Winter TV Roundup: Week 3

January is flying by in part because we’ve got plenty of new options to watch. Coming off a holiday weekend, you might have exhausted most or all of your backlog (which never happens to me). So, you’re looking for something new, but what’s right for you? Let this weekly post be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new series this Winter. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesdays:
Naomi, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered January 11)
About:
The CW has long been home to myriad DC series. But in recent years, we’ve seen the popularity wane. So, too, have the number of programs. But with Superman & Lois returning for a second season Tuesday, the network decided to wade into the DC waters again with Naomi, a new series centered on an adopted high school girl who begins to come into some changes. As you might suspect given the connection to a superhero universe, those changes will help her go from superhero super fan to a hero herself, not that we get that in the pilot, which is mostly about establishing Naomi (Kaci Walfall) and her world. The pilot was oddly paced and dry. We don’t really even start to get into the discovery until the end of the pilot. Perhaps it will build more in the second episode but even fans of comics will likely have a short leash for a series that doesn’t make forward movement.
Pilot Grade: C

Kings of Napa, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on OWN (Premiered January 11)
About:
This latest Prime Time soap for OWN is centered on a family named the Kings that run a powerful winery in the Napa Valley. In the pilot, the patriarch dies unexpectedly, leaving his children vying for control of the empire while long-held family secrets come out. All of this feels like a somewhat familiar construct, even if the specifics have changed a bit. That’s fine as these are staples of the genre but all this felt a bit too blah. There wasn’t much pop to the characters, story or the world. The pilot seemed to lean heavily into the cliches at the heart of the plot which won’t be good enough to keep and hold and audience in the future.
Pilot Grade: C-

Wednesdays:
Good Sam, Wednesday at 10 p.m. on CBS (Premiered January 5)
About:
The newest CBS series is a medical drama starting Sophia Bush and Jason Isaacs as father-daughter surgeons with radically different approaches. When her father is shot, Sam (Bush) steps up and becomes chief of the department. With his return, the power struggle begins. The pilot was a lot about setting up the characters and world, the second episode was about setting up this conflict that will play out over presumably at least the first season. Isaacs is a great actor, and Bush does a nice job, too. The problem here is the medical cases weren’t particularly interesting and the characters didn’t resonate strongly. It’s well produced and there’s plenty of tension, but the second episode felt less compelling than the first and in a crowded TV landscape I didn’t feel the hook that would make this required weekly viewing.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C

Peacemaker 2022 S01 [Added Epi 01-03] Complete English HMAX

0Thursdays:
The Peacemaker, Thursdays on HBO Max (Premiered January 13)
About:
This is a spin-off of James Gunn’s sequel, The Suicide Squad, which debuted in theaters and on HBO Max this summer. In the film, we are introduced to The Peacemaker (John Cena) as one of the anti-heroes that make up the team. The series picks up after the events of the film as Peacemaker is recovering and soon gets recruited for a new mission. He joins a new team and is set to apply his unique skills to a new test. The series features a cameo from Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, with the early episodes written and directed by Gunn. There is a wild and fun vibe here. I didn’t love The Suicide Squad, but I did appreciate some of the humor with Cena’s character. The first three episodes of the series dropped Thursday with subsequent episodes dropping in future weeks. There is a fun humor and style here, including an interesting opening credit sequence. I enjoyed the pilot quite a bit but the second episode was a bit slower for me. I’ll be curious how this goes as an original series, but it’s one of the more anticipated releases of the early part of the year and I thought it delivered something fun, particularly for those who are fans of the film.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: C

Pivoting, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on FOX (Premiered January 9)
About
: After getting a preview behind the NFL last Sunday, this new FOX sitcom debuted in its regular Thursday home. It centers on three friends (Eliza Coupe, Ginnifer Goodwin and Maggie Q) whose other friend passes away, forcing them to reflect on their lives. One decides to be a better mother, one decides to change careers and one just appears to be going through a mom-life crisis, seeking more passion in her life. I like the cast and I thought there was some potential here but the overall product didn’t quite work. It doesn’t have consistent laughs and the second episode in particular felt like a bit of wheel spinning. It’s laudable that FOX is trying to find some sitcoms for the air but this one doesn’t feel like it has staying power.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Sundays:
Somebody Somewhere, Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO (Premiered January 16)
About
: The latest half hour for HBO, which slots in right behind the new season of the Righteous Gemstones, features Bridget Everett as a woman who is struggling. She’s moved back to her small home town in Kansas, originally to care for her sister. But her sister is gone now, and she remains. Her family is there but she remains a fish-out-of-water. When a co-worker and former high school acquaintance (Jeff Hiller) invites her to a group of fellow fish-out-of-water she might just have found a place to belong. I enjoyed Everett in the lead role but the pilot here moves slowly. It’s about world-building that picks up a bit in the final act of the pilot. There’s some potential here, it just depends on how the series builds from the pilot. This is the anchor to a new Sunday night lineup, so it’s going to get a shot to succeed. I’m curious to see where the second episode goes.
Pilot Grade: C

Streaming Series:
Wolf Like Me, Now Streaming on Peacock (Premiered January 13)
About
: This new comedy on Peacock is an Australian-set series that runs six episodes in its first season. Gary (Josh Gad) is a widower struggling to be a good father. He meets Mary (Isla Fisher) through unexpected circumstances, but they connect. Then she disappears. Then they connect again and it turns out the reason for her cagey behavior is a secret she’s been hiding. This series is only six episodes for a first season, each running less than a half and hour. And yet, it moves at a glacial pace. In fact, you don’t even really get your first hint of the real premise until the closing moments of the second episode. What you do get provides little humor. I like Gad and Fisher as performers but I didn’t connect with the series and didn’t feel enough of a draw to go past the first two episodes.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Archive 81, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered January 14)
About
: The latest from Netflix is a horror series about a video restoration expert (Mamoudou Athie) asked to work on restoring old recordings in a mysterious location. When he discovers he has a connection to the tapes, and the tragic incident they capture, he gets sucked into the mystery. The viewer is supposed to get sucked in as well. But, for me, none of that happened. The series runs eight episodes, each about an hour. I wasn’t taken with the mystery or the characters. There were moments when the tension and mystery was supposed to ramp up but it didn’t work for me. It felt flat and I was disinterested in the arc of the story. I like the idea of a horror series, and when it’s been done well it’s incredibly engaging. This didn’t rise to that level.
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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