We’re approaching Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. For the Networks, it’s a lot of game shows and reality programming returning to the airwaves, but for other streaming channels and cable outlets, it’s full speed ahead. Perhaps you’re ready to dive into a new show over the holiday weekend, but what’s worth your time? Let this weekly column be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
Run the World, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Starz (Premiered May 16)
About: As I noted last week when looking at the pilot, this feels like the kind of female-centric half hour that can help brand a network and create a following. The second episode did little to change my mind about that. This feels like it works well with a lot of the Starz original programming and has some nice performances. It wasn’t totally my cup of tea, but it feels like the kind of series that could develop into Sex in the City for a new generation of viewers.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Death and Nightingales, Sundays at 9 p.m. on Starz (Premiered May 16)
About: This mini-series, which stars Matthew Rhys and Jamie Dornan, among others, first aired in the United Kingdom in 2018. It makes its American debut here, with the second of three weeks airing Sunday. It’s a bit dense and dry, and despite the decent cast it was hard to get into the narrative here, which feels a little sad and a little creepy. I like Rhys, but this doesn’t work.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-
Flatbush Misdemeanors, Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on Showtime (Premiered May 23)
About: Showtime’s latest offering is one of those observational half hours meant to be a slice-of-life comedy. This one focusing on a couple guys, Dan (Dan Perlman) and Kevin (Kevin Iso), who are just trying to get by as they settling into semi-adult lives in Flatbush in Brooklyn. The pilot was OK, and had some interesting sequences. Hassan Johnson, who was part of the ensemble cast in HBO’s The Wire, has a nice supporting role that added to the intrigue in the middle and the end of the episode. Otherwise, this feels a bit like a lot of other shows to pop up over the years with little that made it feel unique or compelling in the pilot.
Pilot Grade: C-
Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K., Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered May 21)
About: For the most part, Marvel’s offerings on television have consolidated to Disney+. This rare exception is an animated series that dropped on Friday. It centers around an egomaniacal supervillain with a really big head and a really little body, who struggles to maintain control of his evil organization and his demanding family. The series is led by Patton Oswalt, who voices the titular M.O.D.O.K., but most of this feels like a family sort of sitcom wedged into the Marvel universe. The pilot has an appearance by Iron Man (Jon Hamm), but mostly this feels detached from what Marvel has come to mean to most viewers. That’s OK, but this one also feels a bit stiff. The entire 10-episode first season dropped on Friday, with each running about a half an hour. It doesn’t take long watching to realize why this one was dropped onto Hulu without much fanfare. It’s OK, but not on par with the recent Marvel series offerings.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-
Solos, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered May 21)
About: The latest anthology series from Amazon is a futuristic series that features a set of self-contained stories about the human experience. Each centers on a different character facing some existential crisis and turning to advanced technology to solve it. But, in the end, the answer is that no one can avoid pain or loss, no matter how advanced the technology. The first episode featured Anne Hathaway, with the second featuring Anthony Mackie. Both actors, working primarily alone, carries the episodes and deliver emotional moments, which is quite a feat. Subsequent episodes in the seven-episode series feature Morgan Freeman, Dan Stevens and Helen Mirren, among others. I enjoyed the first two episodes, which felt like something different, a more emotional and practical take on the Black Mirror formula. It’s a short commitment, with each running about a half an hour, and worth checking out the performances.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B
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.