It took some time but here’s part 2 of the report. If you can’t find a new show here, I must have reviewed in it part 1. You can view it here.
A few disclaimers before I start:
- To be fair to the first block of shows, the reviews for this batch are all based on their pilots. If you feel I’ve misjudged a TV show, just hit to the comments section and tell me why. I’m open to second opinions!
- Watch out for some slight spoilers
BYE FELICIA! (NOT WORTH YOUR TIME)
Genre: Family Situational Comedy
Length: 21 mins
Gist: After the success of their first asian-led sitcom, Fresh Off The Boat, ABC decided to capitalize on this by making another asian-led family sitcom with no other than Ken Jeong as the lead. The show is based on Ken Jeong’s experiences as a physician before he became a comedian.
But why? If you’re going in expecting Ken Jeong as the over-the-top wacky asian guy you know him for in The Hangover and Community, well sad to say, you’ll be heavily disappointed. Dr. Ken’s calm, not crazy and didn’t run around naked: just what you’d expect from a real doctor. The humor is more situation-based than larger-than-life personalities (it is a sitcom anyway). It also doesn’t help that the jokes were flat. It disappointed me so much because Jeong was joined by a proven and hilarious cast such as Suzy Nakamura (Go On) and Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife).
IT COULD WORK BUT…
Length: 22 mins
Gist: John Stamos plays a successful 50-year old restaurateur happily living his bachelor life. His life changes when one day he discovers that his carefree single life early on gave fruit to a son who also has a son, hence, Grandfathered!
But why? It’s generally a mixed bag. The main cast has good comedy pedigree with Stamos, Paget Brewster (Another Period, Community) and Josh Peck (from Drake & Josh). The jokes were okay, I had a few good laughs. Music choice was pleasantly surprising. The pilot employed Mark Ronson, The National and Jamie Lidell to accompany the episode’s key moments. However, in terms of story, nothing really stood out. It followed the usual flow you’d expect from a premise like this; from denial that he has a family to accepting that he has a family. But unlike Dr. Ken, I still see some potential with Grandfathered. The final part of the pilot had a reveal that tugged a few heartstrings. It made attempts to find a heart, which I admire. Here’s to hoping the new episodes could develop better.
Genre: Medical Procedural
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Based on the documentary of the same name, Code Black follows the lives of four new residents as they adjust to the rigors of working at Angels Memorial Hospital’s emergency room. Sounds like a regular premise for a medical procedural. The catch? Angels Memorial Hospital has the busiest emergency room in the US. The hospital experiences 300 code blacks a year compared to the US average of 5 times a year. What does Code Black mean? Code Black happens when the emergency room’s resources aren’t enough to treat the influx of patients coming in. In other words, Angels Memorial Hospital is an f*ed up place.
But why? Code Black wants to be taken seriously. It wants to be the serious dad of the medical procedural family; with House as its temperamental brother and Grey’s Anatomy its lovestruck and emotional child. It tries to stay true to the drama of the emergency room with its fast-paced cuts, and raw depiction of gore (how many times did I see shots of mopping dirtied and bloodied floors?). However, with so much focus on the intense action that it forgot to develop the story of the medical staff, that we were supposed to root for. It didn’t help that the sound design was awful. You’ll need earphones or subtitles to comprehend what the characters are saying. The pilot ended with me not remembering a single name of any character. I’d see how this develops because I admire it tries to bring back the old ER vibes. And you also gotta love its solid leads, Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzman.
COULD BE YOUR WEEK TO WEEK HABIT
Length: 21 mins
Gist: Rob Lowe who played as a popular TV attorney, named the Grinder, tries to fit in his family’s law firm using only legal procedural tropes he learned from his show.
But why? The premise strikes close to home. It reminds me of how, to some Filipinos, what they see in reel life already translates to real life. How most of the Filipino celebrities get voted to office for just looking good on-screen. People in the world of The Grinder fell head over heels in love for Rob Lowe’s character (who thinks he’s The Grinder in real life). Even the presiding judge in their first case had a soft spot for his character. But at least here in the show, reality trumps reel. The show makes fun of the cheesy cliches you see in legal drama shows. The Grinder’s Hollywood pizzazz didn’t work in the real court of law, save for the efforts of his real lawyer brother Stewart, played by Fred Savage. Speaking of which, Lowe and Savage are in their elements; Lowe playing the charming yet dense guy and Savage playing the high-strung and whiny younger brother.
Genre: Comedy Musical
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Rebecca Bunch (played by Rachel Bloom) hasn’t gotten over her 2-month summer camp relationship with Josh Chan (played by Fil-American actor Vincent Rodriguez III) from 10 years ago. After a serendipitous meeting in New York City, Rebecca drops her high-paying job at a law firm to follow Josh to his hometown of West Covina in the hopes of rekindling their love.
But why? Behind its bland title and story lies a well-crafted and smart script. For a comedy pilot, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was able to properly set-up the characters and their motivations. It’s not overt, but there’s a dark/sad side to each character’s personalities. Take the main character, Rebecca Bunch as an example. I like how the writers grounded Rebecca Bunch’s “craziness”. She’s a competent worker and a well-adjusted person but it all falls apart when Josh Chan comes into play. “Crazy” is just a playful descriptor to describe Rebecca who in truth, just sincerely wants feel loved. The two musical numbers in the pilot were great. “West Covina” was a straightforward funny song. “Sexy Getting Ready Song” on the other hand, had a deeper message regarding the stuff women go through just to look good. If there’s a show I’d recommend in this batch, it’s this show.
This second batch has been better than the first. But again, no Mr. Robot or UnREAL in quality here. Let’s just hope November and December will give us that show (I’m crossing my fingers for Netflix’s Jessica Jones!).