Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall TV Scorecard: Week 2

*The following grades refer ONLY to premiere episodes. In addition to a letter grades based on the quality of the single episodes, I will also suggest — based on what those episodes suggest for the season to come — that you “Subscribe” on Hulu, “Keep your eye on” for the odd episode here and there or “Kill and Bury,” which should be self-explanatory.

The Mob Doctor (Fox)

It's easy enough to be fooled by the pilot of Mob Doctor into thinking it might be a decent show. The story of an ends-justifies-the-means doctor with a debt to the local organized crime syndicate has intriguing possibilities.  But after some time and distance you begin to remember all of the unpolished nonsense that transpires in one 44-minute episode.

TMD -- intended as the medical procedural replacement for the great albeit inconsistent House M.D. -- is packed full with a rather forgettable and mostly unlikeable cast, the worst of which is the series' protagonist  Dr. Delvin (Jordana Spiro) with an ever-present pout, and an inexplicably off-putting snake-like stare.

To call the pilot convoluted would be an understatement. The good doctor fights to save the lives of not one but three patients and crosses paths with not one but two mob bosses. We're also introduced to the boyfriend, a co-worker (obviously) with whom Spiro shares no chemistry whatsoever, and two medical superiors, one of whom is the Mr. Miyagi for Delvin, and the other the thorn in her side.
Seeping with melodrama (one teenage patient has apparently experienced an immaculate conception and is at risk of losing her super-important swimming scholarship. "DRAMA!") and lacking really any compelling character or structure (with the exception of one, carefully-placed sleight of hand twist) Mob Doctor flatlines fast.

Grade: C
Class: Kill and Bury

Revolution (NBC)

In the latest Show-That-Would-Be-Lost, the world is inexplicably plunged into an un-correctable darkness as all electric power and activity shuts off. From there, human society decays into a feudal system ruled by militias and plunderers.

We meet our heroes, a nice family of four getting by in a friendly commune of survivors, but one day the local militia rides into town, shoots up the place, kills Katniss Everdeen's Charlie Matheson's father, steals her brother and gets out of dodge.

As you would expect, Charlie, with the help of her step-mom and a pudgy in-over-her-head neighbor, go trekking off to 1) find her uncle so that they can 2) rescue her brother. The producers have talked about how Star Wars was an inspiration for the show (watch for a shout-out to the sci-fi franchise in the form of a lunch box) so in a nutshell, Charlie is Luke Skywalker, her brother is R2-D2 and her uncle is both ObiWan Kenobi AND Han Solo. Oh, and Giancarlo Esposito is Darth Vader and some guy named General Monroe is Emperor Palpatine. Oh, and instead of storm troopers we have a bunch of guys with the letter "M" carved into their forearms who (much like Storm Troopers) can't shoot the broad side of a barn.

Got it? Good.

The show is purely and utterly "ok" and while it's full of logical inconsistencies (is it really that hard to build new stuff or did the "event" somehow make the scientific principals that define electric energy somehow inert? And I'm not sure where they started, but it sure didn't take long to walk to Chicago) it also has a fair share of fun and the action is pretty decent. When was the last time you saw blood spray and sword fighting on primetime television. I mean seriously, SWORD FIGHTING? Props.

It's not great and it ain't no Lost, but in the Lost-esque spectrum it's much more digestible than Flash Forward and far less sappy than Terra Nova. Here's hoping they can make it work. (p.s. I'll bet you a Gajillion dollars that the reports of Elizabeth Mitchell's death are greatly exaggerated).

Grade: B-
Class: Keep and Eye On

NBC Thursday Comedy Block (The Office, Parks, Up All Night)

NBC has made a big deal about the "farewell season" of the office. They brought back the original showrunner and have heavily advertised the swan song of NBC's most successfully scripted comedy (extra sad when you see the viewership ratings, the most recent season premiere matched the show's lowest rated episode...ever).

Less fanfare has been spent on the new seasons of Parks and Rec and Up All Night, despite the well-understood fact that Parks will likely be joining the Office in death at the end of the episode. As for Up All Night...well...it's a cute show that no one really seems to care about.

All three premiered this week, giving us sit-commy plot points that will set the pace for the next few weeks. Andy is back as the full-fledged manager of Dunder Mifflin and Jim and Pam are looking at a huge transition for their little family. There's also a New Jim and New Dwight, a gag that would have been funnier if they actually acted like Jim and Dwight instead of just showing a minor resemblance to the best comedy rivals of our generation.

On Parks, Leslie Knope has taken on a polluted river as her new project and is dealing with her long-distance relationship with boy-toy Adam Scott.

As for Up All Night, well, something about a show being canceled and Chris deciding to go back to work with Reagan's brother. Let's face it, the only reason any of us watch this show is because we love Will Arnett and want him to be successful.

Parks is still a great show you should be watching. Office is still a decent show you probably are watching some of the time and Up All Night is a show with Will Arnett and a baby. Let's be honest, at this point your opinion of NBC Thursday isn't going to change and it's a shame that the Peacock's strategy for trying to win back it's title of Must-See-TV-Thursday seems to have only consisted of moving Community to Fridays. For shame, Peacock. For shame.

The Office: B
Parks: B
Up All Night: B-
Class: Keep an Eye On

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know The Office was having it's farewell season. I watched last season but it was pretty flat and painful at times. But I'm still loyal.