Walton and Driver. A lot. Once I see what "its own thing" is, I can easily imagine enjoying "About a Boy" as its own thing. But it's not Nick Hornby's "About a Boy." So get ready for that.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Believe' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
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

 

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 201

Dan and Alan talk 'Breaking Bad,' 'Mom,' 'Hostages' and 'The Blacklist'

The

Happy Friday, Boys & Girls!
 
As you probably know, this has been a trying medical week for Alan and the HitFix family. But most for Alan and his actual family. 
 
At one point, this was going to be a two podcast week. Then it was going to be a zero podcast week. And we ended up settling somewhere in the middle. Over the course of three days and many, many, many recorded segments -- Ignore the "Happy Wednesday" part -- we were able to cobble together this hour-long podcast.
 
We're sorry that you'll never hear our full review of FOX's "Dads," or "Sleepy Hollow" or "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," but we talked for a couple minutes about the second episode of "Dads" here and I assume we'll check in on the other two at some point.
 
Mostly, this podcast was an excuse to chatter about Sunday's awesome episode of "Breaking Bad," but we also snuck in brief reviews of next Monday's "Mom," "The Blacklist" and "Hostages," just because next week is going to be pretty insane.
 
Feel better, Alan!
 
And here's today's breakdown:
"Breaking Bad" (00:02:50 - 00:35:00)
"Mom" (00:35:30 - 00:42:00)
"Dads" Episode 2 (00:42:00 - 00:45:00)
"Hostages" (00:45:15 - 00:53:20)
"The Blacklist" (00:53:30 - 01:01:35)

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.

 

 

<p>Stone Martin of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

Stone Martin of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 3 - Auditions #4

Still more auditions from Charleston and Los Angeles

Once again, thanks to FOX for coming through with a screener for tonight's "X Factor" auditions.

And also thanks to FOX for any "X Factor" episode that isn't two hours long.

Remembering that the time code for this recap will be based on screener time and not on episode time, click through for my full breakdown on Thursday's (September 19) hour.

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<p>Danie Geimer of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

Danie Geimer of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 3 - Auditions #3

Will Demi Lovato do her Simon Cowell impression again?

Hey gang. I decided to stick around with "The X Factor" for at least another week of recapping. It's all about consistency and seeing a job through to the end, even if you frequently threaten to quit.

Wednesday (September 18) was my first double recap Wednesday of the fall and I've already done "Survivor: Blood vs. Water." It's possible/probable that if I continue to do "X Factor" through the live shows that I'll do "X Factor" first followed by "Survivor," but tonight it was the other way around.

No screener tonight, so I'm back to normal time code for the live-blog.

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<p>Rupert's back. If you care.</p>

Rupert's back. If you care.

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' Premiere - 'Blood Is Thicker Than Anything'

Returning players and their loved ones face a slew of twists
Intro and Re-Intro. Water! Blood! It's a structurally interesting start. The 10 pairs are being dropped off in 10 locations and they don't know that they aren't playing together. Let's meet and re-meet them! "I am the original, the OG," says Gervase, whose niece Marissa was nine when he originally played. Oh God. We're all so old. "It's cute that he thinks he's going to win," Marissa says. Ah, Kat and "Big Brother" winner Hayden. I assume their conversations mostly involve smiling prettily. "It is 'Survivor' in a house," says Hayden, who apparently knows precious little about "Survivor," while Kat insists this is her game. Monkey! Yeah, I don't remember Laura at all, so I don't have any real ties to her daughter Ciera. Yawn. Rupert. Rupert has somehow never made it to the end and his wife Laura wants to outdo her hubby. "This has always been about Rupert and Rupert playing three times and Rupert, Rupert, Rupert," Laura says. Oy. No, Jeff Probst. Colton didn't make "controversial" statements. He made bigoted statements. There was no "controversy." He was a pig, but he's hoping that his fiance will give him maturity. Colton's goal is to show us a new side, while Caleb swears he knows a different Colton and promises redemption. Candice and husband John are worried they may be perceived as too successful. Monica is joined by husband Brad Culpepper, who Jeff Probst calls "famous," even though if you showed his picture to 100 of the most dedicated NFL fans in the world, 98 couldn't identify him (the other two went to Florida). Brad's ready to play second fiddle to his wife. Former winner Tina is prepared to be competitive with daughter Katie who is, in turn, prepared to beat her mom at her own game. Tyson has been disappointed by "Survivor" (and "Survivor" fans by Tyson!) but he's going to do well this time, because he's prepared to take down the loved ones. "Exile Island" winner Aras is here with his somewhat estranged brother Vytas, who had a drug problem and spent a year in jail. This duo already intrigues me, even if Aras' season is one I only half-remember. The teams will all get to spend a night alone, without supplies, with the veterans expected to help prep their loved ones for the game. I just wish that the different locations didn't look awkwardly staged and lit. Gervase finally realizes it's been 13 years since he played "Survivor." "Do you want me to do something?" Colton asks Caleb. Kat is overrun by ants. And the game is on!
 
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<p>The &quot;New Girl&quot; premiere. No puzzles.</p>

The "New Girl" premiere. No puzzles.

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' Season 3 Premiere - Are you 'All In'?

Nick and Jess canoodle, while Winston does puzzles
[Normally, this would be Sepinwall's recap. Unfortunately, Alan is still well short of 100 percent and was unable to take his turn at the plate. Since "New Girl" is a show that I enjoy, I figured I'd pinch-hit. This will not be as good as Alan's recap would have been. How's the poem go? "I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do/ To swell a progress, start a scene or two." Or at least I can fill in for a "New Girl" premiere recap. Hopefully Sepinwall will be back soon.]
 
Thanks to "Sports Night," I'll always know the *worst* thing that can happen when a Will They/Won't They couple finally gets partnered up and seems on the verge of happiness. 
 
You'll recall that Casey and Dana spent a season flirting and trying to figure out their feelings for each other, but as we reached Season 2, it looked like the sailing might be smooth. So Aaron Sorkin decided that Dana decided that Casey was too close to his divorce and she didn't want to be a rebound, so she insisted that in order for them to be a couple, he'd have to date other women for six months first.
 
Ugh. Dana's dating plan was the worst.
 
So now whenever a TV couple gets together, as long as the woman doesn't immediately demand that her beau start dating other women, I consider that to be a big win.
 
In that light? It was a great "New Girl" premiere on Tuesday (September 17) night. 
 
Otherwise? Yeah. That was a little rough. FOX made most of its premieres available for critics to view beforehand and "New Girl" was strangely absent, following a season in which nearly every episode was posted early for review. After watching "All In," I'm much less surprised. [Had the "New Girl" premiere been up early, Sepinwall could have reviewed it, too.]
 
A few more thoughts on the "New Girl" premiere just as soon as I pull over for a piñata shaped like a monkey...
 
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<p>FOX's &quot;Dads&quot;</p>

FOX's "Dads"

Credit: FOX

Why FOX's anti-critic ad for 'Dads' only makes a bad thing worse

Or why 'Reprehensible? This is FOX, baby!' isn't so good for branding
A car company -- Let's call it Faux -- has a problem. Their really expensive new automobile, a flashy red SUV, has a problem. It's not an especially good car. It has limited horsepower, a feeble turning radius and its speaker system makes any music you decide to play sound like Hootie & The Blowfish. Oh and some joker decided to make the bumpers out of molded TNT, so minor fender-benders can lead to explosions, which is less than ideal.
 
Faux knows about these problems, but car was designed by the same guy whose last vehicle, a gas-guzzling pickup truck, has been packing the freeways for months, so they're determined to stand by the car, no matter its flaws.  So some genius decides to get out ahead of the criticism. 
 
A new advertisement is released. "Critics of our new car say... 'It's Wildly Dangerous' - Car & Driver." Cut to a soccer mom. "Dangerous? But it's red!" she smiles, piling her kids into the car. "Critics of our new car say, 'It'd be reprehensible to let a loved one drive this thing' - The Huffington Post." Cut to a guy in a cowboy hat. "Reprehensible? It's just Faux!" he says, packing his beer cooler into the spacious, TNT-sculpted trunk. 
 
"Don't listen to the critics! Buy our new car... PLEASE," the ad closes.
 
It doesn't matter that the commercial refutes accusations of danger with affirmations of redness and charges of reprehensibility with a contention that reprehensibility is a key part of the Faux brand identity. The underlying message is, "Perhaps our car will kill you, but that's still better than listening to critics. Buy!"
 
While this is a really sophisticatedly veiled analogy I'm making here, I bet some of you will be able to see through my ruse to realize that I'm talking about this promo wherein FOX pits fans against critics.
 
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<p>NBC's &quot;Believe&quot;</p>

NBC's "Believe"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Believe'

Alfonso Cuaron's bold direction tops Alfonso Cuaron's clunky script

[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:"Believe" (NBC)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "Maybe the reason nobody watched 'Touch' is because it needed just a dash of 'The Fury' and a dollop of 'Rectify' on the side."
Quick Response: NBC's midseason drama may be one of the year's most intriguing pilots, but it also has a serious cast of Agiftednanitis, which may prove fatal. Agiftednanitis is, of course, named after the CBS pilot "A Gifted Man," which featured a nonsensically New Age-y script that was marvelously undercut and clarified by Jonathan Demme's pilot direction. Every second I watched the pilot, I knew that everything I liked about it would vanish when Demme went to do other things. Now, Alfonso Cuaron is unlikely to vanish entirely from "Believe." He wrote the pilot and he's an executive producer. But Alfonso Cuaron, like fellow "Believe" executive producer J.J. Abrams, has several things on his plate and probably won't be 100 percent involved in the day-to-day. And that's too bad, because there are moments of stunning craft on display in the "Believe" pilot, moments that pretty much only could have been crafted by the director of "Children of Men" and "Believe." There are dazzling tracking shots and dizzying moments from distorted POVs and, when he wants to, Cuaron gets an intimacy with his framing that can be breathtaking. Were this a silent pilot about a girl with special powers and the death row inmate mysteriously entrusted with keeping her safe, I'd be calling "Believe" the year's best pilot. Unfortunately, it is not and for all of Cuaron's gifts as a director, his liabilities as a writer of English-language dialogue are nearly as severe. As fluid as Cuaron is with the camera, he's clumsy with theme and plausible characters and as strong as his eye is, his ear is weak. So I was nodding my head in appreciation one moment and cringing the next and, actually, sometimes I was doing both at once. As the hyper-powerful, not-so-vaguely messianic kid at the show's center, newcomer Johnny Sequoyah definitely fulfills the Drew Barrymore/Chloe Grace Moretz requirements for astounding on-screen composure and preternatural wisdom. She doesn't make Bo feel like a human child, but she's pretty much not, so that's OK. I'm far less convinced by Jake McLaughlin as Bo's confused and initially hostile protector. McLaughlin is California-born, but struggles so poorly with tone and inflection that I just assumed he was just another Australian or British interloper holding back because of his accent difficulties. I spent 40 minutes hating McLaughlin, but at the very end he and Sequoyah find a little rapport that made me think that, with the right seasoning, he could have the upside of a Surfer Lee Pace. Delroy Lindo is left to bear the brunt of so much mumbo-jumbo about faith and belief that I'm 85% sure he's playing his character from "A Life Less Ordinary," which would probably be a spoiler if it's true. The tripe about miracles and spirituality is slightly palatable here because of the sheer fun of watching Cuaron fiddle around with the limitations of a new medium in the same way that several of Stephen King's more religiously inclined books mostly work because of his demented pop culture glee. That perverse glee is actually exactly what "Believe" could really use in subsequent episodes, because the idea of an exquisitely directed version of "Touch" will lose a lot of its pleasure when the exquisite direction goes elsewhere. [NBC has experience maintaining some level of aesthetic originality on "Awake" and "Hannibal" without visionary director David Slade and there's at least *some* chance that what "Believe" loses without Cuaron's direction, it could gain from better writing. But it's a small chance.]
Desire To Watch Again: Because of Jonathan Demme, I liked the pilot for "A Gifted Man" enough that I watched *way* more than I should have (and way more than it sounds like star Patrick Wilson was fully invested) and I'm nervous about going down that path again. I definitely want to see what a few episodes of "Believe" look like without Cuaron at the helm, but I wish this could be one of those new-fangled Event Series, with Cuaron doing a full limited run. Yup. Wary.

 

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Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'  
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Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
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Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
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Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
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' 
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All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries