Fall 2015 Pilot Tests

When I start hearing buzz about a new fall drama or comedy, I usually wait before diving right in. It needs to reel in some great reviews and ratings first, maybe an article here and there in Entertainment Weekly. After I read up on it and watch a trailer or two, I give it the ol’ pilot test. If the pilot episode hooks me, I stay with it for a while. If it doesn’t keep me interested, I try to rough it for a few episodes, given that some shows just take longer to really get underway, which I get. And even though I usually have a full fall roster every year ready to jam up my TiVo, I still try a couple new ones, just because. So this year, here’s what’s new to my ever-growing line-up and whether or not I think I’ll keep them …

Best Time Ever
Tuesdays at 10 on NBC

Best Time EverAs mentioned in my last PSA, I’m a huge Neil Patrick Harris fan so imagine my surprise when his hugely touted variety show, new to NBC this season, appeared to flop miserably. I found myself with a puzzled look on my face throughout much of the first episode, even fast-forwarding entire segments. The second episode did not fare much better. It’s as though he’s trying to cram much too much into every second and the pressure of performing it all live puts a strain on the easy-going, natural charmer that we know NPH to be. The audience participation in the first episode leaned more toward stalking and the second—an on-air proposal—seemed odd and out of place. His celebrity guest announcers falter awkwardly and “The End of the Show Show” runs the gamut from chaotic to sloppy. The only parts worth sitting through are the pranks and the physical obstacle course, which changes from show to show. But even so, after two episodes, I removed this from my TiVo to-do list. Sorry Neil, it just didn’t live up to its name. Continue reading

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HIMYM gets official spin-off

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As was first reported in late October, the rumored “How I Met Your Mother” spin-off is, in fact, no longer just a rumor—there’s officially a pilot in the works. The new sub-series will hold many of the same elements of the original: A group of friends share their life experiences in Manhattan, as the female lead searches for her true love. It might even feature the iconic MacLaren’s Pub.

“How I Met Your Dad” (way to keep the phrasing consistent) has no confirmed plans to include any of our favorite characters from HIMYM and this is why I’m skeptical about its shot at success. One of the co-creators, Craig Thomas, told EW earlier this year, “There’s a world where the universe of the show can keep existing in a way that feels coherent to what’s come before, but new enough to be worth watching.” There’s only one way for me to agree with that: The Father has to be Ted Mosby. Continue reading

Analyzing “The Americans” | Pilot

Fam

As promised, I re-watched the pilot of The Americans—and took three full pages of notes (front and back)—so that anyone still debating whether or not this is a show they would enjoy can come to a final decision. Plus as I mentioned, I love analyzing and not just watching. If you want my opinion (which you should, if you’re reading), just cough up the $25 like me and settle in for a long weekend on iTunes. Need more convincing? Well, I’ve never seen the merit in recaps, although I’m sure there are instances where they come in handy, so rather than give a full synopsis, I’ve chosen to go with bullet points. The pilot alone is only a couple bucks, so if you have any level of interest, just suck it up. Obviously, be prepared for SPOILERS! My view on spoilers has always been thus: If the show has already aired, it’s fair game—I may be behind on this one, but I know I’m probably not the only one, so you’ve been warned.

Here’s what you need to know: Continue reading

To watch or not to watch: “The Americans”

The Americans

I like TV that makes you think. Too often shows just pander to their lazy audiences, especially comedies. After all, who wants to come home from a long hard day at work and think? I, however, have always been partial to shows with a heavy-hitting undercurrent. I want to be taken for a ride.

As a senior in college, I took a course in television criticism. It was the first journalism class that actually allowed me to feel like I was doing something other than just taking notes on lectures about AP Style and the difference between slander and libel. We watched pilot episodes of several shows and analyzed them. I wrote term papers of ten or more pages on shows like Gilmore Girls and Boy Meets World. It re-wired my brain by giving me a fresh perspective on one of my most beloved “hobbies.” It helped me in the long run, particularly where entertainment journalism is concerned, into really letting the theme of a scene kick in and noticing nuances in character development. This isn’t to say I spend every moment dissecting the plot of what I’m watching—it just means that when I want to, I can flip a switch and really delve into the heart of a storyline with a keener eye.

Something tells me this will come in handy when watching FX’s new spy drama “The Americans.” Continue reading