TV: Pilot watch: Part two

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC
Dads airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox
The Crazy Ones airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBS
The Michael J. Fox Show airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC


And so I continue screening the rather long list of pilots coming to our televisions this fall.

First up, The Blacklist features James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted criminals, who turns himself in within the first two minutes of the show. He then hands over a name of another wanted criminal but will only speak with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), the new criminal profiler. If you listened to the first episode of our pop culture podcast Post Pop, then you know I’m not the biggest fan of Spader. Thus, you wouldn’t expect me to say that the only good thing about this show is Spader. His character is well written, well performed and interesting. Boone’s Keen, however, is the opposite. Her dialogue is basic at best, the acting isn’t much better and the tortured past angle isn’t working for me. The set-up for the show is interesting but I’m not sure how it can work when Boone — a lead character — doesn’t work. Plus the whole Reddington knows everything angle is a bit much. But, like its time slot rival, Hostages, I think I’ll need to see another episode to see if there’s any true potential. Rating: 3/5

Fox’s new comedy, Dads, from Seth MacFarlane and the creators of Ted, already sparked controversy just from its preview. In the preview, stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi, who play Eli and Warner, respectively, make coworker Veronica (Brenda Song) dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl to impress their Asian clients. Now I can overlook this because MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, is the one in charge. Can you really think that his comedy isn’t going to try to offend people? However, the rest of the pilot wasn’t much better. Every joke was about a stereotype and was rude, not funny and, frankly, annoying. This was the only pilot I couldn’t watch the whole way through; it was that bad, and I even sat through The Goldbergs and Back in the Game. The dads, played by Martin Mull and Peter Riegert were the typical conservative characters who were the reason for most of the stereotypical jokes. According to a poll by Entertainment WeeklyDads is the show first in line to be cancelled, so here’s hoping. Rating: 0/5 (yes, it’s that bad)

While Dads may have crash and burned, CBS’ new comedy The Crazy Ones shined and succeeded. Robin Williams plays Simon Roberts, an ad exec nearing his prime, who is known for being creative and, well, crazy. His daughter Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar), on the other hand, tries to be more practical but learns she may need to be crazy herself every once in a while. While that description is certainly not going to sell you on the show, please trust me when I say that the entire pilot had me cracking up. And it’s not just me. The show’s debut garnered 15.5 million views, beating out The Michael J. Fox Show, Glee and Grey’s Anatomy. Williams’ character was undoubtedly tailored to the comedy Williams is known for — the voices, the banter — but he isn’t the only one who’s funny.  Amanda Setton as secretary Lauren was absolutely hilarious and charming. Even Hamish Linklater, who plays Andrew, brought big laughs despite the fact that he was on screen the least. James Wolk — whom I irrevocably love from Political Animals — proved he is not only extremely handsome but knows how to bring the funny. Watch the scene as he and Williams make up a sexy song about McDonald’s and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Guest star Kelly Clarkson, as a very sassy version of herself, even shined amongst vets Williams and Gellar. It’s important to note that Williams’ style of comedy doesn’t trump his moments in the show entirely. He and Gellar have a delightful chemistry as the father-daughter ad duo. Just go watch it so we can all rejoice in its hilarity and heart. Rating: 5/5

The-Michael-J-Fox-Show-NBC-kisLastly, we have The Michael J. Fox Show, the series critics raved about and I sneered at. The preview put me off with its rampage of jokes about Parkinson’s disease. I have no issue with the fact that they are jokes about Parkinson’s, but I take issue with how heavily the show relies on them. The pilot was a bit better. With other scenes mixed in, the Parkinson’s jokes were actually funny. Now, my issue is that this show is just simply bad. The series focuses on Mike Henry’s (Fox) return to NBC news — yes, a meta show once again — and how he and his family deals with his Parkinson’s. Obviously, NBC was really relying on Fox’s name to draw in the crowds and didn’t try very hard to find a good supporting cast or writing staff. Katie Finneran as Mike’s sister Leigh was the only person besides Fox who made me laugh. The storylines were very bland, and I just don’t see how this was supposed to be Fox’s big comeback. The show just really doesn’t work for me and neither does its poster; I don’t get the dancing/jumping/wooing. Rating: 2/5


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