Let the fall season begin

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Pilot season has arrived filled with all the joy and promise that you would expect from unopened presents.

Networks bring out big and small packages that are supposed to make us squeal in delight. The fact that over 50% will not see a second season, and a percentage of that will probably not see 5 episodes doesn’t matter. I love this time of year.

So it began on Monday with Sleepy Hollow. Fox’s new Fringe/X-Files fill in. Sleepy Hollow tells the story of Ichabod Crane awakening in present day only to discover that the secret mission he had been sent on by General George Washington hasn’t ended. You’ve got demons, witches, headless horsemen killing people. What’s not to love? In the pilot alone I think I counted 4 or 5 deaths. I’ve watched the 2 episodes that have aired and all in all it’s not bad. It’s not one of the best, but it’s good enough to keep me watching for now. I like the actor playing Crane, and the overall feel of the series is good. Though as soon as Supernatural is back I don’t know if this will last, we’ll see.

Also on Monday, The Blacklist. When I saw the upfront for this one I laughed. I didn’t think it would work. It’s one of the few times that the upfront didn’t do the show justice. This was a great first episode. James Spader is fantastic in the roll of the evil calculating genius Raymond Reddington. He’s just this mix of bad guy with something good about him. You know he’s playing you, but you also know there is something bigger he’s getting at. I’m waiting to see where the second episode picks up from. They left on a good cliffhanger at the end of the pilot and I hope we continue on that thread. Right now it’s my pick of the season.

Then there is Seth MacFarlane’s Dads. This show is really bad. I wanted to like it. I was willing to let the comments about racism and sexism slide until I saw the pilot. Sadly it’s worse that most people had speculated. It’s not just that it’s offensive to…well…almost everyone (including stoner gamers) it’s that the jokes aren’t funny. They might have been when the Dads in the story were young enough to star as the main characters, but these days they feel old. I tried watching the second episode but there was no redemption for this show.

The Michael J. Fox Show had a great first episode. The cast was really well put together and, for a sitcom, didn’t fall into too many sitcom traps. I think one of the most interesting bits is watching Betsy Brandt, famous for her roll on Breaking Bad, play a very strong comedic roll. As I said, the first episode was a complete hit for me. I thought it didn’t overplay the Parkinson’s disease jokes, had a lot of humour in a lot of different places and was well rounded. Then the second episode aired and started to erode some of that. That second episode fell into a few sitcom traps including having the “gay friend” who isn’t gay to the surprise of a main character. Then there is the life lesson. It eroded some of the goodwill from the first episode but not enough to have me stop watching.

Mom is an anti-sitcom. It’s situational just not a comedy, as much as the laugh track wants it to be. You would think that with that type of intro I didn’t like the show, but I thought it was great. This show needs desperately to lose the laugh-track, but I thought it was a strong performance by Anna Faris. Allison Janney does a great job too, and I look forward to seeing more of her character. The whole plot revolves around a former alcoholic daughter her relationship with her two kids, one who is turning into her, and her mother, who she has turned into. It’s a great show, I just wouldn’t call it a sitcom.

Of course the big one is still Agents of SHIELD. This show had a lot to live up to. After the monster hit that Avengers was, and the lead in to this series, it had to hit a home-run in that first episode. It fell short. Far short. I’m glad to see Clark Gregg back as his signature character, and the quick appearance by Cobie Smulders was a way of introducing the “Coulson is not what he appears to be” but unless he isn’t a Life Model Decoy I’m going to be even more disappointed. The show felt disconnected and rushed. They tie into the movies in parts, but on a whole this is not what I had expected. The crew that has been assembled isn’t well developed, and were not given anything more than catch phrases to get to know them. It’s a forgettable pilot episode for a show that just shouldn’t have been. Almost every geek I’ve spoken to felt the same way. The show still got massive ratings for their effort, and I’ll be interested to see how much hold for the second episode. I’m going to keep watching, but I’m not sure if it will hold me for the season.

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