Monday, September 22, 2014

New Fall Shows, Round 1!

Last week marked the official start of Fall premiere season, as new shows began airing on the major and cable networks. I managed to catch three shows; one was ok, one was great, and one I liked, but I'm not sure about. Are you intrigued? Let's get to it!

Z Nation: This zombie show airing on SyFy was one of my top 5 most anticipated new shows of the season. After watching the pilot though, I have mixed feelings. During the first 10 minutes or so, I was really disappointed. The whole thing has the grainy look and feel of a typical SyFy low budget Saturday night movie. You know the ones I mean--something like "Giant Mosquitoes Attack!" (which I think was actually a movie they aired several years ago).

But then a funny thing happened...the show got good. The budget and amateur direction didn't improve, but once we got into the actual story and met some new characters, I found myself impressed by the performances and the concept. And the zombie attacks were frequent, creative, and had awesome kills. I also respect that the show isn't afraid to cross the line. A bus full of school kid zombies? Done. Oh, and a zombie baby that chases around the characters and is shown gnawing on a person's intestines? DONE. This is not for the fair of heart...or stomach.

As if I needed ANOTHER reason to be grateful I don't have kids.

Bottomline: If you can get past the low production budget, there is a compelling concept and good performances in a zombie show that is not afraid to go for the gross-out.  Z Nation airs Fridays at 10:00PM on SyFy. 

The Mysteries of Laura: Debra Messing is back on NBC as a NYPD homicide detective who solves murders while juggling her responsibilities as a working mom. She has twin boys who are trouble-makers (they get kicked out of their pre-K school for misbehavior) and she is going through a separation/divorce from her cheating husband. He claims he still loves her...but can she ever trust him again?

She's taking bad guys down with whatever's handy...even a nerf gun.

Look, here's the deal. This is a good show. There is nothing wrong with it and it's essentially a cop procedural combined with a dramedy about the main character's personal life. And that's fine if it's your bag, but it's not mine. Other than Law and Order: SVU when I'm traveling (or drunk), I don't have much use for procedural dramas. So while there was nothing about The Mysteries of Laura that was bad, it's just not a show that I am particularly interested in. But if you enjoy procedural dramas, Debra Messing, or shows about ladies doing it their way, give it a shot. 

Bottomline: An enjoyable cop procedural centered around a woman who must reconcile her obligations to her family and her responsibilities as a homicide detective. The Mysteries of Laura airs Wednesdays at 8:00PM on NBC.

Red Band Society: This show was not even on my radar until it aired, but I loved the pilot and fully intend to keep watching. I saw a lot of comparisons between it and Glee, and I think that's fair--except Red Band Society is way better. There's no singing, but there is voice-over, characters who embody teen archetypes with a twist, and snappy clever dialogue with insults flying fast and furious. 

The show is about a group of teenagers who are semi-permanent residents of the fictional Ocean Park Hospital in LA. They have various maladies: cancer, an eating disorder, heart problems, cystic fibrosis, etc. There are also some adults in the mix, most notably Octavia Spencer, who plays the pediatrics nurse everyone is afraid of, but who actually has a heart of gold. But: YOU GUYS. You know who else is in this show??

Wilson Cruz, aka Rickie from My So-Called Life!!

I know, I know, a lot of you are thinking "who?" But MSCL is one of my favorite shows of all time and Rickie was an amazing character, not to mention one of the first gay teen characters on television. Anyway, whenever I see him in something I get really excited. So I hope Red Band Society is popular so he can keep working. 

The show has that same edgy and black humor as Glee, but is less shallow with more substance and heart. The subject matter is also understandably more serious; in the pilot the "new kid" is about to undergo surgery to remove his leg (because of cancer? I think?). Anyway, I can't lie--I teared up at the end.

Bottomline: A wickedly funny drama that successfully balances typical teen trials and tribulations with more serious subject matter. Also watch for the interesting adult characters and the tv trope of the"family of choice." Red Band Society airs Wednesdays at 9:00PM on FOX.

Coming later this week: capsule reviews of Madame Secretary, Forever, Black-ish, and How to Get Away With Murder. I also expect Clovis will have some thoughts about Gotham...

1 comment:

Scienter said...

I was disappointed in Z-Nation. Let me know how the second episode is and I'll consider not canceling my season pass. I've got so many other shows I watch, I'm thinking this one might not make the cut, especially since Sleepy Hollow is coming back!