Winter TV Roundup: Week 4

We’re nearing February, and we’re seeing a few big Network premiers starting to roll out. That’s in addition to an ever expanding portfolio of cable and streaming series. So what’s worth your time to watch? That’s the point of this weekly column, as I explore the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this winter. Let it be your guide as to what you might want to dip into or skip all together. As always, if you don’t see a new show listed below, check previous weeks!

Tuesday Nights:
Trickster, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered January 13)
This Canadian import focuses on a Native teen (Joel Oulette) battling difficult home issues with a sense of new powers he’s beginning to develop. The season is six episodes, so you’d think there would be some good forward movement. I didn’t feel that much in the pilot, and I didn’t get that a lot in the second episode, either. This feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace, and I wasn’t taken with the story it’s trying to tell. Since the CW is preparing to move back to its DC Comics shows on Tuesdays beginning in late February, it doesn’t feel like it’s worth investing in this, either.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

Wednesday Nights:
Call Your Mother, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered January 14)
 This new sitcom features Kyra Sedgwick as a widow and mother of two who drops her life in the Midwest to head to Los Angeles, fearing her children need her. The pilot was semi-cute, and this feels like the kind of story that would make for a decent comedy film. But it needs more to work as a series. The second episode was kind of a follow on to the first, following nearly the same formula (mom pushes, kids push her away, kids realize they need her, everyone hugs it out). That’s fine, but it didn’t feel that exciting. The supporting cast is fine here, and this seems to fit the tone of the family comedy blocks on ABC. (Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of the ABC comedy blocks, so that might color my feelings here.) The episodes were light and mildly entertaining, but didn’t totally work for me. And I don’t feel compelled to find this one each week.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C

Thursday Nights:

Walker' reboot review: Jared Padalecki, Texas Ranger, in fantasy Austin

Walker, Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW (Premiered January 21)
This latest drama for The CW is a re-boot of the classic series Walker, Texas Ranger. This time Jared Padalecki takes the lead as Cordell Walker. As we meet him, he’s career focused but happily married with two teenagers. Soon, his wife is murdered and Walker spirals. The pilot quickly shifts, and we see Walker still hasn’t adjusted to being present as a single father, returning from 10 months under cover he struggles to re-connect with his parents and brother, and struggles to be the father his children need. He also has to adjust to a new boss (Coby Bell) and new partner (Lindsay Morgan) at work. Can Walker find the balance between being an excellent Texas Ranger and a great father? That’s the set up for this weekly series, and I was skeptical. The world doesn’t need a re-boot of Walker, Texas Ranger, and yet this pilot worked for me. I watched it twice and thought it worked both times. It was the highest rated premier for The CW in years, and feels a touch different than the teen shows and DC Comics series that have long dominated the lineup. This feels a little more mature, and a little more like something you’d see on the Big Four networks. The pilot worked, and I’m curious if it can settle into a decent and entertaining series.
Pilot Grade: B-

Sunday Nights:
Miss Scarlet and The Duke, Sundays at 7 p.m. on PBS (Premiered January 17)
This murder-mystery series is set in the 1800s and centers on Eliza Scarlet (Kate Phillips), a young woman who has designs on becoming a successful private investigator. The times don’t support that lofty ambition for a woman, but she persists to make her way in the world after her father passes near the beginning of the pilot. The second episode followed the pretty standard beats you’d expect from this type of story. Eliza struggles to make a living and get clients, brushes up against the institutions that want to hold her back and ultimately proves her mettle by solving the crime and gaining respect. There appears to be the makings of a romance with the main detective for the police and a simple case-of-the-week formula. This works fine, and will likely appeal plenty to your standard PBS audience, particularly those looking for British mystery series on Sunday nights. The episodes were enjoyable but forgettable, so it’s hard to make the case that this is must-see viewing.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

The Nostalgia of Epix's Bridge and Tunnel is Filled with Wrong Turns |  TV/Streaming | Roger Ebert

Bridge and Tunnel, Sundays at 9 p.m. on Epix (Premiered January 24)
 Epix has tried its hand at original series a number of times and many of them haven’t really worked for me. It’s a premium channel/streaming service that is trying to establish value, and Bridge and Tunnel is its latest original content aiming to attract and audience. This comes from actor Ed Burns, who has made a career out of parts like the ones featured here, as the series is set in the early 1980s and focuses on a group of friends, recent college grads, grappling with romance and dreams while pursuing adult lives in Manhattan and connections to their home in Long Island. The episodes are a half hour, so not a huge commitment, but the pilot still felt dull and overly long. This likely has a narrow appeal to people who connect with the themes of geography and time frame, possibly like Burns himself. The performances were fine but nothing stood out and I was ready to bail on the story about halfway through the premier. Epix still feels like a network trying to establish a brand identity, and this won’t get it done.
Pilot Grade: D

Streaming Series:

Fate: The Winx Saga differences with Winx Club cartoon - Radio Times

Fate: The Winx Saga, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered January 22)
 This new teen drama is based on an animated series that first aired on Nickelodeon. It follows a teen who is adjusting to learning she is a fairy, that fairies exist, and a new school where fairies learn to hone their powers. It wants to be like X-Men or Harry Potter mixed with Gossip Girl, but none of it really lives up to those lofty goals. The series’ first season is six episodes, each around an hour. I watched the first two and wasn’t taken with the story or characters here. The built-in fanbase that enjoyed this on Nickelodeon might feel different, but this didn’t feel like a compelling and engaging vision for a series. The performances and cast were bland, as was the basic premise, which felt like something we’ve seen dozens of times by now, often done better. 
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-

The Sister: Fans unimpressed with ITV drama for this reason | HELLO!

The Sister, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered January 22)
This limited series comes from writer Neil Cross, based on his novel. Cross has developed a number of interesting projects, most notably the crime drama Luther. This one is center on Nathan (Russell Tovey), who is happily married and living his life when a face from his past, Bob (Bertie Carvel) shows up to rock his world. The series then takes place in dueling timelines as we come to realize Nathan’s life and marriage were built on a lie that threatens to unravel. The limited series is four episodes, each about an hour. I thought it was OK, and Tovey is a solid lead, but I wasn’t taken with the overall story and how slowly it seemed to be unfolding. Others might feel different, but it felt a bit too dry. By the end of the second episode you don’t even really understand what the underlying incident is, but you know it’s all going to end badly. Still, it’s a short commitment and watch.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

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. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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