[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:"Infamous" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: It's "Dirty Sexy Revenge"
Quick Response: No. Really. "Dirty Sexy Revenge." What if "Dirty Sexy Money" had begun with the murder of Samaire Armstrong's character? [No loss there.] And what if Peter Krause's character were a cop instead of a lawyer and an African-American woman instead of a man? And what if that interloper returned to the family not to keep them out of trouble, but to get one of them in very deep trouble indeed? What you'd get would be "Infamous." NBC's attempt to get in on the Eat the Rich zeitgeist is derivative at every turn, but it's also yet another midseason drama that introduces plot twists at an almost astounding pace, with characters reversing course and changing their colors two or three times in the opening 44 minutes. Hmm... I used a "but" there as if being twisty were a compensation for being derivative. This is the kind of show that you instantly find yourself distrusting every frame because you know that the truth is like a bet on a roulette wheel: You might get a dose of adrenaline each time your number comes around, but until the ball stops bouncing, *nothing* is going to be the truth, so there's no point in investing. Everybody lies and they do it all the time, so what's the point in rooting for the truth? It's the problem "Damages" has always had in its weaker moments, only "Infamous" doesn't immediately have the strengths that make "Damages" shine when it's working. I'm very happy to see Meagan Good getting to lead a show. She's sexy, assertive and Good deserves this shot. But the implausibility of her character's reintegration into this close-knit, justifiably paranoid family comes dangerously close to crushing the entire premise and I desperately hope they don't continue to pretend "Infamous" takes place in a world in which TMZ is King, but Google doesn't exist. And as for the family, they're good, but they're not the Darlings. Victor Garber has played this sort of WASP-y patriarch too many times to be surprising, so we're just waiting and watching for him to turn out to be good-evil-good-evil-good-evil-good-evil... STOP. Ditto with Tate Donovan. I guess that for Donovan, this is better than being cut out of the "No Ordinary Family" pilot and for Garber this is better than "Charlie's Angels," but those are both tenuous compliments. I like Garber and Donovan, but it's good will from past performances than make them appealing here, not anything fresh or new. The rest of the cast is solid and packed with familiar faces, but there's no Donald Sutherland or Jill Clayburgh or Madeleine Stowe to keep you mesmerized even when the formula takes over. No matter how many times you've seen basically this exact same show, you'd still be hard-pressed to find "Infamous" boring. It's not gripping, but it keeps you guessing and we get two or three episodes worth of plot machinations in short order. "Infamous" isn't a great version of an ABC show, but it's a passable version of an ABC show, which makes me wonder how it's going to find an audience on NBC. But I wonder that a lot and that's NBC's problem, not mine.
Desire To Watch Again: I watched every episode of "Dirty Sexy Money," sometimes liking it very much and sometimes gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've watched every episode of "Revenge," mostly gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've also watched every episode of "Scandal" and probably most of the other ABC shows that this is aping. There's no reason I probably won't stick with this for a bit. Yay?
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries