Hope you had a great holiday weekend! As we turn the page post the Fourth of July we’re sailing into the middle of summer. For the second week in a row, new releases were at a trickle last week. But never fear, the flood of content will heat up again before becoming an avalanche again by the time we hit September. As always, I’ll be reviewing the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered July 2)
About: This isn’t a show per se, it’s a series of three films that will be released on consecutive Fridays. Since it’s sort of like a mini-series with movies, I decided to include it in the TV roundup. These films come from director Leigh Janiak, based on the series of books from R.L. Stine. They are about an interconnected set of events in a small town that traces back to the 1600s. Every so often, people in the town, or the surrounding area, have snapped and committed grisly acts. The first film kicks off with a murder spree in the mall in 1994. A pair of teenage girls, Deena (Kiana Madeira) and Sam (Olivia Scott Welch), are struggling with their relationship, and the fall out it has in their small community and with their families. Soon, they’re plunged in the middle of these deadly acts and have to find a way out. The film opens with a chilling sequence that feels reminiscent of another mid-1990s horror film, Scream. Here, too, a famous face, in this case Maya Hawke, makes a cameo in the opening that sets the stage for what’s to come. The film had a fun soundtrack and a decent story and performances. It wasn’t great, but it was entertaining. The film also has a resolution, but leaves it open as this will continue on July 9 with Part 2, set in 1978. Part 3 debuts on July 16. Be sure to check out the first installment this week before the second installment drops.
Verdict: Two Stars
Smother, Now Streaming on Peacock (Premiered July 2)
About: This latest series for Peacock is an import from overseas, set in Ireland it focuses on a long-married couple going through a divorce. The announcement comes at a big party to open the first episode, hitting the couple’s three adult daughters hard. But the following morning, the husband is dead, and the family is left to put together the pieces and see who might be responsible. Dervla Kerwin takes the lead as the wife and mother trying to protect her family and uncover the truth. The first two episodes were OK, rolling out the central mystery and introducing the world and characters. It seems to be pointing in a certain direction when the close of the second episode introduces a new possibility. For those that like these kinds of mysteries, particularly BBC shows, this will hit the mark. Overall, I felt it was a little dry and the characters weren’t likeable enough to draw me into the mystery. The first season is six episodes, each about 50 minutes, and all six are available to stream now on Peacock.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
We The People, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered July 4)
About: This new series on Netflix was ideally timed to coincide with the Fourth of July holiday. It’s an intriguing new approach to understanding history and what it means to be an American. It was created by Chris Nee and counts Barak and Michelle Obama among its producers. The series takes a topic pertaining to government and creates an original song and animation to illustrate the point. Each episode is between four and five minutes, with the whole 10-episode first season running about 45 minutes. The musicians involved include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bebe Rexha, H.E.R., Adam Lambert, and Janelle Monae, among others. The finale is even an original poem written and performed by Amanda Gorman. This is a great way to introduce facts about the United States and how it works in a fun, easy and entertaining way. I breezed through the entire collection in one sitting and appreciated the fun and artistry of it all. It’s well worth checking out.
Pilot Grade: A-
Second Episode: A-
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.