<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.

 

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

 


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<p>Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel of &quot;Us &amp; Them&quot;</p>

Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel of "Us & Them"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them'

Alexis Bledel and Jason Ritter are likable centerpieces

[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:"Us and Them" (Network)
Airs:Midseason TBD
The Pitch: "It's 'Gavin & Stacey' only it isn't written by the actors playing the boorish besties, so it's probably going to be even more about the cute kids in love."
Quick Response: FOX's midseason comedy "Us & Them" is "Cute!" with a capital "c" and an exclamation point. With Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel, it has a pair of leads who are utterly winsome and adorable and look pretty together and have a cuddly chemistry if not any heat. Both Ritter and Bledel are capable of being funny under the right circumstances -- Rory Gilmore's "funny window" is smaller than his, but it's not non-existent -- but the pilot has little desire to make them funny, which is perfectly fine. Let the attractive kids in the middle be likable and worth rooting for as a couple and then you can let the veterans and the wacky people rounding out the cast bring the humor. The formula, at least for the pilot, works better in theory than in practice. And I'm OK with that. As I'll always say, pilots are about establishing the universe and I know with 100 percent certainty that Kurt Fuller, Jane Kaczmarek, Michael Ian Black and Kerri Kenney are capable of being funny, even if they're all mostly going through the motions in this first installment, which is based heavily, but I don't think line-for-line, on the "Gavin & Stacey" pilot. Once the writers can tailor material for those four supporting players, the chuckles ought to follow, rather than just letting them parrot lines already said by other actors in a comedy most Americans probably haven't seen. So I've got total faith there, but I'm not convinced yet on Dustin Ybarra and Ashlie Atkinson, who are playing the roles originated by "Gavin & Stacey" creators Ruth Jones and James Corden and they're playing them very similarly to the way Jones and Corden played them. I think there might have been a school of strategy wherein the American Gavin and Stacey were given a very different set of strange, wacky, totally incompatible friends, who served the same purpose in the narrative but didn't have to be identical to their predecessors. Those are Jones and Corden's characters and those characters were written by two actors who knew what they wanted to do and what they could do. Ybarra and Atkinson are left trying really, really hard and watching them becomes exhausting rather than funny. I hope American scribes begin to get a sense of what Ybarra and Atkinson do that's different and write to that, even if the plot leads the characters to the same place. Til I see them do some stuff that was meant for them, I don't want to pass any real judgment, because they're doing a performance of a performance here. This was, incidentally, yet another pilot that didn't need an in medias res structure. I think the feeling must have been that the story was too straight-forward without it, but I didn't feel like I really got very much when I reached the end and learned how the goofiness from the beginning was set in motion. But the journey in the middle was totally pleasant.
Desire To Watch Again: FOX has a handful of the likable-not-funny pilots that are this year's gold standard and the network could make a comedy block with "Us & Them," "Surviving Jack" and "Enlisted" (probably with "New Girl") and that would be a two hour comedy block that I'd find largely agreeable. The problem with almost all of these shows -- plus ABC entries like "Trophy Wife" and "Back in the Game" and NBC's "About a Boy" -- is that while I'd definitely watch all of them in the right slots, they maybe don't generate the passion required to not just entertain viewers, but to FORCE them to tune in every week. And if you can't do that, sometimes you're just left with "Bent" or "Goodwin Games." But I'd watch "Us & Them" again. Sure.

 

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

 


 

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<p>&quot;The X Factor&quot; contestant Jorge Pena</p>

"The X Factor" contestant Jorge Pena

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 3 - Auditions Night #2

We're back for at least one more night of recapping

Somebody at FOX loves me. 

Or hates me. 

Yesterday, I blogged the Season 3 premiere of FOX's "The X Factor" and left the fate of future recaps in the hands of one of three possibilities. Well, the show wasn't especially awesome, but it also wasn't worse and in the last 20 minutes, we got Alex & Sierra and Rion Paige, who were pretty nifty. And traffic for the recap wasn't outrageously good, but it certainly wasn't bad. And, finally, the consensus from readers wasn't a consensus at all. Some of you said that without having my recaps to accompany the show, there wouldn't be a point. Some of you said that you'd prefer I not torture myself. And the vast majority of you probably couldn't care less. 

That counts as a wash. 

Then I saw that Thursday's (September 12) episode was a full two hours and that temporarily pushed me into the, "No thanks" camp.

But FOX cut me off on the exit ramp and posted Thursday's full episode online, thereby cutting out commercial time and letting me do "X Factor" on my own schedule.

That explains the strange time-stamps in this live-blog. They relate to time in the episode and not to air-time.

And that also explains why I'm recapping tonight's episode.

More after the break!

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<p>Your &quot;X Factor&quot; Season 3 judges</p>

Your "X Factor" Season 3 judges

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 3 Premiere

Did Simon pick well with Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio?

Just when I thought I was out, FOX made it much too easy for me to pull myself back in.

If you'll recall, I hated the second season of "The X Factor." It was, in fact, my Worst Show of 2013, a perfect storm of disinterested (L.A. Reid) and discombobulated (Britney Spears) judges, of inept (Khloe Kardashian) and smarmy (Mario Lopez) hosts and of frustratingly predictable voting that marginalized what was, at times, a really talented crop of singers.

So I was prepared to quit on "The X Factor." Or, at the very least, I was prepared to hold off on my recapping until I'd had a chance to watch a couple episodes and see if new judges Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland were capable of bringing the magic the show has clearly lacked in the past.

That was going to mean eschewing a recap Wednesday (September 11) night's premiere.

But then FOX made two big decisions: The first was to premiere "X Factor" with only a one-hour episode. I can put up with an hour of recapping. The second decision was to put the full premiere up for press, meaning that not did it only require one hour of live-blogging, but it really only required 44 minutes, sans commercials. 

Score.

Hence the live-blog you see before you. And also, hence the confusing time format, which relates to the 44 minutes of episode time and not to the time of the premiere, either ET or otherwise. I'll be sure to put contestant names in bold, so you can find your way around that way.

In order for y'all to get more recaps from me this season, one of three things will have to happen: 1) The third incarnation of "The X Factor" would have to be awesome. 2) Traffic on this darned recap would have to be awesome. 3) There has to be an insane outpouring of reader interest.

With that out of the way... Here's what went down on Wednesday's "X Factor" premiere:

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 200

Dan and Alan talk 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Derek' and the pilot for 'The Wire'

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Depending on how you keep count, this is either Episode 200 for the podcast, or the 199th podcast that Sepinwall and I have done together. It all depends on whether or not you believe in Podcast No. 34.
 
In any case, if this was a milestone, it goes unremarked upon within the podcast. Instead, we talk about "Sons of Anarchy," Netflix's "Derek," Sunday's "Breaking Bad" -- Sepinwall loved it, I do not, disagreements ensue and y'all will take Alan's side -- and we conclude our Summer Pilot Rewatch with a long segment on "The Wire."
 
And next week? All Hell breaks loose, fall season-wise.
 
Here's today's breakdown:
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:00:40 - 00:19:00)
"Derek" (00:19:00 - 00:29:40)
"Breaking Bad" (00:30:00 - 01:03:00)
Summer Pilot Rewatch - "The Wire" (01:03:40 - 01:33:40)

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>The CW's &quot;Star-Crossed&quot;</p>

The CW's "Star-Crossed"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'

It's The CW like you've frequently seen The CW before!

[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:"Star-Crossed" (The CW)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "It's like Roswell, only with aliens! Oh. Wait. It's like 'Beauty and the Beast' if the only thing beastly about the Beast was a couple marks on his face! Oh. Wait. It's like 'Vampire Diaries' if she were a human and he were the one with impressive powers! Oh. Wait. It's like every CW show ever made. It's The Uber-CW Show!"
Quick Response: On Thursdays at 9 p.m. this fall, The CW is airing the strange, risky, possibly off-brand period drama "Reign," which isn't such a terrific match with "Vampire Diaries" or anything else on the network. Part of what's allowing The CW to take that chance is that the network has possibly the most on-brand piece of programming imaginable on its bench ready to go in. It's hard to believe that Matt Lanter's only been on one CW show. It's hard to believe that Aimee Teegarden's only CW experience is a couple episodes of "90210" and the first pilot for "The Selection." Put them together and it's a match made in brooding-but-affectless and wide-eyed-but-plucky heaven. Or does that sound too positive? Or negative? I really can't say. There are aspects of Meredith Averill's script that come across as a bit more layered than necessary -- Teegarden's character is an outsider because of health problems, while the crash landed aliens have a parallel Earth society that borrows more than a little from "District 9," only with the ETs looking wicked hot instead of like prawns. It's near-future speculative fiction and "Star-Crossed" has a few ideas regarding how people and society would react to this sort of close encounter and some of those reactions are slightly fresh and not so wildly outlandish (others are wildly outlandish and fairly stale), so I guess I appreciated that degree (some degree) of differentiation from "Roswell" and whatnot? Mostly, though, this is straight-forward, generic CW love-triangle stuff, made even more generic by the presence of Grey Damon, who seems to specialize in being in the middle of semi-supernatural love triangles on either The CW or ABC Family. [And no, I don't remember if Hastings Ruckle and Julie Taylor ever shared quality time together, so "Star-Crossed" doesn't get to benefit from additional "FNL" flashback glow in the way it might have if they'd cast Zach Gilford here. Teegarden is, incidentally, nearly unrecognizable here from her Dillon Days.] There's a commentary on American immigration policy vis a vis aliens that there's a 3% chance "Star-Crossed" might become. There's a 97% chance that "Star-Crossed" will just become another CW show about the pretty girl torn between the man her loins crave and the man she knows is better for her psyche. And there's a 60% chance that I'll watch every episode of "Star-Crossed" no matter which show it becomes. Sigh. I'm weak and I feel like shows like "Star-Crossed" are mass-produced to take advantage of my weakness and the weakness of women aged 18-34. Damn you, CW.
Desire To Watch Again: Desire? Meh. Inevitability? Probably. I end up watching a lot of The CW. You know this about me. I watched the entire initial run of "Cult," for heaven's sake (before it got pulled and held to the summer, when I quit). It takes something as unbearable as "Beauty and the Beast" to scare me away. This is much, much better than "Beauty and the Beast," though it's much, much worse than "Vampire Diaries." But is it worse than "Vampire Diaries" when it first premiered? Probably not. It's just blander.

 

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

 

 

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<p>Josh Holloway of &quot;Intelligence&quot;</p>

Josh Holloway of "Intelligence"

Credit: CBS

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

It's like 'Chuck' only for CBS, so much less fun and more likely to be popular

[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:"Intelligence" (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 10 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "He's like Chuck, only without that pesky nerdiness. And likability."
Quick Response: Josh Holloway's character in "Intelligence" is like Chuck Bartowski except that his Intersect is more of an in-brain dial-up modem giving him access to all of the world's networked data, but when it comes to the physical side of things, he has an advanced military record already. That means that the character has no charming awkwardness, because he was already a cocky Alpha before he got his enhancements, leading to a guy who would be really unappealingly smug except that he's played by Holloway and may be unappealingly smug despite being played by Holloway. This could just be a personal preference thing. As a kid, I loved "Greatest American Hero" and was less interested in "Six Million Dollar Man" -- I like the humility of a person who gets improvements he may not necessarily be prepared to handle, as opposed to a efficient killing machine who just gets new powers. And those new powers are already well-established when the series begins. It's a mistake of point-of-entry perspective, since we don't get to see Holloway's character adapt and the only character coming into this high-tech world for the first time is Meghan Ory's secret service agent, who doesn't seem especially shocked by anything she's discovering. If nobody on-screen is impressed, it's harder for people in the audience to be impressed. [You'll recall that "S.H.I.E.L.D." has three point-of-entry characters, which I said was maybe too many, but at least the pilot doesn't lack for people being in awe.] But I guess this is the way CBS likes it. This is cold and impersonal stuff, paying lip-service to the idea of an ongoing mythology, but delivering a pilot that's mostly perfunctory exposition -- "We gave a human the kind of power that had previously only been found in a machine. We created a man who was the first of his kind, an advanced intelligence agent." -- and belabored procedure, which I think will play just fine for a CBS audience. I suspect that that's not the audience that reads my blog and that the audience that likes the kind of TV I like will wonder why, other than Holloway's gruff sarcasm, the pilot is so devoid of incredulity-defusing humor and why the chemistry-free chatter -- it's not even up to the level of "banter" -- between Holloway and Ory is expected to be enough to instigate the Will-They/Won't-They investment that the show needs to thrive (even if all suggestions are that it won't be an immediate thing). Nothing in the "Intelligence" pilot was straight-up bad, but the visualization of the main character's skill-set is lackluster, the action sequences are weakly choreographed and the long-term plot is tough to care about. So it comes down to: Do you like Holloway, Ory and Marg Helgenberger? Are you willing enough to watch a show with them to see if "Intelligence" ultimately has higher aspirations than what the pilot sets out? Shrug.
Desire To Watch Again: "Intelligence" comes across as a less-interesting version of "Person of Interest," which even in its dreadful pilot seemed to have bigger things on its mind. I stuck around with "Person of Interest" and there were five or six episodes last season in which I felt that patience was rewarded. I'll at least give "Intelligence" one or two more episodes. Honestly, I think I liked the pilot more before watching it a second time at Comic-Con. Lots of pilots -- including "S.H.I.E.L.D." -- really aren't designed for rewatching, they're clunky engines meant to blast you into regular viewing. This wasn't much of a blast.

 

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

 

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 199

Dan and Alan talk 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Luther,' 'Breaking Bad' and more

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls! It's time for a busy installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. 
 
We've had a couple slow weeks with nothing to review and no real news to discuss, but this week's podcast is back to being busy.
 
We've got reviews of the new seasons of "Luther," "Boardwalk Empire" and the premieres of FXX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "The League," as well as our normal discussion of "Breaking Bad." We also talked a bit about the new "American Idol" judging panel, just because.
 
And we revealed our last Summer Pilot ReWatch option, which will tie that particular project up in a nice bow.
 
Today's breakdown:
New "Idol" Judges (00:01:05 - 00:10:30)
"Luther" (00:10:30 - 00:22:00)
FXX's Launch (00:22:05 - 00:41:00)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:41:00 - 01:02:20)
"Breaking Bad" (01:02:45 - 01:28:00)
The last Summer Pilot ReWatch (01:28:00 - 01:30:40)

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;Crisis&quot;</p>

"Crisis"

Credit: NBC

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

Dermot Mulroney's hostage drama tops Dylan McDermott's 'Hostages'

[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:"Crisis" (NBC)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "It's 'Hostages' only with Dermot Mulroney!"
Quick Response: In the Dylan McDermott/Dermot Mulroney battle of conspiracy-fueled, DC-based hostage dramas with bland one-word titles, the winner is Mulroney's "Crisis," at least for me. Yes, "Crisis" has several easy-to-predict twists and a frustrating in medias res opening and some character motivations that are totally transparent. And as with "Hostages," it feels more like the set-up for a movie or brief miniseries than anything with real legs. And a lot of Rand Ravich's dialogue -- "You're my problem and now I'm yours!" -- sounds like it was lifted from a Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich summer blockbuster. And I can't talk about half of the characters and half of the performances without saying things that would probably give other things away. So that's a lot of negatives. But negatives aside, Ravich's script also has a lot of unexpected and interesting beats and taking a group of well-reared school children as hostages rather than a boring-as-hell family gives Ravich an astounding number of potential directions to take things, at least in the short-term. And while I ended "Hostages" thinking, "I don't quite know where things go from here and I don't care," I ended the "Crisis" pilot thinking, "I don't quite know where things go from here, but there are a handful of paths that might be interesting." A frequently reliable (and sometimes hacky) feature thriller director, Phillip Noyce orchestrates a pilot in which a ton happens in a very condensed time-frame and a lot of it is at least initially entertaining. Unlike "Hostages," which was all about the prolongation of a simple situation, the "Crisis" pilot has a very high narrative burn-rate for a 43-minute network drama. I'd say the pilot has two or three climaxes which, with different arrangement of plotpoints, could have been held to end the second and third episodes, but get plowed through immediately. The immediate concern is whether Ravich threw the kitchen sink into the pilot to make sure it would test well, leaving the cupboard bare, or if he knew he had so much story to tell that he had move at breakneck speed. Ravich has some really poor feature credits, but due to his work on "Life," he's got short-term benefit-of-the-doubt from me. I don't wanna say too much but with Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Michael Beach and whatever your feelings happen to be towards Mulroney, there's a good cast of familiar stars and the kids, who aren't overburdened in the pilot, seem pretty and not-initially-inept (that's all I can ask). "Crisis" definitely isn't bad, especially if you watch it soon after "Hostages."
Desire To Watch Again: A lot of my desire to watch "Crisis" long-term will depend on where NBC puts it at midseason, but that midseason berth also means that before it premieres critics probably will get three or four episodes as screeners. I'll be happy to watch a couple more and that will give me a better sense of whether Ravich had a full bag of tricks or just enough for a pilot.

 

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

 


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<p>Greg Kinnear of &quot;Rake&quot;</p>

Greg Kinnear of "Rake"

Credit: FOX

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

Greg Kinnear's midseason legal dramedy has real potential

[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:"Rake" (FOX)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "House, JD"
Quick Response: It's hard to figure the exact percentage of the early appeal of "House" that rested on Hugh Laurie, but I think that "Rake" requires at least as much of star Greg Kinnear, who is playing a lawyer wacky enough for a David E. Kelley dramedy, but also screwed up enough for something much darker. We're introduced to Kinnear's character asking a hooker to perform oral surgery on him (not in a sexy way) and the show dives deep into the muck to introduces us to his world of seedy clients -- Denis O'Hare is a hoot in a role that I'd wager will become the "Rake" equivalent of Dylan Baker's constantly-in-trouble character on "The Good Wife" -- cross-dressing pimps, amiable henchmen, probably racially problematic associates and potentially dangerous adversaries. After only one viewing, I'd say that Sam Raimi's directing efforts on the pilot are surprisingly anonymous on an aesthetic level -- This isn't like the terrifically distinctive work Bryan Singer did on the "House" pilot -- but in the place of pyrotechnics, Raimi does something more important for the long-term future of "Rake": He sets the tone of the universe and the tone feels like a good piece of comedy-infused hard-boiled fiction, not quite on the level of an Elmore Leonard or a George Pelecanos or a Dennis Lehane (when those guys are trying to be funny), but in that aspirational range. So I'm relatively able to ignore that Kinnear's character only sometimes seems as charming or as brilliant as people keep suggesting he is. I'm relatively able to overlook that there are a lot of "types" among the supporting characters, but no fully developed characters. And I'm not appreciably worried that the legal shenanigans in the pilot are wicked silly and unbelievable. Liking Kinnear helps a lot in ignoring those failings and he does what is asked, starting by over-accentuating the goofy side of his character, but then showcasing the self-destructive side that makes this guy suited for an hour-long drama-type-thing rather than a comedy. This could almost be an FX show, which I mean in a good way. By the end, I was actually surprised by how the story had pulled me in and how involved I became. But boy oh boy they're gonna have to make better use of Miranda Otto and John Ortiz and the rest of the supporting cast as the show progresses. The pilot is close to a one-man show, with other objects just ricocheting off of Greg Kinnear. And it's not like Greg Kinnear is universally loved.
Desire To Watch Again: It's not there yet, but of all of the network pilots I watched this year, "Rake" is perhaps the one with the greatest upside, because I really can see how it could become another "House" or how it could come to feel like a West Coast spin-off from "The Good Wife." Other than "S.H.I.E.L.D." (and, I guess, "The Originals," which doesn't count) "Rake" is the drama that I can most easily imagine myself watching every week. "American Idol" has no drawing power anymore, but I still like that FOX is *trying* to give "Rake" a launching pad, because I might want this one to stick around.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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