We’ve arrived to a new year, 2021, and that means new content. The TV networks wasted little time, already producing new series for us all to sample. But are they worth your time? That’s where these weekly posts come in. Let me be your guide, as I sample new scripted series this winter and review the pilot and second episode. Let’s see if we find some diamonds, or just a whole lot of rough.
The Watch, Sundays at 8 p.m. on BBC America (Premiered January 3)
About: This latest drama is sort of a police procedural mixed with the fantasy genre. If that premise sounds intriguing, it is probably more appealing than watching the actual show, which premiered both its pilot and second episode in a two-hour block on Sunday night. Richard Dormer, who I liked in his role on Game of Thrones, leads the cast here. The series is based on the characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, and feature group of misfit cops who rise up from decades of helplessness to save their corrupt city from catastrophe. I saw another place where it was described as a “punk rock thriller.” Yes, that probably sounds odd, but it greatly fails to describe the experience of watching it. I was confused but at the same time not overly drawn into the story. I like Dormer, and there were some eye-catching visual flourishes here, but this one feels overly complex and not worth the payoff. In fact, it reminded me a bit of a lesser SyFy Channel kind of production. There is probably a target audience for this (likely those who read the books), but it wasn’t me. I made it through the two-hour block, but that was plenty.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
The Great North, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 3)
About: The latest entry to FOX’s Animation Domination lineup, this one won’t premier in earnest until February. But FOX issued a sneak peak of this and another new comedy on Sunday. This one focuses on a single dad in Alaska and his eccentric, mostly grown family. It features the voice talents of Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate and Will Forte, among others, which will likely get you interested. However, the pilot felt like a bit of a strange hot mess. Perhaps that’s the point (well, that and making jokes about Alaskan living). From the odd theme song all the way through to the end I wasn’t sure what I was watching, but I was sure it wasn’t for me. If you’re a die-hard animation fan, this will likely hold more appeal. But it feels like kind of a miss.
Pilot Grade: C-
Call Me Kat, Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 3)
About: This new series will pair with Last Man Standing to create a comedy block for FOX on Thursday nights. But the show got a preview airing on Sunday, as FOX attempted to use the final week of the NFL’s regular season to get some eyeballs on its new content. And this show could use the bump. Mayim Bialik as a single, 39-year-old woman who decides to take a lump sum her parents had for her wedding to invest in starting a Cat Cafe. Yes, you read that description correctly. What the description doesn’t reveal is that, consistently, Bialik breaks the fourth wall to have a conversation directly with the audience. She’s a talented performer who was part of a successful comedy ensemble in The Big Bang Theory. And the show has a supporting cast that features other familiar faces such as Swoosie Kurtz, Leslie Jordan and Cheyenne Jackson. That all seems like a plus. But the writing and story in the pilot was a lot, and all of it was humorless. It was weird, sure. It was different, certainly. But it wasn’t very good. The second episode debuts Thursday, and I’m curious to see what it will offer. For now, this feels like a pretty hard flop.
Pilot Grade: D
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.