<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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<p>&quot;The Blacklist&quot;</p>

"The Blacklist"

Credit: NBC

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

James Spader works, while Megan Boone fights against spotty writing

[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 Blacklist (NBC)
Airs:Mondays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch:"Alias" meets "Silence of the Lambs," with James Spader as Hannibal Lecter.
Quick Response: While Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix and Ryan Eggold mean that "The Blacklist" has a few other actors you know, it's important to be honest: It's a two-hander. As James Spader and, to a slightly lesser degree, Megan Boone go, so goes "The Blacklist." In a perfect cat-and-mouse game, you'll have investment in both animals, but you can probably get away with only caring about the mouse or the cat. I'm not sure whether James Spader is mouse or cat, but nobody will have any problems watching the "Boston Legal" star work his eerie brand of creepy-zen magic here, playing a master criminal with a government background, exotic tastes and a personal interest in newly minted FBI Agent Liz Keen. This is what Spader does best and even if "The Blacklist" had no other compensating features, I'd probably watch Spader leer enigmatically for at least a few more weeks. Spader's foil is Megan Boone, who has been in a few things I haven't seen, but instantly comes across as a well-conceived genetic blending of Minka Kelly and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I like the toughness that Boone is bringing to the character and the illusion of emotional openness, where you think that Spader will be perpetually cryptic and Boone will be easily readable, only to discover that might not be the case. However, the writing in the pilot really cripples Boone's character for me. There's an adoption storyline that screams "Smash" in the worst way possible -- Does anything scream "Smash" in the best way possible? -- and if you're a writer attempting to give a character professional credibility, having that character plan to take a long lunch break for adoption counseling on THEIR FIRST DAY AT THE FBI, you've done something very wrong. I get that they're trying to show that the character is trying to prioritize family, but IT'S HER FIRST DAY AT THE FBI and she's apologizing for not being able to have an all-important adoption meeting. When I actually write this review, it's going to be 2000 words about that adoption meeting and the soullessness of attempting to simultaneously maternalize a main character and build tension through an endangered child. Except that I won't have time for that. Sigh. So Boone is fine, but I have major reservations about the character. I think, in fact, that there are many writing sins in the "Blacklist" pilot that Joe Carnahan's muscular direction is covering up. I'm nervous about how things might unfold with a lesser director in Week 2. Oh and the plot twist/reveal that 100 percent of all viewers guessed from the trailer? It hasn't been revealed yet, which either means they're going a different direction or that they think we're really dumb.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll stick around for a bit to find out if the answer is "different direction" or "dumb." James Spader makes things watchable and there's at least the potential that this could be a weekly crime-fighting romp in the "Alias" mold. In fact, how on Earth did somebody *other* than J.J. Abrams give Megan Boone this big break? She's 100 percent his flavor of leading lady. Still, based on NBC's confidence, I wish this was more fully formed than it is.

 

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. 191

Dan and Alan talk 'The Bridge,' 'Newsroom,' 'Camp' and much more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
 
Lots to review in this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We've got FX's new drama "The Bridge," Netflix's dramedy "Orange Is The New Black," NBC's very Australian "The Comedy" and the second season of HBO's "The Newsroom."
 
Will you be surprised by how much we now love "The Newsroom"? Listen to find out!
 
And we also talked about "The West Wing" in this week's Summer Pilot Rewatch.
 
Next week's Summer Pilot Rewatch, in honor of the Comic-Con panel celebrating its 20th anniversary, will be FOX's "The X-Files." 
 
Here's today's breakdown:
"The Bridge" (00:00:55 - 00:21:20)
"Camp" (00:21:20 - 00:35:25)
"Orange Is The New Black" (00:35:00 - 00:54:20)
"The Newsroom" (00:54:25 - 01:11:00)
Summer Pilot Rewatch: "The West Wing" (01:11:10 - 01:35:10)

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;The Tomorrow People&quot;</p>

"The Tomorrow People"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People'

A late change in course my help Robbie Amell's superpowered drama

[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 Tomorrow People" (The CW)
Airs:Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:You know "Heroes," "Alphas," "Misfits," "Chuck," "Chloe King," "Reaper," "Jake 2.0," or any of the dozens of TV shows and movies in recent years about ordinary people who suddenly discover they have (or are given) extraordinary abilities? Has The CW ever had one? Well, other than "Reaper."  Bingo! Now, with an Amell! [The original British series isn't on my radar, unfortunately.]
Quick Response: It's really hard to settle in and enjoy the pilot for "The Tomorrow People," because every single solitary beat in the first 30 minutes feels like the latest iteration of a seemingly endless string of superhero origin stories on the big and small screen. The search for any sign of freshness is futile, so you're left looking for things that are at least well handled or handled with any sort of new twist and even that's hard, especially since pilot director Danny Cannon may have accidentally taken his shot-list and visual template from "Nikita" to the "Tomorrow People" set. Even the production design for the various lairs looks like various rejected, or possibly accepted, concepts for Division. And then, when you're looking for something that doesn't feel like straight-up cloning, you're given a leading man who literally comes from a common genetic pool with "Arrow" star Stephen Amell. And it isn't that Robbie Amell is bad, but his similarities to his cousin keep producing moments of frustrating deja vu, especially when the script finds a way to get him out of his shirt multiple times in the first five minutes. Like I said, Robbie Amell isn't a bad actor, but he's ridiculous casting in this role, both because he looks much, much, much too old to be pretending he's a high school student, but also because there's zero excitement in watching somebody with the muscles of a model or a professional athlete discover he might be strong. Guess what? There's no way this character looks the way he does without spending a awful lot of time in the gym, so when he discovers he can shoot CGI blur from his fingertips, it's just another thing he has going for him, not a 180 reverse of his life. It's predictable CW casting and it undermines the show. They needed to find a Bret Harison or a Zachary Levi or a Chris Gorham or anybody who couldn't, again literally, fit into a mold established by another CW star. Aaron Yoo, good in a supporting role here, would have been more interesting lead casting, but... Yeah. But there were things I liked in the last 15 minutes. I like that Mark Pellegrino's character, while obviously intended as the villain, comes across as fairly reasonable and that that character's rational behavior instigates plausible conflict for the hero and that that plausible conflict may eventually spin the show off in a direction which is still derivative -- I'd say which shows the twist is borrowing from, but then you'd feel like you'd seen ever second of "Tomorrow People" previously -- but at least feels derivative of different things, rather than every one of the shows I listed in the Pitch. The end of the show gave me hope that "Tomorrow People" could could at least offer the occasional detour from the norm.
Desire To Watch Again: This is a time slot that will only work for me if I will myself to jettison "The X Factor." I'm curious based on the end of the episode and that curiosity might make me give this one another few episodes. I honestly give nearly everything on The CW at least a handful of episodes unless they're unwatchable like "Beauty and the Beast." So this'll probably get more episodes as well. On a broader level, this isn't a show that's going to bring anybody new to The CW.

 

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>CBS' &quot;Hostages&quot;</p>

CBS' "Hostages"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages'

Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott can't make this seem fresh

[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:"Hostages" (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch:It's "The Mob Doctor" with slightly higher stakes!
Quick Response: Leave aside the higher production values and more prestigious cast that come with the CBS pedigree and all "Hostages" is is a glorified version of FOX's "The Mob Doctor," only with a better title and uppity claims of being a "limited" series or somesuch. ["Mob Doctor" was pretty limited itself. FOX should have advertised it that way.] Doctor with high-profile patient is squeezed to violate that whole "Do no harm" ethos [Minus the NBC split-personality thing], only to respond with stubbornness and morality or whatever. The presumption is that you'll actually care about the doctor's dilemma in this case both because she's played by Toni Collette and because her patient is the President of the United States rather than some mob stooge. It's a big assumption, because other than casting Tony winner (and Nate Archibald grandfather) James Naughton, no effort was put into making the President even a semi-character, so it merely theoretically seems like it'd be better not to kill him. In any case, every second of the "Hostages" pilot is familiar and the execution is proficient, but perfunctory. Writer-director Jeffrey Nachmanoff keeps the pilot chugging along, but you can almost sense him checking off boxes as he goes along: Opening action! Hostage situation! Twist! Demand! Daughter's got a secret! Son's got a secret! Husband's got a secret! Twist! Elongating cliffhanger! There's no room for anything to breathe and the only reason you're going to care about anything is, "Because you're inherently supposed to." Yes, it's bad to take a family hostage and it's bad to plot to kill the president, but nothing in the "Hostages" pilot makes me invest in the characters or situations beyond that. I vaguely care about the doctor because Toni Collette makes me vaguely care about things. I'm vaguely interested in what Dylan McDermott is doing, because Dylan McDermott makes me vaguely interested in things (even "Dark Blue" for a couple minutes). I don't care about either of the teenage characters, because "Hostages" has doubled down on its obligatorily annoying teenage characters whose whining may or may not be designed to make you sympathize with the hostage takers. And the end of the episode just screams "24"-style wheel-spinning. CBS is treating this like some sort of programming revolution, but I watched "The Nine" and "Vanished" and "Kidnapped." It's easy to do the pilot for this kind of thing. It's harder to make it a network series. And I'd say this is worse than the pilot for "The Nine" and "Kidnapped" at the very least. [And that's not getting into comparable new shows like "Crisis" and "The Blacklist" yet.]
Desire To Watch Again: I have enough curiosity for one more episode. Either it breaks out of its programmatic rut and gives me something to care about or I check out. Fast I'm content to watch a Toni Collette/Dylan McDermott thriller. But I'm also content to skip it entirely, especially since it's "limited." Nothing in the destination promised by the pilot is mandatory enough for me to lock in for three episodes yet, much less 13 or 15.

 

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>FOX's &quot;Sleepy Hollow&quot;</p>

FOX's "Sleepy Hollow"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow'

Nicole Beharie gives credibility to a nutty FOX drama

[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:"Sleepy Hollow" (FOX)
Airs:Mondays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:It's "New Amsterdam" meets "Zero Hour." Wait. That doesn't work. It's... "Alcatraz" meets "National Treasure"? Hmmm... "It'll do for Washington Irving what 'The Following' did for Edgar Allen Poe"? Tough pitch, this one.
Quick Response: "Sleepy Hollow" probably should have premiered this past spring when, thanks to "Zero Hour" and "Do No Harm" and "Cult," it would have looked grounded and plausible. On the bright side, for most viewers, there won't be much question as to whether they're in or out. Around two-thirds of the way through the pilot, The Headless Horseman is strutting through a 2013 church graveyard firing a pump-action shotgun at a scruffy, newly resurrected Ichabod Crane and, at that point, you've either signed on for whatever loopy-ass misadventures Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Phillip Iscove have in store, or else you've probably changed the channel to one of the 50 other things airing on Mondays at 9 p.m. This is looney tunes stuff, lifting a couple kernels from Washington Irving's American legend, adding some revisionist American history, bringing it all to the present with a heaping spoonful of magic and then dousing the whole thing in pseudo-Biblical mumbo-jumbo. Thanks to pilot director Len Wiseman, the whole gooftastic affair is delivered with so much style that pausing to ponder the substance is either futile or, more likely, idiotically misapplied. If you've seen "Shame" or her brief "Good Wife" episode (but mostly "Shame"), you know that Nicole Beharie is a heck of an actress and she gives this pilot an almost absurd amount of credibility. It's almost unfair, because with a lesser actress, you could probably pass this off as nonsense and move on. I also think I'm OK with Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane, though that may be the tremendous relief of a British actor on an American series actually getting to do his native accent. The strong backing cast -- Orlando Jones, John Cho and Clancy Brown -- serves no purpose beyond distraction, but it's all part of the sleight-of-hand necessary to pull this nonsense off. I have no clue how this show functions on a week-to-week basis, much less the rather optimistic timetable laid out within the narrative. My initial sense is that the hastily established mythology is preposterous and "Sleepy Hollow" is going to have to make up its rules as it goes along, but... The Headless Horseman shooting a pump-action shotgun in a cemetery? Nobody can accuse these guys of not committing.
Desire To Watch Again: This actually is a light time period, so light that I continue to watch "2 Broke Girls." The availability of DVR space, plus my appreciation for Nicole Beharie could be enough to make me give this one a handful of episodes to either tighten up, sustain or crash entirely. That being said, my amusement with the pilot was hesitant at best and even the slightest decline in quality in Episode 2 and I'll probably check out immediately. I fully expect that a couple million viewers will be pretty culty about this one and nobody else will watch.

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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