The Ides of March are upon us, and that seems to be reflected in some of our new content. Last week we got several new series on streaming, but were they any good? For those heading into Spring Break looking to see what is worth their time to try, let this weekly post be your guide. I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted, and select unscripted, series each week. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
Last Chance U: Basketball, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 10)
About: This was a big week for streaming content, particularly on Netflix, which debuted four new series. The first of those was Last Chance U: Basketball, a spin-off of its successful sports docuseries Last Chance U. The original, which debuted in 2016 and has produced five seasons so far, looked at junior college football programs, chronicling three so far. It was a look at the coaches, the athletes and what goes into helping them thrive and move on. For many, it’s a last chance to pursue their dreams. The same is true of the basketball option, which sets its first season at East Los Angeles Junior College. The season follows a team trying to win a title, with players trying to achieve their basketball dreams. It runs eight episodes, each between 40 minutes and an hour. The first three episodes I sampled were intriguing and engaging. If you enjoy sports, this is a great docu-series to try. It doesn’t feel like this first season of basketball matches some of the personalities in the football seasons, but I found it just as interesting and well-constructed.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+
Genera+ion, Now Streaming on HBO Max (Premiered March 11)
About: This is the latest original series to debut on HBO Max, which has made waves mostly for its HBO network content and original Warner Brothers films. This one follows a group of mostly LGBTQ Teens who are exploring their sexuality and what it means to come of age. If this sounds like a familiar set up, particularly for an HBO series, that’s because it is. While the characters and location are different, we’ve seen a similar structure and approach to content from series like Euphoria and We Are Who We Are. This one has a decent cast and touches on slightly different stories, and has a good lead performance from Justice Smith. But I wasn’t taken with the story here. The episodes run around a half hour, with the first three released on Thursday (I watched two). I wasn’t a fan of Euphoria or We Are Who We Are, either, but fans of those shows will likely find something of interest, here, too. HBO Max is working to expand its original offerings, but I would be interested to see them tackle a concept that didn’t feel so familiar to other series in their content library.
Pilot Grade: D
Second Episode: D
The One, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 12)
About: This new Netflix series is set in an alternate future where a DNA Researcher (Hannah Ware) has developed a test to help you find your perfect match. This was actually the plot of the first episode of the anthology series Soulmates, which debuted on AMC in the Fall. Much as in that plot, a portion of this revolves around the consequences of such a test for those who are single and looking to connect and those already in a relationship, fearful the test might reveal they made a mistake. But this one layers on some backstory to the development process, which is in itself a bit shady and includes a murder mystery. There’s a lot going on here, and honestly none of it was compelling. I watched the first two episodes, which ran between 40-50 minutes, and found the construction, storytelling and characters mostly boring. This has gained some attention from early Netflix viewers, but it feels like a miss to me.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C-
The Lost Pirate Kingdom, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 15)
About: This latest offering is a hybrid documentary and scripted drama. It looks at the history of piracy in and around Jamaica in 1715, using a combination of interviews with historians and re-enactments with actors. Some of it looks like a sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean, but some of it is cold, hard facts. The six-part series runs about 40 minutes per episode and is engaging for those that enjoy learning more about history. The performances and scripted portions are a bit stilted, but that’s to be expected from this structure. I thought the idea was interesting and I enjoyed the way the characters and world was laid out in the two episodes I sampled.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Zero Chill, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered March 15)
About: This scripted drama follows a family that includes two teens, Mac (Dakota Taylor) and Kayla (Grace Beedie), who recently relocated from Canada to England. Mac is a talented hockey player, and this move represents an opportunity to make it to the NHL some day. Kayla is a pairs figure skater, who left her partner and world behind and resents being moved across the pond. This one has teen drama with a mix of sports. The first season, 10-episodes in all, runs about half an hour per episode. I liked the characters and the story laid out in the first two episodes. Netflix has had these kind of family dramas with some ice skating as a back drop before, and this one delivers on the set up. If you like these kind of dramas, Zero Chill offers enough to build on going forward.
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.