Winter TV Roundup: Week 5

We’ve reached February, and with the Super Bowl set for Sunday a number of big premiers will be happening on Network stations. We’re also continuing to get premiers on cable and streaming sites as the unending river of content keeps flowing. But which shows are worth your time? Let this weekly post be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted (and select unscripted) series. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:

Resident Alien' review: Alan Tudyk stars as an E.T. who can't go home in  new Syfy series - CNN

Resident Alien, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on SyFy (Premiered January 27)
 The latest from SyFy is a comedy of sorts about an alien (Allen Tudyk) who crash lands in Colorado, kills a local doctor and assumes his identity to hide out. After several months in the snowy, isolated town, he’s approached by the local sheriff (Corey Reynolds) to assist with a local murder. The town’s regular doctor has died. So Harry has to come out of hiding and risk being exposed in town. When things go better than expected, he finds a potential way to blend in and make friends. This is an interesting concept that works as well as it does because of Tudyk, who is a gifted actor. I enjoyed the pilot and thought it was a lot more engaging and fun than expected. SyFy has mostly developed niche original programming the past few years, but this feels like it has a broader appeal. I’m curious to see where it goes.
Pilot Grade: B-

Thursday Nights:
Walker, Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW (Premiered January 21)
: The pilot for this new CW adaptation of Walker, Texas Ranger was among the most viewed ever for the network, and the most viewed in a long time. Jared Padalecki, who took a starring role on Gilmore Girls and Supernatural for the network in the past, takes the lead role here. He does well with it and the supporting cast, which includes TV vet Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files), Coby Bell and Lindsay Morgan is solid. This is also something of a family drama, with Walker (Padalecki) losing his wife in the early going of the pilot and struggling with grief as he tries to connect with his two teenage children. I thought the pilot presentation was strong, and the second episode followed up on that while advancing some key plots and showing how it can work in the case-of-the-week model. This feels like a different kind of series for The CW in some ways, but it works. This is one of the better new offerings so far this network season.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C+

Sunday Nights:

The Lady and the Dale' Is a Strange, Strange Tale

The Lady and the Dale, Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiered January 31)
: This new documentary series focuses on a con man, turned con woman who promoted a car that captured the world’s attention. It centers on Elizabeth Carmichael, a larger-than-life entrepreneur rose to prominence with her promotion of a car known as The Dale. The car had a unique look and promised record fuel efficiency, but the whole endeavor was more than people bargained for. The documentary focuses on Carmichael, originally named Jerry, tracing the journey from fledging con man and father to becoming transgender and starting a business that became a household name in the 1970s. The documentary series is four episodes, each about an hour, airing in two-hour blocks on consecutive Sundays. The first two episodes aired Sunday, and are now streaming on HBO Max, with the final two bowing opposite the Super Bowl this week. I thought the story was interesting and moved at a decent pace. HBO has produced a few of these documentary short series, sometimes with mixed results. The first two episodes here were solid, ending on enough of a cliffhanger with a hook in episode two that I want to see how it all shakes out.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

The Long Song, Sundays at 9 p.m. on PBS (Premiered January 31)
 It’s been a big January for PBS, which Sunday debuted its third original scripted series brought over from England as part of its Sunday night Masterpiece lineup. The Long Song is a mini-series adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel tracing the last days of slavery in Jamaica in the 19th Century. It centers on a slave, July (Tamara Lawrance) and her petty and cruel master Caroline (Hayley Atwell). The three-episode series originally aired in England in 2018 but is making its U.S. debut on PBS. The first episode dropped Sunday, with the subsequent two dropping the next two weeks. This is a tough story to watch, and obviously a tough topic to cover. There have been a number of stories that have explored the evils and cruelty of slavery, which is a historical lesson we need to be continuously reminded of. That being said, the story here wasn’t as engaging as some versions of this and the performances and characters weren’t as compelling. This is apt to be a tough sell for those seeking some Sunday night viewing.
Pilot Grade: C-

Streaming Series:

Barnhart: Netflix's We Are: The Brooklyn Saints Is an Encouraging Story  About Football and Manhood - PRIMETIMER

We Are the Brooklyn Saints, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered January 29)
 This new Netflix docuseries follows a youth football program aimed at providing an outlet and opportunity for kids ages 7 to 13 in Brooklyn. The program teaches football and team work, but it’s mostly about saving lives, as the organizers make clear in the early stages of the four-episode series, which chronicles a year in the life of the program and its participants. It tells the stories of these young kids and their families, and how this program helps keep them engaged and give them hope and a community. I watched the first two which gets into the season. Each episode runs about 45-50 minutes, and it is engaging, particularly for those that enjoy sports and documentaries. This feels like a solid addition to the Netflix lineup.
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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