Pilot Season

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I said from the beginning that I would review television and films along with books.  With the fall TV season upon us, I feel like I should explain how that will work.  I do not want to recap or review every episode of a season, no matter how good CHUCK or CASTLE are (really, watch them both, because they are fantastic shows).  It would be boring for you, annoying for me, and rather dull to go week after week when there is so much else out there.  And I do not plan on reviewing just the season premieres either, simply because some of you probably haven’t seen the other seasons.

I guess I’m looking to approach the world of television sort of like I approach a novel.  I know a lot of my readers are largely unfamiliar with the works I post about, and I am going to assume the same for television, too.  Bearing all of this in mind, I plan on reviewing pilots only.  And only those that are current.  I don’t think it would make sense otherwise.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the American TV system, pilots are generally shown in the fall, beginning a regular season.  Some shows are given only a 13 episode order, and if they perform well, are given an additional 9-11 episodes.  Dramas tend to get 22 episodes per season (series for UK readers) and 30 minute comedies get 24.  That’s not exact science, but a rough pattern.  Shows are not just picked up either.  If a network or studio like a concept, they will order the pilot.  If the pilot looks good, they will order a full season, though some get the mini-ones until ratings prove viability.  Some pilots are tweaked and re-shot, but a lot seem to hit the waves in original condition.  Because a pilot is just the beginning of something with a long time span, they can often have a slightly disjointed feeling from the rest of the show.  Most pilots though will tell you what potential a show has, and you can get a good vibe as to how well the show might turn out.

Now, adding up all of these factors will sort of inform how I will look at these new TV shows.  Some may have the bones to be good, but the pilots were not fantastic.  Others will hit the ground running and be great.  We shall just have to see.

To give you an idea of what to expect, I’ve listed the new shows I plan on watching/reviewing.  Most will be airing in the next week or two.  While I am really excited for some returning shows, there are a few new ones I am really looking forward to.

  • 2 Broke Girls – Kat Dennings (Thor) and Beth Behrs.  Dennings is a street smart waitress saddled with an ex-heiress as her roommate.
  • Charlies Angels – Remake of the 70s TV show.  Mostly tuning in out of curiosity rather than an intent to continue watching.
  • Free Agents – Hank Azaria and Anthony Head.  Based on a UK show, this one looks interesting as two coworkers navigate recent romantic losses and a mutual attraction.
  • A Gifted Man – Patrick Wilson (Phantom of the Opera) and Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice, 5 hour version) A surgeon seeing his dead wife and learning from her sounds hokey, but I’ll give it a shot since I like both lead actors.
  • Grimm – No one you’ve heard of.  This one is a high-concept series where the Grimm brothers fought real fairy tale creatures and their tales really were cautionary.  A young man discovers that he is a Grimm and must keep the fantastical at bay.
  • Last Man Standing – Tim Allen.  Don’t judge me, I grew up with Home Improvement and I love Hector Elizondo, so I’ll give it a shot.
  • New Girl – Zooey Deschanel.  Girl gets dumped and moves in with three strangers, who just happen to be guys.  I’ve seen the pilot already and really liked it.  Review tomorrow.
  • Once Upon a Time – Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison.  This is the show I’m most excited for, and which looks like my new addiction. Basically, the Evil Queen forces all of the fairy tale characters into the real world and they all forget their true identities.  Goodwin is Snow White.  Hard to explain, but this show looks amazing.
  • Prime Suspect – Maria Bello.  Another UK adaptation, with Bello in Helen Mirren’s place.  A woman navigates a life as a detective where most of her colleagues are male.  As someone who loves crime fiction and the upswing in female detectives, I’m definitely going to check this out.
  • Up All Night – Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph.  A couple must learn to juggle a new baby with their career and life.

I am also excited for Awake  with Jason Isaacs, but sadly that doesn’t premiere until January.

Of all of these pilots, honestly only 2 or 3 will probably become weekly viewing, but I do like to check out what’s out there.  And these are only a fraction of the new shows (roughly 30 pilots in all this fall).  But don’t worry, my blog will not get taken over by television.  Only once a year generally.  For the most part, I’m all about books.



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