We’ve made it to a new year. The holidays are past. The winter storms are coming and we’re all probably biding our time until Summer. The people in charge of television know this, that’s why Winter/Spring is one of the most crowded and fruitful times for new offerings. Right out of the box this week we get a couple of interesting and anticipated series, and we’re just getting started. Let these weekly columns be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Winter!
The Cleaning Lady, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 4)
About: The title isn’t original and the fact FOX used the term “Introducing Elodie Yung” in all it’s marketing despite Yung being an integral part of the Netflix series Daredevil feels like a bit of a slap in the face. But, then again, a series about an illegal living in Las Vegas awaiting a specialized medical treatment for her son. She works as a cleaner and soon finds herself cleaning for the Mob. But she’s also a medical doctor, and soon finds herself in deep. That’s a lot for a premise. We have the location, some political issues and other complexities. The pilot handles it deftly introducing the primary characters and the world in a crisp 40 minutes or so. I enjoyed Yung a lot when she was on Daredevil and I’m interested to see her get the lead in her own series. I don’t know if this will be great, but it feels a little different and the pilot was engaging enough to keep me wondering where it will go.
Pilot Grade: C+
The Book of Boba Fett, Wednesdays on Disney+ (Premiered December 29)
About: It would have been nice to get another season of The Mandalorian, but at least we get this spin-off following Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his right-hand woman Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) as they hold court over the empire previously run by the Hutts. We didn’t get much in the way of original Star Wars offerings in 2021, with Boba Fett dropping just two days before the end of the year. But the pilot delivered, answering some questions about Fett’s time between when we saw him last in Return of the Jedi and his re-emergence in the second season of The Mandalorian. There was even a bit of fan service in seeing him escape the Sarlacc pit. The pilot was a crisp 30 or so minutes, covering some of his back story while picking up as he and Fennec establish a new empire—or try to. This show feels like a bit of a different tone than The Mandalorian, but still a fun expansion of the world. I liked the pilot and I’m excited to have some live-action Star Wars back on the small screen.
Pilot Grade: B
Around the World in 80 Days, Sundays at 8 p.m. on PBS (Premiered January 2)
About: It’s been 150 years since Jules Verne first published his tale of a wealthy Englishman named Phileas Fogg taking on a seemingly impossible task of circumnavigating the globe in a mere 80 days. Since then, we’ve seen the story adapted a number of times in a number of ways. Now, it’s a new mini-series from England airing Sundays on PBS. This one sees David Tennant in the role of Fogg, going through the course of the story in an eight-episode series. The fun here will be the fact the show has been renewed for a second season, implying further adventures beyond the original text. The first episode, which aired Sunday, introduces the characters, world and premise as the adventure gets under way. Tennant is a fun actor that’s done some great series and seems a fit choice to lead this adventure. PBS has had some success with imported dramas on Masterpiece and this feels like a solid addition to the new year.
Pilot Grade: C+
Stay Close, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered December 31)
About: Netflix’s final new series of 2021 was another adaptation of a Harlan Coben novel. This one focuses on a mom (Cush Jumbo), a photographer (Richard Armitage) and a detective (James Nesbitt) haunted by an incident from the past, and how it might connect to more recent disappearances. This eight-part mini-series runs between 45 minutes and an hour per episode, and also co-stars Eddie Izzard. For those that are fans of Coben’s work, this was likely a fun New Year’s Eve binge. Like previous adaptations I thought it was well produced but lacked a hook to keep me going past the initial two episodes. If you’re a fan of these kind of crime dramas, this one offers you a bingeable option to survive a long winter’s night.
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.